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5 Pillars to Optimize Maintenance Planning

Maintenance planning can be an inefficient process, so it's essential to evaluate how you are approaching both planning and scheduling. Adopting industry best practices will keep productivity and efficiency high. In addition, it will improve strategies for preventive maintenance and asset management. 

Effective planning and scheduling are the keys to transforming worker productivity and reducing downtime. By adhering to the five pillars outlined below when planning maintenance, you can transform this onerous task from an operational headache to a competitive advantage.

1. Planners Plan & Crews Execute

It’s critical to create a dedicated department for planners rather than grouping planners with craft maintenance crews. Creating a separate unit facilitates specialization in planning and scheduling techniques and helps to focus efforts on future work. The planning team should report to a different supervisor than the craft crew. This is a critical best practice and avoids reassigning a planner to a toolbox. 

2. Focus on Future Work and Feedback

Planners should concentrate on future maintenance work. They should provide maintenance for at least one week (3-4 is optimal) of a backlog that is planned, approved, and ready to execute. The one-week backlog allows crews to work primarily on planned work. The crew supervisors should handle the current day’s work and problems. Technicians or supervisors should resolve any issues that arise after any job begins.

It's vital that feedback is shared after every job as it helps increase productivity. Planners should use the feedback for future maintenance activity, and after six months of feedback, you should expect to see much more accurate job estimates and costs. 

3. Maintain Component Level Files

The devil is in the details and planners must maintain a simple and secure file system based on equipment or asset number. Don’t rely on the manufacturer or vendor maintaining individual component level files. This information allows planners to utilize equipment data and information learned on previous work to prepare and improve the efficiency of work plans, especially on repetitive tasks. This historical data needs to include work order history and equipment databases. Another essential detail is to look at the prior cost history to help decide if an item should be repaired or replaced. Supervisors and engineers should always use these files to gather key information.

 4. Tap into Planners’ Expertise

Planners should use personal experience and information on file to develop work plans that avoid anticipated work delays, quality issues or safety problems. Planners must consist of experienced senior-level technicians, trained in the appropriate disciplines and techniques, including industrial engineering, and statistical analysis. These skills, coupled with on-site training, CMMS systems expertise, and excellent communication skills, are the keys to a talented planner. When looking to recruit planners, your best craft person is often the perfect fit to transition to a planning role. You might encounter some resistance to moving a valuable team member; however, it’s always better to have good execution of a thorough plan, rather than perfect execution of a poor plan.

5.    Measure Performance with Work Sampling

Don’t neglect to measure how much time technicians spend on the job versus other activities such as obtaining parts, waiting for instructions, or doing administrative work. The goal for hands-on time is 60% of each hour a technician works.  Tracking this indicator provides visibility into how planning helps ensure everyone is focused on carrying out the maintenance and minimizing downtime. Work planned before assignment reduces unnecessary delays during tasks and scheduled work reduces delays between each activity. This data helps determine if time spent obtaining parts or tools is an undue delay or an aspect of the actual maintenance.

By adopting these pillars, maintenance planning will be more efficient and effective. It will also support the sharing of asset-related data and information across all plants, helping you optimize preventive maintenance and asset management strategies.

Derek Shickel's picture

Thank Derek for the Post!

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