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Autonomous Maintenance: A Guide to a Successful Implementation

By CIOReview | Thursday, June 27, 2019

Mitigating the occurrence of equipment breakdowns is the primary challenge, and Autonomous Maintenance becomes the aid by being a part of the maintenance strategy.

FREMONT, CA: Autonomous Maintenance (AM) is now a part of any maintenance strategy. Maintenance is completed by the machine operator rather than the maintenance staff. AM includes tasks such as lubricating and tightening machine parts. Autonomous maintenance is one of the TPM pillars. Based upon the operator's abilities and experience development, AM endeavors to empower them to take over the everyday care and easy maintenance responsibilities of their equipment. Operators are refining their maintenance strategies throughout the value chain. The main aim of this effort is to manage short and long term costs associated with breakdowns and process interruptions better. This will maximize profit production by reducing unplanned downtime.

The goal of AM is to mitigate the occurrence of equipment breakdowns. The increased ability of operators to identify abnormalities and prevent equipment failure helps in achieving this goal. Developing knowledgeable operators, creating and maintain optimal equipment conditions are two main objectives that AM establishes on its way to extending the expected life of critical equipment. Any departure from standard operating parameters are easily detected at a glance, resulting in the proactive identification of issues before failure

While the purpose of implementing an AM program can have widespread appeal, operators may be instantly overwhelmed by the increased responsibilities. This is particularly true in mature assets where maintenance has shifted to a reactive model, and increased scrutiny is required to prevent failure. To that end, leading companies implement AM through a very structured, compartmentalized, and phased approach. This method defines the model asset for a small, manageable grouping within the production area – be that a well-site, offshore skid, or refinery sub-system – and establishes the end-to-end processes, training, tools, data, and standards for executing AM.

The bite-sized approach allows for greater control and refinement of the program that allows maintenance technicians and operators to work side-by-side to embed new ways of working and effectively transfer knowledge, without overwhelming day-to-day operations, or negatively impacting production or compromising safety.