Autonomous maintenance is a method in manufacturing that places importance on machine operators completing basic maintenance tasks. Autonomous maintenance programs involve providing them with up-to-date digital work procedures to keep equipment operating in like-new condition.
When operators perform minor maintenance tasks like lubrication, bolt tightening, cleaning, safety checks and inspections, they become the first line of defense against machine malfunctions that can hurt your productivity. That’s why it’s crucial to implement a successful autonomous maintenance program.
The first step is to train machine operators to understand the functions and components of machines so they can detect abnormalities and resolve them before they lead to quality issues.
If you want to lower maintenance costs and improve production through an autonomous maintenance program in your business, read on as we explain the process in the following sections:
How to implement an autonomous maintenance program
There are seven steps for successfully implementing an autonomous maintenance program:
Step 1: Boost machine operator knowledge.
It’s vital that machine operators know about the machines they’re working on. Creating an autonomous maintenance checklist is a great way to train them on how to detect equipment malfunctions. This can include work procedures on how to keep equipment operating in like new condition.
Operators must know the technical details of a machine’s components and potential equipment-related issues. This knowledge can help them identify any machine abnormalities and fix issues.
Step 2: Conduct initial cleaning and repairs.
It’s important to perform initial maintenance to bring equipment up to like-new condition. This step includes looking for leaks, cracks, loose bolts, contamination, and unusual sounds or smells.
Step 3: Remove causes of contamination.
Once the initial cleaning is completed and equipment has been restored to operate like new, it’s vital to implement practices that will keep it that way. Contamination needs to be prevented in order to ensure equipment doesn’t deteriorate. This begins with promoting good cleaning habits and includes using sealing methods and machine covers to protect equipment.
Keep in mind that cleaning a machine while it’s still running is very dangerous. Make sure to provide your team with step-by-step instructions on how to properly shut off machines and conduct maintenance.
Step 4: Create standards for cleaning, lubrication, and inspection.
Documenting a digital record of standards on cleaning, inspecting, and lubricating helps operators know what to focus on. Digital checklists on work procedures can be a beneficial way to drive consistency and compliance across steps.
Step 5: Conduct inspection and monitoring.
By this step, machine operators now have the tools and training to conduct regular inspections and monitor equipment. They are in charge of identifying any equipment-related issues and preventing them from becoming major problems.
Step 6: Implement visual maintenance.
Visual maintenance means monitoring what is going on with every piece of machinery. Consider adding photos, symbols, and color-coding to your checklist to help operators identify what needs to be fixed and how to do it.
Step 7: Aim for continuous improvement.
Striving for better ways to perform tasks is vital in autonomous maintenance. This can be achieved by reviewing current practices and procedures and making adjustments.
What are common problems with autonomous maintenance implementation?
Although implementing autonomous maintenance is very rewarding when executed correctly, it can be challenging due to the amount of work involved.
Without management support, for example, it may be difficult for teams to make headway on autonomous maintenance implementation. If leadership does not believe the project is a priority, then supervisors and assembly line workers won’t think it is either. Additionally, more resources will likely be provided to execute autonomous maintenance if leadership is on board.
Similarly, autonomous maintenance works best when a lean culture is adopted, which in a nutshell is the process of eliminating waste in the workplace. Waste is seen as anything that does not bring value to the customer.
Workers who use lean manufacturing techniques are likelier to do a better job in troubleshooting equipment-related issues. For instance, they will have the tools and resources to eliminate any inefficient methods when cleaning and fixing machinery.
It’s important to provide training on how to apply lean manufacturing techniques to eliminate waste, increase quality and maintain safety. Workers can then update existing digital work procedures to help others in completing the same tasks.
However, this may be hard to achieve if not enough funds or resources are allocated to implementing this strategy.
Keys to success for implementing an autonomous maintenance program
It’s crucial that companies follow certain procedures to implement autonomous maintenance.
For example, educating machine operators on basic knowledge of machine components and functions should be at the forefront. Operators need to know how to improve machine quality and detect any issues that may arise.
Machine operators should also understand the objectives of autonomous maintenance. This can make them feel empowered to help maintain a safer work environment and be more on board with following autonomous maintenance procedures.
Thirdly, cleaning and inspection is essential for high-quality maintenance. Machine operators must know how to thoroughly clean their equipment and keep it in like-new condition. The goal is to ensure that a machine’s performance is fully restored and maintained by identifying and getting rid of any signs of deterioration.
Machine operators should be able to diagnose problems and fix basic problems as part of their maintenance tasks. That’s why it’s crucial for operators to take part in trainings to cultivate their knowledge on machine troubleshooting and repair.
Augmentir is the first AI-powered connected worker software suite that helps industrial companies use autonomous maintenance and other smart factory tools to optimize the productivity and safety of their frontline workforce. Contact us today to arrange a demo.
Augmentir is the world’s only Smart Connected Worker Suite. Augmentir is being used by manufacturing and service companies to empower their frontline workers to perform at their best and deliver improvements in safety, quality, and productivity consistently, year-over-year.