Efficient Plant April 2020 - 23

Answers to questions
facing today's reliability
& maintenance
professionals

Q

What is the role of the
operator in reliability and
maintenance?

A

Although TPM (total productive
maintenance) has been around for
more than 25 years, very few companies
have implemented Autonomous Maintenance or Owner Operator as a position/
responsibility/title. Doing so can deliver
substantial benefits.
In the past year or two, it's being
described as operator-driven reliability
(ODR). I like to call it operator-maintenance partnership (OMP). Both have the
operator doing visual monitoring/inspections and minor maintenance, if trained.
The main deviation from autonomous
maintenance is that in OMP the operator
notifies the trade/technician for major
repairs. In textbook TPM, the operator
can do major repairs if qualified. You can
implement with whatever work-practice
guidelines best fit your organization.
If you are implementing OMP, are
the operators incentivized and trained to
better understand and value, not just the
equipment they work on, but the overall
manufacturing process and the impact it
has on effectiveness and efficiency? Is their
role in the process valued? Are operators
clear about their role in daily operations
and the "big picture?" Beyond the required
safety placards and training, are the operators able to detect early signs of something
going wrong with an asset? They, most
likely, already can hear unusual noises,
smell new odors, feel more vibration, and
see/sense that something has changed.
But do they know what to do next or care

APRIL 2020	

EP2004onthefloor.indd 23

department | on the floor

enough to speak up? If they do say something, are they listened to or ignored (so
the next time, they won't speak up)?
Based on local contractual agreements
and/or plant-floor culture, the operators
can and should play a vital role in supporting the overall operation. Let's compare
this to a football team that is allowed to
play with a certain number of players to
accomplish a goal. What good is it if you
have a great blocker, but the team gets
penalized because he plays by different
rules? What if you have this same issue
with all of your front line? Even if you
have the best offense, it can't perform well
without a cohesive front line. Similarly,
your operators are your first line of defense
against degrading asset performance.
Questions to ask are:
	 Do your operators understand the
overall process and specifically what
affects equipment and operations?
	 Are your operators viewed as the first
line of defense to maintain uptime/
capacity?
	 Are operators able to detect asset abnormalities such as machinery that is running too hot and/or vibrating excessively?
Can they distinguish between normal and
abnormal conditions?
	 Do your operators know when and
why to call for help?
	 Are operator discoveries turned into
work orders?
	 Have operators been properly trained
to perform PM rounds?
My data shows that operator involvement is directly related to improvements in
maintenance costs. Companies that have
operators perform "regular PM checks and

Develop an
OperatorMaintenance
Partnership
Dr. Klaus M. Blache
Univ. of Tennessee Reliability
and Maintainability Center
(RMC)

EFFICIENTPLANTMAG.COM |

23

3/27/20 10:19 AM


http://www.EFFICIENTPLANTMAG.COM

Efficient Plant April 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Efficient Plant April 2020

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