A key part of Operator Care is daily inspection. I believe that one of the most powerful resources we have in our quest for equipment reliability is an informed and engaged Operator. As powerful as Operator Inspection is, I do not often see it utilized on the production floor. Often times, this is due to a “we (operations) run it, you (maintenance) fix it” culture. Or if there is an operator inspection process in place, it is often times unrealistic. There are too many tasks and inspections to be done in the time allowed to do them. This is a sure way to demean the process into a “check the box” exercise.

One solution for this is to insure that the inspections and tasks are achievable in the times allowed. I personally like to limit the inspection route to 7 minutes or less. This amount of time is usually sufficient to inspect 5 to 7 key points. We should also make the most of this time by formally implementing an inspection route with a designated path (footprint the path) and visual controls on the inspection points (gauges clearly marked and identifying optimum condition) and a sign off of some sort insuring completion.  Another tip is to stagger the inspections from one shift to the other to complete additional inspection points within the allotted inspection time. By staggering the inspections amongst shifts, you can realistically inspect 21 inspection points within a 24 hour operations window.

One additional benefit of implementing daily Operator Inspection rounds is that once we are confident that the inspections are being done correctly and timely, we may consider optimizing our maintenance PM’s for that equipment by removing the inspections or tasks that are being done on the Operator routes.