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5 easy steps of Manufacturing Basic Care to improve operations

Thumps up from maintenance and operations

Manufacturing Basic Care sounds easy, and when done well, it will improve operations and make your work a lot easier as machines will operate as they are supposed to do, and your manufacturing line will keep running. Unfortunately, the reality of frequent line stoppages indicates that Basic Care in manufacturing might be more difficult than it sounds.

Step 1: Inspect

Does the equipment look the way it should? No tears or cracks? No worn edges? No dirt or leaks? Does the equipment feel the way it should? Nothing too loose or too tight? Listen while it operates. Do you hear any unusual noise or a rattle? In some settings, you might even smell to find out if you can detect any unusual odour.

The whole point of the inspection is to detect something unusual before it becomes a problem. Ideally, the equipment operators will notice and advise of any changes in equipment behaviour, as they are the people most familiar with what is normal.

Step 2: Clean

We all know that equipment that is clean, looks better, and runs smoother will improve operations. It is important to wipe off any dust and g grease. Clean up any spills and polish anything that can shine. We have it written here as a second step, but it might be that you must clean something before you can inspect it properly.

Step 3: Lubrication

Most equipment that moves and turns needs regular lubrication. The application itself is not difficult, generally via a greasing gun and greasing nipples for bearings, etc, or simply by topping up a reservoir for self-lubricating equipment.

The choice of lubricant and frequency of lubrication is critical and where possible reference should be made to OEM advice, i.e., the documentation that came with the machinery. It has been estimated that over 60% of mechanical plant failures are due to inadequacies in the lubrication programme.

Step 4: Schedule

It is important to set a standard for these three activities. We are all human and without an agreed schedule it is too easy to postpone these simple activities. Especially in a busy work environment. The manufacturing basic care schedule can specify an Inspect-Clean-Lube after a specific activity, or it can be a once-a-day/week schedule. Whatever you decide, make sure everyone agrees and it is documented, as this is the only way to improve operations.

Step 5: Condition Monitoring

As with any activity, someone needs to check that:

  • It has been done.
  • That it has been done correctly (to the standard), and
  • That the actual Inspect-Clean-Lube had the effect it was meant to have, or that the frequency or method needs to be adjusted.

Manufacturing Basdic Care builds on two foundational Lean practices: 5S and Standard Work.

As an avid mountain biker, I know that after each ride I need to clean my mountain bike and lube the chain. This is especially relevant when it has been raining and my bike is muddy. On those days, I rather drop the bike in the shed and head inside. But I have my self-imposed schedule and I clean it after each ride. It keeps it in great shape and the next time I grab it out of the shed, I am pleased that it is in good nick.

About the author: Liddy Bakker is a Director of Productivity People