ODR takes the driver’s seat

Few proactive maintenance strategies have gained as much ground in plants across industries than Operator Driven Reliability (ODR). Even in the best-running facilities, where up to 80% of machinery failures can still be random, ODR programs are ideally suited to be the front-line defense in optimizing performance.


Few proactive maintenance strategies have gained as much ground in plants across industries than Operator Driven Reliability (ODR). Even in the best-running facilities, where up to 80% of machinery failures can still be random, ODR programs are ideally suited to be the front-line defense in optimizing performance.

An ODR process engages a cross-discipline team approach with shared responsibility to help keep plants running better, longer, cost-effectively and competitively by reducing unscheduled downtime and increasing uptime. Owning and operating plant equipment constitutes one of the biggest cost items in a production facility. An ability to increase asset efficiency can deliver a significant profit stream.

Under ODR, front-line operators are involved with %%MDASSML%% and, in some cases, perform %%MDASSML%% basic maintenance activities beyond their classic operator duties. ODR enlists operators to observe and record overall machine health by checking for leaks; listening for noises; monitoring oil condition, temperature and vibration; and taking responsibility to monitor abnormal machine conditions. Operator-performed maintenance efforts can expand to cover cleaning, minor adjustments, lubrication and even simple predictive and corrective tasks traditionally handled by a maintenance department.

ODR serves as a deliberate process for gaining commitment by operators to keep equipment clean and properly lubricated; detect symptoms of deterioration; provide early warnings for catastrophic machinery failures or unsafe conditions; make minor repairs (with the proper training); and assist in making selected repairs.

In some cases, senior management may tend to view maintenance as a function that adds cost to the organization, while production adds value . A culture of “blame” may be present among production management, who would point fingers at poor quality maintenance as reasons for missing manufacturing targets. And, in many organizations, maintenance and operations departments may function virtually independently of each other.

Such situations do not bode well for plants striving toward world-class production targets and profitability. However, ODR can build a bridge by fostering and promoting internal dialogue and offering a cost-effective means to improve machine and process operation.

Basic tips to guide implementation of an effective ODR program include:

  • Create a comprehensive strategic maintenance plan with defined goals and objectives for ODR. Designated operator inspections should have technical and commercial merit

  • Open the lines of communication plant-wide to foster program understanding, commitment and cooperation

  • Include recognition and rewards programs both for participation and “individual saves” to help with managing the culture change

  • Organize and deploy leadership-driven, self-managed teams such as a reliability improvement team consisting of Operations, Maintenance and Reliability personnel

  • Clean equipment to like-new condition, make minor repairs and create a list of anticipated future repairs. All inspection areas should be well-lit and inspection points should be easily accessible

  • Document the best methods for operators to clean, lubricate, inspect and perform minor repairs for machinery and determine the appropriate level of operator support

  • Document new processes and procedures, including the incorporation of new technology into the work process. Job descriptions should also be updated

  • Make discussion of abnormalities and other “operator finds” part of regular operations team meetings and for review at executive team meetings. Drive work orders and corrective actions based on “operator finds”

  • Measure program results. Tie results to business production goals and improvement targets. Include KPIs such as OEE, percent of work orders created by operators, closure rate of these work orders and the cumulative value of “operator saves”

  • Include “operator finds” as part of the root cause failure analysis process. Refine the ODR program as an ongoing and continual process contributing to the comprehensive maintenance strategy.

    • We always emphasize that ODR should not (and often cannot) constitute a complete maintenance solution for any plant. Many routine inspections and simple maintenance tasks, for example, may have to be conducted to satisfy statutory or certifying authorities. Various standards, rules and regulations may necessitate a level of competence and/or qualification for compliance that some operators simply may not possess.

      But ODR is one approach whose time has come and offers yet another avenue to help smooth the road to reliability and achieve effective asset management.

      <table ID = 'id3002670-0-table' CELLSPACING = '0' CELLPADDING = '2' WIDTH = '100%' BORDER = '0'><tbody ID = 'id3038168-0-tbody'><tr ID = 'id3001653-0-tr'><td ID = 'id3001860-0-td' CLASS = 'table' STYLE = 'background-color: #EEEEEE'> Author Information </td></tr><tr ID = 'id3008428-3-tr'><td ID = 'id3003148-3-td' CLASS = 'table'> Dave Staples is operations director for SKF Reliability Systems. He can be reached at (610) 715-5324 or dave.t.staples@skf.com . </td></tr></tbody></table>

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