Updated September 14, 2020

Facilities typically task operators with conducting process checks. These process checks, otherwise known as operator rounds, are carried out as a way of monitoring a facility’s operational performance. In short, operator rounds ensure that the assets within a facility are running safely and smoothly. While these procedures are great to have in place to ensure operations are on track, current challenges have arisen that prevent facilities from maximizing their return on investment from their current operator rounds.

At this time, many facilities are seeing the retirement of experienced operators, which leads to a loss of invaluable knowledge and experience. At the same time, operators are being asked to do more in their daily roles. For example, operators are now an important piece of the asset reliability puzzle, as part of the operator-driven reliability (ODR) method, in which operators are responsible for identifying critical reliability factors as well as executing maintenance tasks. Additionally, changes and updates to new technologies and processes will require further training for the operator.

Despite these challenges, facilities have the opportunity to implement changes that will help them to realize true value from their operator rounds. Three ways to do this are as follows:

1. Optimize the Operator Rounds

To optimize operator rounds, determine key reliability-centered maintenance (RCM) elements that operators should be able to identify. For example, operators should be able to recognize critical signs and symptoms such as equipment and process abnormalities. By ensuring operators are identifying these critical red flags, facilities will be able to capture failures before they occur and mitigate accordingly.

2. Standardize Operator Responses

Once RCM elements have been added to the operator rounds, define appropriate response and mitigation techniques to be taken by the operator. For example, identify various ranges of field conditions and define steps to be taken by the operator in order to correct and or mitigate the risk.

3. Build a Sustainable Process

After the standardized rounds and responses have been implemented, it’s important to incorporate applicable changes and updates as time goes on, in order to maintain a sustainable process. For example, include changes to operator rounds into management-of-change (MOC) and other change management processes (i.e. process changes, equipment / configuration changes, round management changes).

By incorporating these key changes to your operator rounds, you will begin to see an increase in asset availability, enhanced asset reliability, and an overall optimization of maintenance costs. For further information regarding the importance of Operator-Driven Reliability, check out our featured article, The Importance of Operator Driven Reliability (ODR) in Process Manufacturing Facilities by Brent Davis, RCM Reliability Specialist at PinnacleART.