Autonomous maintenance is the empowerment of machine operators to make maintenance decisions and perform minor maintenance tasks without the help of a maintenance technician. This is a maintenance strategy that increases productivity and efficiency by training operators on how to recognize when maintenance is needed and how to handle small repairs, adjustments, or lubrication.
Why is Autonomous Maintenance Important?
Creating the opportunity for employees to perform autonomous maintenance is an essential step in meeting a preventive maintenance goal, as well as decreasing equipment downtime. When operators are performing corrective and routine maintenance, your maintenance team has time freed up to accomplish other tasks. Once all of your operators are trained to handle these items, you can make autonomous maintenance tasks a part of the regular pre-op inspection and operation requirements.
For one Redlist user, adding one question to their pre-op crane inspection form has created a culture of autonomous maintenance for their crane operators. Previously, the crane company was spending $500,000 per year in downtime and repairs due to one or two major unplanned boom repairs caused by a lack of grease on the boom and wear pads. Operators would have to wait for a maintenance technician to come to the site and grease the boom, which cost precious time. Now, most of the operators grease the boom and handle small issues themselves. Since implementing Redlist in 2016, the company hasn’t had a single unplanned boom repair due to improper lubrication. While that is one very specific customer example, autonomous maintenance can have a big impact on your business as well.
Benefits of Autonomous Maintenance
Autonomous maintenance may not prevent all equipment breakdowns, but it does have several benefits.
- Reduce Labor Cost
- Save Maintenance Technicians’ Time
- Improve Safety Culture
- Better Equipment Maintenance
- Quicker Detection of Equipment Abnormalities or Issues
How to Implement Autonomous Maintenance
The main obstacle to implementing autonomous maintenance is the investment in training. It takes time and money to design a training plan, follow-through, and sustain it for new employees as well. However, if you are ready to tackle the training, then the rest is easier.
1. Train Your Operators
While your operators know how to run their equipment, maintenance requires a different level of knowledge. Carve out some time for your maintenance technicians to educate your operators on the basics of their machine, how to recognize when maintenance is needed, and any routine or corrective maintenance they can handle.
2. Clean and Inspect Your Equipment
Set your operators up for autonomous maintenance success by giving them a clean slate. Take this opportunity to clean and inspect your equipment. This gives you a good baseline to measure the impact of your autonomous maintenance plan.
3. Establish Inspection and Lubrication Standards
You likely already have maintenance standards for your equipment. So, this step is more about communicating these standards to your operators. For businesses that rely heavily on assets, your operators will have a lot to remember. It is best to include these inspection and maintenance standards in your operators’ workflow, such as their daily checklist in the Redlist app.
4. Track and Review Progress
To ensure that maintenance technicians and operators aren’t doing duplicate work, track your maintenance tasks in either a Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) or an Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) software. Redlist offers this solution to help companies reach their maintenance plan goals. Tracking is essential to continuously improve your maintenance strategy.
Autonomous maintenance provides operators the opportunity to take on more responsibility, better maintain equipment, and decrease downtime. As you implement and sustain this plan, work with your operators. They will be your best measure of whether more training is needed or the process needs to be revised.