Autonomous Maintenance: Maximize Equipment Uptime with CMMS 

Paweł Bęś, Logistics and Maintenance Marketing Expert, QRmaint

Posted 7/11/2024

In the past, many maintenance departments underestimated or did not fully understand the value of total control to improve collaboration. The manufacturing industry achieved this control through increased cooperation between production plant teams. 

The awareness of this issue came about with the development of Total Productive Maintenance (TPM), where Autonomous Maintenance is a pillar of TPM. That’s precisely why today’s maintenance departments can benefit from autonomous maintenance functions in CMMS systems that go a step further in controlling the daily tasks of plant and machine operators. 

In this article, we reveal aspects of enhanced collaboration capabilities that maximize equipment uptime. Learn more about the role of an autonomous maintenance feature in a CMMS and how to gain greater control over production plant equipment.   

Role of Autonomous Maintenance in Manufacturing 

For many years, maintenance operations were focused solely on tasks for maintenance workers. They were required to do all the work that needed to be done on equipment to keep operations up and running. 

With the Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) approach designed to optimize equipment performance, attention has been divided among production teams solely responsible for operating the equipment. Dedicating specific tasks to production teams results in an automated maintenance process that covers these responsibilities:

1) Prevention of quality deterioration – proper operation of equipment and machinery 

  • Avoiding negligence and human error based on improper execution of procedures.
  • Maintaining primary equipment operating conditions such as cleaning, inspection, lubrication, attention to tightening, etc.
  • Proper adjustment during operations and changeovers (e.g., blade changes in cutting masses).
  • Visual registration of mass machine operation (e.g., documenting all detected irregularities during or before operation).
  • Planning of maintenance improvements (cooperation with the maintenance department and communication of own observations on the operation of the machine and possible failure avoidance).

2) Measuring deterioration 

  • Routine inspections (conducting visual inspections of the machine before, during, and after operation).
  • Carrying out simple checks regularly without the involvement of the maintenance team (checking the amount of grease or cooling fluids, etc.)

3) Reducing the causes of damage 

  • Simple replacement of parts and emergency measures.
  • Immediate reporting of problems.
  • Assisting the maintenance team in repairing unexpected failures.

autonomous maintenance

TPM revealed the factors behind the need for increased collaboration between production teams. Maintenance departments realized they needed to equip their machine operators with tools that could increase collaboration. For many, these tools are still simple paper documentation and checklists attached to a nearby workstation, but today’s industry developments have resulted in new features in the CMMS. 

This aspect also defines the immediate need for the maintenance department’s responsibilities. Since they have deployed tools, let’s say, such a CMMS system to their operational part, which is the production team, its role must now include the following elements:

1) Complex maintenance activities 

Whether or not AM now partially divides responsibilities among production employees, they are still responsible for basic maintenance activities such as: 

  • Performing routine maintenance (if needed based on implemented strategy)
  • Monitoring machinery and equipment condition with predictive maintenance
  • Fixing machinery failures based on corrective maintenance
  • Taking care of safety standards

2) Implementation and control of Autonomous Maintenance 

  • Management and training of the production teams: There is a great need for training teams in equipment failure prevention. Maintenance personnel should receive training and technical guidance, which is critical to preventing equipment failures and maintaining extended machine uptime. Operators must understand how the equipment works, which includes proper lubrication techniques and technical guidelines for cleaning.
  • Effective control and inspection procedures: Although this is still part of the training for production teams, it includes techniques for tightening screws, as well as detailed instructions on the inspection routine. This approach must ensure that operators are well prepared to properly maintain equipment. So, again, it should reduce the likelihood of failure and improve overall productivity.
autonomous maintenance software CMMS

Autonomous Maintenance in CMMS System 

As we have already explained in part, Autonomous Maintenance is one of the pillars of TPM, which is now part of a modern CMMS. It means that, for the moment, maintenance departments can use a digital system that can remove paper documentation from the workspace and even replace the need to use cell phones to call the maintenance team in an emergency.

CMMS systems with the Autonomous Maintenance feature now enable maintenance teams and production teams to collaborate more effectively. Here are the AM functional elements:

  • Checklists: These are the most comprehensive and important element of AM in CMMS. They facilitate systematic inspections and ensure that the production teams consistently carry out all maintenance tasks. 
  • Access to spare parts: Here, production teams can access the spare parts inventory to see if the parts they need for the work at hand are available. This can reduce downtime and delays in further maintenance work.
  • Task control: This is a specialized element, such as work orders, that allows for precise planning, assignment, and monitoring of operational tasks for production workers (e.g., machine cleaning, lubrication, etc.).
  • Real-time tracking: This element of CMMS autonomous maintenance provides real-time insight into maintenance progress and machine status (whatever production workers have done). It supports proactive decision-making.
  • User control: Production staff can define roles and authorizations to ensure secure access. This allows production teams to simply log in with their credentials and accounts to perform checks and simple maintenance before they start working on the machines.
  • Data collection: This function collects comprehensive data on the maintenance work carried out by the production team. It allows managers to see the equipment’s performance and evaluate all the actions carried out by the production teams. 

What are the Benefits of Autonomous Maintenance? 

  • Planned maintenance: AM ensures the trouble-free operation of machinery and equipment for manufacturing. 
  • Quality maintenance: The benefit aims for flawless production to achieve the highest quality and customer satisfaction. Imagine how easy it is when your operation runs smoothly. 
  • Flow control: Optimizing the use and flow of resources within the company, including financial processes.
  • Enhanced communication: AM used in CMMS systems enables companies to communicate better. Production employees can share data directly with maintenance teams. 
  • Safety and health: AM is seen as a tool to improve workplace safety and general health. Production teams can help prevent accidents by using AM. 
  • OEE measures: By maintaining higher quality, autonomous maintenance positively influences OEE measures of equipment’s overall effectiveness to some extent. 
  • Improved TPM process: AM is an integral part of TPM, so any company that drives AM will see improved productivity, quality, possibly cost reduction, employee engagement, and, last but not least, employee morale. This all drives an improved working environment and higher customer satisfaction.
  • Sustainability compliance: You can reduce paper usage in the work environment and comply closely with environmental law regulations. 

Summarize: Autonomous Maintenance in Practice  

With all the aspects of Autonomous Maintenance in mind, we can see that this is a key element of TPM that enhances team collaboration. Along with AM comes many benefits that no maintenance department should neglect. I believe these benefits are low-hanging fruit that maintenance teams can widely use. Using a modern CMMS, you can get more out of your business using the autonomous maintenance function. Strengthen and empower your business with a CMMS system.


Sources:

De Brujin, M. (2013) Redesign of the maintenance concept development framework for Heineken, with an application on the packers of production line 7 at Heineken Zoeterwoude. https://core.ac.uk.download/577462813.pdf


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Paweł Bęś

Paweł Bęś, Logistics and Maintenance Marketing Expert for QRmaint. He is a B2B marketer with 8 years of experience in the logistics industry in the Netherlands. His work included business analysis of distribution and supply chain operations of high-tech companies in EMEA and APAC. He was responsible for directing, coordinating, planning and supervising transportation tasks and internal operations. He is currently responsible for marketing activities at QRmaint, a company that provides CMMS systems for various industries.

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