Autonomous maintenance

Autonomous maintenance involves empowering plant operators in conducting equipment checks/adjustments and basic maintenance tasks that would normally be performed by tradesmen or engineers by referring to SOP's.

This allows operators to familiarise themselves better with the equipment they work with and troubleshoot problems more effectively when the engineering/maintenance department is not on site or engineering support is limited for whatever reason.

Objectives and advantages of Autonomous Maintenance

The purpose of implementing an autonomous maintenance system is to up skill the operators and give them ownership of the plant, but also relieve the maintenance and engineering department from low value adding tasks so that they can focus on higher value adding tasks such as plant reliability and preventive maintenance, work on specialised tasks, and continuous improvement projects.

In many production or processing plants operators and technicians have some form of technical education such as a trade in machinery, electrician, or tooling technician and in larger organisations these positions are entry level positions for graduate engineers. This is beneficial as qualified operators have a much better understanding of fixed plant machinery, engineering design, plant maintenance procedures and are much better at troubleshooting production problems.

Examples of Autonomous Maintenance Tasks

In production plants and engineering operations the following autonomous maintenance tasks can be easily carried out by production or processing operations, these are only a few items and each operation is different:

-Greasing of bearings (care must be taken not to over grease)
-Top up of oil reservoirs (lubricating/hydraulic) for fixed and mobile plant machinery
-Oiling of chains and sprockets (care must be taken of moving parts)
-Repair of basic work areas such as benches, chairs, and some tools
-Condition monitoring of tools and complex machinery such as temperatures, vibration and unusual operating parameters
-Changeover of basic plant items such as rollers on conveyor belts, undone or fallen sensors
-Cleaning of plant items involving isolating plant and disassembling components to perform cleaning

Reliability engineering and Autonomous maintenance

In larger operations such as in the mining industry reliability engineers and reliability technicians also carefully monitor fixed and mobile plant equipment to detect potential failures or degradation of plant items. These technicians and engineers also work closely making sure plant operators perform autonomous maintenance items in order to minimise potential plant issues that can lead to larger failures such as vibrations, bearing overheating, fouling or premature wear in plant items such as couplings, drive sprockets, gear boxes etc

     More on Maintenance programs and systems