Implement Autonomous Maintenance in 6 Steps

Autonomous maintenance is one of the major contributions of the Japanese industry to industrial maintenance. By empowering machine operators and giving them the means to carry out part of the maintenance themselves, it allows significant productivity gains. Today, its implementation is even made easier by CMMS software.


This type of maintenance is one of the components of TPM (Total Productive Maintenance).


The term "autonomous maintenance" applies to the machine or equipment operators performing industrial maintenance tasks, which currently are performed by professional maintenance technicians.

Autonomous maintenance in the industrial maintenance history

This type of maintenance is a component of TPM, a concept developed by Japanese companies that wanted to extend the TQC (Total Quality Control) concept. They wanted to include principles of preventive and predictive maintenance.

The term "Total Productive Maintenance" covers the following concepts:

  • total: involve all teams in maintenance and consider all aspects of it;

  • productive: carry out maintenance operations while producing or penalizing production as little as possible;

  • maintenance: devote the necessary time to the maintenance of the machines (cleaning, repair, lubrication).

This type of maintenance is the result of the activities of production teams complying with the so-called "5S" rules, another concept of TPM. These teams, by applying these rules, found that they had to improve the maintenance and operation of their equipment to improve the quality of work.

What’s the aim

Its implementation meets several objectives:

  • increase the availability of machines;

  • improve operator ownership of the machine;

  • reduce maintenance costs;

  • limit the risk of accidents.


The implementation of autonomous maintenance requires a step-by-step approach to be carried out successfully and with the active participation of the production teams.

Initial training

Before any action is taken, it is necessary to explain to machine operators the objectives of self-maintenance so that they can take ownership of it and be able to come up with improvements.

It is thus necessary to respect certain rules that Japanese companies call "the 5S":

  • Storage and elimination of the useless (seiri);

  • Order and method (seiton);

  • Inspection and control (seiso);

  • Standardization (seiketsu);

  • Discipline and respect for others (shitsuke).

5s autonomous maintenance cmms

Compliance with these rules is essential for the successful implementation of autonomous maintenance and the optimization of subsequent maintenance operations. Therefore, it may be necessary to monitor and make sure that these rules are met.

Inspection and initial cleanliness

This first step must be carried out carefully by all those involved in the operation of the machines. The objective is to ensure that performance identification is up to date and to eliminate signs of deterioration.

It involves, for example, leak detection, a general inspection of all fixing points, repair of defective parts, cleaning of tasks, removal of electrical defects, etc.

Implementing corrective measures

After the initial cleaning, it is important to do everything possible to avoid further deterioration. Care should therefore be taken to remove all sources of dirt and waste, but also to prevent splashing. In addition, access difficulties will have to be reduced to allow easier cleaning and lubrication of the areas concerned.

At this stage, it is useful to develop visual control, for example by placing lights inside the machines or painting light-colored parts that are not very visible but require regular inspections.

Implementing inspection, cleaning and lubrication standards

The implementation of such standards is the concrete manifestation of autonomous maintenance. Already aware of the previous steps, operators will be able to develop their own standards based on existing documentation. They thus define the elements to be inspected, cleaned, lubricated or tightened, as well as the frequency and methods to be followed.

Training the teams

At the same time, it is essential to train operators in the autonomous maintenance of their machines. To do this, maintenance technicians and team leaders can provide training to improve the skills and knowledge of the operator teams and thus develop their autonomy.

At the end of this training, a good exercise consists in repeating the first step to put it into practice and become aware of the knowledge acquired. The production teams will then be able to set their own objectives as part of the company's policy and manage their own improvement methods.

Implementing autonomous inspections

Thanks to the previous steps, machine operators are now able to carry out their own inspections. This will allow them to perform tasks such as checking oil levels, detecting leaks, tightening fasteners or mechanical adjustments.

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Towards a fully autonomous industrial maintenance thanks to your CMMS?

Theoretically, at the end of these steps, production teams could manage the maintenance of their machines in total autonomy. However, you need to stay cautious. Indeed, despite the standardization and simplification put in place, totally autonomous maintenance is generally only possible in small structures with a limited number of employees.

That is why it is better, in the first instance, to see this type of maintenance as a way to restore and prevent the equipment accelerated deterioration. It is a step-by-step improvement process, rather than a desire to completely entrust maintenance tasks to production teams.

Larger structures will thus have an interest in maintaining maintenance tasks supervision by specialized technicians. Nevertheless, next-gen CMMS software can help them to approach maximum operator autonomy in this area.


Next-gen CMMS tools such as Mobility Work ease each step of the implementation of autonomous maintenance.

Inspection activities, for example, can be planned in the application according to defined intervals. This ensures the regularity, accuracy and traceability of each verification and simplifies the task of operators.

In addition, Mobility Work’s maintenance management platform provides access to an online community that allows users around the world to exchange data or maintenance procedures for machines and tools. This social network dedicated to industrial maintenance and CMMS facilitates the search for information and equipment and allows the sharing of experiences that benefit all users.

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