Operator Based Care
Written by Steve Hudgik
Operator Based Care is an approach to preventative maintenance based on Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) principles. It places the responsibility for the every day maintenance of machines in the hands of the people who know the machines best, the operators.
Operator Based Care is most often associated with drive and machine lubrication. Lubrication is a critical task that needs to be done periodically and it is essential for long term reliability and high productivity.
The benefits of Operator Based Care when applied to lubrication include:
- Greater machine availability and productivity
- Reduced maintenance labor costs
- More effective use of operator time, who now will have more ownership of machine operation
- Reduced costs for machine component replacement
- Supports overall plant reliability objectives
For Operator Based Care to be successful several components must be in place.
Operator Based Care - Operator Training
Don't expect that machine operators will know how to maintain their machines. Provide complete training on the tasks operators are expected to complete. This should include training in how to use the tools that will be required, as well as training on hazards they may be exposed to. The training should be task specific and sufficient such that everything the operator is accountable for doing is covered in the training.
The training should be followed up with verification that the needed skills were learned. This should be done immediately after the training and six months after training, to ensure the training is being retained. Depending on the type of machine, retraining and verification may be required at regular intervals, such as every six months or annually.
Operator Based Care - Proper Equipment and Tools
Operators should be supplied with all of the needed tools for the maintenance tasks they've been assigned, as well as a storage location for those tools. They should be fully trained in the use, care and maintenance of these tools.
Machines and drives should be labeled to identify lubrication points and the type of lubricant to be used at each point. Instructions and diagrams can be included on the labels to show the tool used for lubrication, the type and amount of lubricant to be used, and the lubrication process.
Any preventative or routine maintenance operators are expected to perform should be marked on the machine, drive or equipment using labels. Labels may be color coded based on frequency of the task or type of task.
Tools should be color coded and labeled to identify them and their proper storage location.
Operator Based Care - Proper Documentation
Documentation of machine maintenance is important. However, do not saddle operators with extensive documentation requirements. Only collect the necessary information. When possible, provide automated systems for documenting the completion of maintenance tasks.
Operator Based Care - Management Support
Successful implementation of Operator Based Care is not solely the responsibility of the operators. Management support is critical. Management needs to ensure all of the needed resources are supplied; that training is provided and successfully completed; and that the tasks are being completed as required. Management needs to communicate the benefits of Operator Based Care, and show employees that is not about getting more work out of operators, but about having the most knowledgeable and best people taking care of the machines, drives and other other equipment that is essential for the success of the company.
Operator Based Care - Communication During Implementation
When implementing Operator Based Care you'll be asking operators to do tasking they are not familiar with. Use labels and signs to communicate information that will help them remember what needs to be done; when to do it; and how to properly perform the task. There are also increased safety risks when people are learning new tasks. Be sure that all safety hazards are marked with labels or signs, and all safety related procedures are clearly posted. Keep in mind that workers other than operators may be impacted by the changes.
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