Effective maintenance planning and scheduling is probably the single most important area to get right in an effective maintenance organisation. It is consistently seen as a superfluous function that can be removed in times of budget constraint. It is also a task often given to the person who is no longer able to work on the tools, without any consideration of their capability.
Far too often, maintenance planning is one of the final areas to tackle. Having the right capability in the planning and scheduling functions will transform a poor maintenance program trapped in a reactive cycle into one where corrective or preventative work is being executed effectively.
Here are the 8 most common reasons your maintenance planning and scheduling isn’t working:
- Work is allowed to be done reactively: Except in the event of a critical plant breakdown, even corrective work is better done when it is scheduled. Responding immediately to all requests means you will never increase maintenance maturity.
- The maintenance planner doesn’t have the right skills: Ideally, the best person for the role would have a good understanding of the requirements of the maintenance work itself, as well as planning and scheduling techniques. They would have good interpersonal skills to help manage diverse stakeholders, with the ability to work with the operators and value their opinions. They should also have high levels of computer literacy, and the ability to work with complex data.
- Lack of training: Relying on “on the job” training by experience will be costly in terms of low labour utilisation of the technician pool.
- The planner is ‘desk-bound’: An effective planner will spend time out in the plant, building an understanding of the tasks and the skills of the team. They’ll understand spares requirements, the time tasks really take, and the effectiveness of the planned work to mitigate the impact of failure.
- Ineffective scheduling: So often, the PM “schedule” is just a job list to be executed if the opportunity arises. Without bringing together the plant, the resources, the spares and making an individual accountable for completion, success will only happen by chance rather than design.
- Lack of effective KPI measurement: The planner should be tracking the maintenance back log, labour utilisation and the PM completion rate as a minimum. Without these base measures, there is no way to see if they are adding value.
- Forgetting that Operations are the customer: Too often you see conflict between Operations and Maintenance, with Maintenance forgetting that they are there to provide a service of high up time to the Operations team.
- Unclear maintenance workflows: Unless there is a common understanding of how tasks are created, validated, planned, scheduled and executed, and what meetings are in place to run the workflow, then the chances of success are low!
The key purpose of the maintenance planner role is to ensure maximum utilisation of available maintenance resources to execute the agreed PPM schedules and corrective works at the lowest total cost with minimum plant downtime. By focusing on the areas outlined above, your operation will be well on it’s way to a successful maintenance scheduling and planning function and by association, a happy Operations team.
Written by Richard Jeffers, Coriolis Ltd