In times of health crisis, autonomous maintenance is a particularly useful method. Plants often operate with a small workforce, and the proper functioning of the machines depends on the ability of the operators to maintain them themselves.
To develop industrial autonomous maintenance, it is important to have the right tools. Using latest-generation CMMS software with advanced functionalities gives maximum autonomy to the teams that run the plant in exceptional conditions.
The advantages of autonomous maintenance
Autonomous maintenance is a method developed by Japanese industry to perfect industrial maintenance.
Towards the autonomy of machine operators
The term “autonomous maintenance” refers to a mode of organization whose purpose is to enable machine or equipment operators to carry out industrial maintenance tasks themselves, rather than to involve specialized technicians.
Thus, by making them responsible and giving them the means to manage the maintenance of the machines they work on themselves, the company gains significantly in productivity.
What is autonomous maintenance?
Also known as “self-maintenance“, autonomous maintenance is part of the TPM (Total Productive Maintenance) concept developed by Japanese companies, who wanted to extend the TQC (Total Quality Control) principle, while including principles of preventive and predictive maintenance.
Of course, TPM refers above all to maintenance actions: devoting the necessary time to machine maintenance (repair, cleaning, lubrication, etc.). To make it productive, TPM aims to carry out maintenance operations while continuing production, or penalizing it as little as possible. Finally, the term “total” underlines the desire to involve all teams in equipment maintenance and to consider all aspects of it.
The principle of self-maintenance arose when production teams began to apply the “5S” rules, another TPM concept. These teams then realized that in order to improve the quality of their work, they had to improve the maintenance and operation of their equipment.
Why introduce autonomous maintenance?
Under normal circumstances, the implementation of autonomous maintenance meets the following objectives:
- to foster machine appropriation by operators;
- to increase equipment availability;
- to reduce maintenance costs;
- reduce the risk of accidents.
The advantages of autonomous maintenance in times of health crisis
In times of health and containment crises such as the one we are currently experiencing, autonomous industrial maintenance has the great advantage of allowing small production teams to carry out a large part of the machine maintenance tasks themselves, without the need for maintenance technicians.
In this way, the plants are able to continue to operate with a limited number of employees. Whether by choice (limitation of health risks) or by constraint (sick leave, childcare, right of withdrawal, etc.), many companies cannot rely on their usual workforce. Autonomous maintenance methods allow factories to continue producing, while ensuring the proper functioning of the machines through regular and quality maintenance.
How to set up autonomous industrial maintenance?
In order to set up autonomous maintenance principles within a factory, certain steps must be followed, even in an emergency. In a factory in good working order, this process is in principle quite fast.
The first step is the introduction of certain rules, often referred to as “5S”. In summary, these rules are designed to eliminate unnecessary items and promote efficient tidiness, to enforce order and method within the plant, to impose inspection and control procedures, to promote cleanliness of equipment, and to establish collective discipline and respect. Adherence to these broad rules is essential for effective self-sustaining maintenance.
Inspection and cleaning
The second step is therefore, logically, to carry out an inspection and cleaning of all the machines by all the operators involved in their operation. The punctual mobilization of a maximum of personnel will be beneficial to the success and speed of this step.
Read also: Autonomous maintenance in 6 steps
Subsequently, corrective measures will be implemented to prevent future deterioration of the equipment: removing sources of dirt and waste, preventing splashes, facilitating access and lighting of the areas to be cleaned, etc.
Standards for inspection, cleaning and lubrication must then be put in place. It is during this phase that the real autonomy of the production teams is established. Following on from the previous steps, they develop their own standards based on existing documentation and practices, and define the elements to be inspected and maintained, as well as the frequency and methods to be followed.
Training or coaching teams
The last step is the training, if possible, of production teams by maintenance teams, in order to improve their skills. In times of health crisis, this training may be carried out remotely and may take the form of coaching by a maintenance manager.
At the end of these different phases, the maintenance operators are able to carry out the inspection of the machines themselves and to carry out a large part of the routine maintenance tasks.
Developing autonomous and preventive maintenance through CMMS
The development of new technologies has fostered the appearance of CMMS tools which, thanks to their ergonomics and mobility, enable production operators to achieve much greater autonomy in the maintenance of the machines they work on.
Choosing mobile CMMS software for maximum autonomy
In practice, fully autonomous management of industrial maintenance by production teams is a theoretical objective more than a concrete goal. To get as close as possible to it, the adoption of a mobile CMMS software will be very useful. Indeed, a mobile CMMS tool has three characteristics that are particularly favourable to autonomous maintenance.
On the one hand, an application such as Mobility Work integrates a chat and discussion spaces according to a community functioning. Communication between the different people involved in equipment maintenance is therefore extremely simple, even when they are not physically in the same place.
On the other hand, it was designed on the model of everyday applications, which we now almost all use on a daily basis. The software is therefore very easy to learn and use, even by teams with no particular computer skills.
Finally, Mobility Work’s application is available on both PC and mobile phones. This means that it can be used from any internet-connected device, whether it is a smartphone, tablet or personal computer. It can therefore be used by machine operators during regular inspections, to help them carry out inspections according to established procedures and allow them to fill in the necessary information. But it can also be used by maintenance managers, even if they are teleworking, to monitor maintenance indicators and ensure that the machines are working properly.
Control preventive and remote maintenance thanks to IoT
Thanks to IoT (Internet of Things), next-gen CMMS makes it possible to monitor the status and operation of machines from anywhere. Sensors located on each piece of equipment and connected to the Mobility Work application make it possible to consult the main maintenance indicators remotely, without the need for an on-site inspection.
These sensors also allow preventive maintenance to be developed. Numerous machine malfunctions can thus be anticipated, in order to avoid any negative impact on production. In addition, possible interventions by maintenance technicians for complicated maintenance tasks can be anticipated and planned in compliance with the health regulations imposed by the current crisis.
In normal times, autonomous maintenance represents a step forward for plants, especially in terms of productivity. In times of health crisis, it becomes almost indispensable for many production sites that have to operate with a reduced workforce. Thanks to next-gen CMMS, production operators can carry out most maintenance tasks themselves, with remote assistance, if necessary, from maintenance managers. For their part, the latter benefit from new preventive maintenance capabilities.