I have worked with some companies that start the autonomous maintenance portion of TPM by having the operators make basic or easy adjustments when there is an issue with the equipment. “If this doesn’t work, than call maintenance,” is the mantra.

The issue comes in when the easy or simple item that the operators are supposed to do may not be the best first step. There was a facility that the first step was related to changing a seal that can be replaced without tools. When reviewing the actual MTBF rates of all the different types of repairs, it was found that there were other items that have a higher success rate. The issue with this fix is that tools were required and in some instances LOTO. What do you do with this information?

One, continue to do the same thing – The positive is that the operators are still involved. The downside is that it is not as effective as the best known solution.

B, stop what the operators are doing and go right to the walkie talkie with Maintenance. Potential positive is that there will be less downtime per incident. The downside is that operators become disengaged.

iii, Develop a way to do the repair without tools and safety concerns. This way Maintenance and Operators can work together and make a new process. These are positives but the potential downside is that time will be required, usually in the form of offline discussions and trials, that may take more time both to develop the process. This mean employees are offline working on the process not the product. Sites that are super P&L focused or have a low profit margin product may not be sold on this.

Fourth, the operators, maintenance, and supervision work together and eliminate the downtime all together. Any extra time needed to eliminate the downtime will be paid for by future gains in downtime reduction. This keeps everyone engaged and can be the beginning of a downtime elimination team that will work on downtime elimination instead of Band-Aids.