The power of autonomous maintenance

Autonomous Maintenance (AM) is an effective method to improve the manufacturing process. It contributes to employee ownership and eases the manufacturing process. Implementing autonomous maintenance is a gradual process that, first of all, requires time investment – but will absolutely be worthwhile.



What is autonomous maintenance?

Autonomous maintenance is a different way of maintenance. Where normally technical services are responsible for all repairs and maintenance at the line, autonomous maintenance decentralizes the responsibility. From then on, operators also troubleshoot and prevent malfunctions. 

Autonomous maintenance in seven steps 

Autonomous maintenance is not a method that can be implemented overnight. It may take several years before AM is fully integrated into the manufacturing process. This involves the following steps:


Step one: Cleaning and inspection

First of all, the base condition of the machine is restored.

Step two: Eliminating contamination sources, and places that are hard to reach and difficult to inspect

During this step, the largest number of problem sources is excluded, thereby reducing future cleaning time.

Step 3: Lubrication and establishing a standard for autonomous maintenance 

The machine is lubricated regularly and an inventory is done on what regular maintenance needs to be carried out.

Step 4: General inspection

Technical services will supervise general inspection for a few months.

Step 5: Autonomous inspection

The inspection is transferred to the operators.

Step 6: Standardization

Together with the operators and technical services, the definitive standard for maintenance is drawn up.

Step 7: Autonomous management

The operators take over full autonomous management.


What are the consequences of autonomous maintenance?

Autonomous maintenance is clearly a different working method. Historically, technical services are responsible for planned and unplanned maintenance. The difference for the employees is quite profound. 

For operators:

- There’s more involvement on the line, which leads to more motivation to keep the line running optimally.
- The operator doesn’t have to wait for technical services when a problem occurs.

 For technical services:

- There’s more time to focus on overall malfunctions, as opposed to putting out fires.
- There’s more time to improve the general maintenance standard.

For the manufacturing process:


Het productieproces verloopt vervolgens aanzienlijk soepeler.

- The manufacturing process will run a lot smoother.
- There’s less delay on the line because operators can solve issues directly.

- Greater operator involvement means that recurrent failures and causes are spotted faster.
- Because technical services has more time for overall problems and the right standard for general maintenance, many future malfunctions are prevented.

Although it always takes time to develop and get used to a new working method, autonomous maintenance generally leads to an optimized manufacturing process and more satisfaction on the work floor.


Implementing autonomous maintenance with the Cierpa Suite

Each of the modules of the Cierpa Suite contributes uniquely to the realization of autonomous maintenance.



Cierpa OEE records malfunctions and measures the number of operating hours per machine, enabling calculation of what preventive maintenance needs to be scheduled. 

Cierpa Kaizen can escalate incidents, so corrective and preventive measures can be taken. Kaizen can also plan and manage periodic maintenance within the process.

Cierpa Competence enables description and implementation of new standards.

Cierpa Assessment can manage inspections. 


Cierpa Software enables you to guide a part or complete autonomous maintenance.


Autonomous maintenance in practice: Hessing BV

With more than 2000 employees in four countries, Hessing BV focuses on innovative and ultra-fresh vegetable handling. Continuous Improvement Coordinator Mark Koeman talks about the implementation of autonomous maintenance.


 What was the reason to start with autonomous maintenance?

 “The percentage of malfunctions on the line turned out to be relatively high. So we started looking for the cause of those malfunctions. As it turned out an important factor was lack of planned maintenance on the packaging lines. That led to two solutions: preventive maintenance by our technical service employees and autonomous maintenance on the line. We started doing both.”


How do you implement autonomous maintenance?

“We started with an improvement team that included both technical service and operations employees. Together we started to investigate all of the lines, one by one. Which inspections are necessary? That turned out to be 40-50 per line.

The next question was: who needs to do that, technical service or operations? More line maintenance can enlarge the knowledge and involvement of the operators considerably. At the same time, not everything can be transferred. So, we divided the tasks. We agreed that when operators find deviations on the line during inspection, they instantly relay the information to technical service. The “district” mechanics will then find the cause and solve the problem.

Once it was clear which tasks the operators would perform, we made visual instructions in the form of a CIL-list: Clean, Inspect, Lubricate. The knowledge and ability of our head mechanic and the involvement of the operators were vital to this step.

Then we made a planning. We recorded the milestones for the improvement teams into Cierpa Kaizen, and we continue to work that way.”



How do milestones contribute to the startup process of autonomous maintenance?

“We can determine the available hours per week or per month. We can use that information to set realistic goals. The milestones show us: what do we want and what can we finish at a specific moment? This way, we work towards autonomous maintenance on all our lines.”

Would you like to know how Cierpa Software could help you realize autonomous maintenance? Then contact us; we’d like to talk to you! 


Cierpa Software enables you to improve your organization continuously. LEAN manufacturing changes your work floor processes towards better and faster results and ultimately reduces any waste. With our LEAN software for companies, it’s possible to manage this ongoing process quickly and easily. Our Cierpa improvement consultants can also offer help.

Techniques and methods like 5S audit, Kaizen, OEE and the underlying LEAN thought principles are at the very core of our software suite. With Cierpa OEE, Cierpa Kaizen, Cierpa Quality, Cierpa Competence and Cierpa Assessment, Cierpa Software really speeds up all your improvement processes!

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The power of autonomous maintenance