Operator asset care is critical to the safe and efficient operation of industrial equipment. Operator asset care, or OAC, is a process by which operators can optimize their equipment performance, extend component life and improve safety. By taking a proactive approach to operator care, you can ensure that your equipment operates at its best and reduces the risk of downtime or failure. In this article, we will discuss what operator asset care is and how you can implement it in your organization.
What is Operator Asset Care?
Operator asset care is the inclusion of operators in the reliability and maintenance of their assets. It is helpful support for the early identification of equipment problems. The right training and a reliability-driven procedure for failure analysis and early identification are two essential elements for developing operators with this competence. Because operators have hands-on, daily experience with the equipment, they can be a crucial part of the maintenance process.
The concepts of autonomous maintenance were the foundation for the development of operator asset care, which came from Japan in the late 1980s. Many organizations use this strategy to enhance the efficiency of operational assets and processes. It covers not only maintenance, but also all facets of operation, with employee development and motivation at its core.
Operator Asset Care, Operator-Driven Reliability, and Autonomous Maintenance
These three terms are very similar, and you may hear people use them somewhat interchangeably. They are all initiatives that encourage operators to keep their assets reliable and maintained. More engineering expertise, maintenance know-how, and work quality are required for autonomous maintenance than for operator-driven reliability and operator asset care. All of these initiatives also help to increase operator skills, reliability, and availability.
The Importance of Operator Asset Care
OAC is an important element of Total Productive Maintenance (TPM). The basic goal of operator asset care is to give the operators more responsibility and give them the freedom to perform simple preventive maintenance tasks. This may include inspection, lubrication, cleaning, or even diagnosis in an effort to avoid breakdowns and improve repair response time.
Benefits of OAC
If preventing equipment breakdown isn’t reason enough to implement OAC, there are many additional advantages, such as:
- Enhancing machine conditions
- Minimizing the number of failures and interruptions
- A positive cultural shift to reliability
- Transform reactive maintenance into more preventive maintenance
- Enables deeper root cause analysis
- Improves preventive maintenance schedules
- Develops a cost-efficient maintenance plan
- Allows maintenance professionals to perform more complex preventive maintenance and engineering improvements.
Common Operator Asset Care Mistakes
Due to the increased responsibilities associated with OAC, a dedicated training program is required, as well as some modifications to the machines to simplify their operation. By doing so, operators will improve their skills and become better at maintaining and even improving equipment. So, the most impactful mistake would be failing to sufficiently train your operators. However, there are some additional mistakes that you may come across:
- The initiative is set up by a single department
- Inadequate communication between operations, maintenance, and shift teams
- A lack of management support
- A lack of planning or defined expectations and scope
- Failure to introduce a pilot program first
- Insufficient training or failing to retrain as a continuous improvement method
- Failure to provide support via CMMS (Computerized Maintenance Management System) software
OAC is Essential for Continuous Improvement
A continuous improvement program should include operator asset care as well. OAC is not difficult or expensive to implement, and it often does not need substantial capital investments. However, it is also not a quick fix. Although it may take years to fully understand the commitment of everyone in the company and the significant rewards that follow, many benefits can be seen right away after implementation. It stimulates a shift in mindset and introduces a new method of maintenance that is advantageous to everyone in the organization.