Simply put, maintenance planning is a proactive effort to ensure that assets are optimally cared for and maintained. Maintenance planning and scheduling are at the core of an effective maintenance management system, and an integral part of the operational excellence. But, surprisingly, many organizations either fail to implement effective maintenance planning and scheduling or neglect these activities altogether.
Maintenance planning includes regular planning, scheduling, and control activities that ensure that assets are properly maintained and that planned work is undertaken consistently. A lack of dedicated maintenance planning will compromise equipment reliability and uptime, and lead to increased costs and diminished work effectiveness. The resultant unplanned downtime will have a significant impact on an organization’s bottom line.
Consider the following: in an organization with no planning and scheduling, wrench time will be about 35%. This means that a technician will only spend about a third of their time attending to assets. With a rigorous maintenance planning schedule in place, wrench time can increase substantially, to around 65%. This means that most of the technician’s time is now dedicated to working on assets and less time is wasted. The pay-off here is that the organization can move from reactive to proactive maintenance – a shift that will enable the organization to not only drive operational excellence more effectively but also improve performance and productivity.
In his book Uptime, author John Dixon Campbell offers strategies to minimize equipment downtime and ensure that operations are performing at peak levels. Following is a three-phase action plan based on Campbell’s maintenance planning and control cycle steps:
Phase 1: Identify and plan
The first step in phase one is to identify the problem and report it to the maintenance department. This is usually done with a work request which is a formal document that clearly outlines the maintenance work that must be undertaken. Work requests include a description of the work that needs to be done, the level of urgency of the job, the location of the equipment, and the allocated budget. Once the work request has been submitted, the next step is planning the work. At this point, the maintenance planner needs to plan the sequence of activities required to complete the job. The planner needs to ensure that all the requisite resources and tools are available and that work permits have been obtained.
Phase 2: Schedule and allocate
In this phase, the work needs to be scheduled. The date of repair depends on how urgent the work is and whether the resources and equipment required to carry out the job are available. Most organizations set aside a specific time during the week or month to carry out maintenance work – conducting this type of work on weekends isn’t advisable as suppliers may be unavailable and costs may be higher. Once the date of the work has been decided, the next step is allocating maintenance personnel to the task. Ensure that the technician has the appropriate skills to carry out the task and determine what work will be given to outside contractors. Health and safety, are of course, always a priority, so be sure to conduct a hazard analysis to identify potential risks and create a plan to control access to high-risk areas.
Phase 3: Execute and analyze
Once the work has been completed, the maintenance supervisor must assess the work and determine whether it meets quality standards. Work requests and schedules need to be constantly monitored to ensure that the scheduled work was indeed carried out. The final step in the process is root cause analysis – understanding what caused the problem so that similar problems can be prevented in the future. Corrective actions must be taken based on the root cause analysis and these can include: equipment redesign, instituting training programs and assessing the efficacy of the preventive maintenance program.
By following this three-phase action plan, you will develop a more efficient and effective maintenance planning program that will ensure optimal utilization of assets and personnel. Another benefit of a consolidated plan is the sharing of asset-related data across multiple sites ‒ this practice will help further your operational excellence drive and propel your improvement journey forward.
Learn how to identify and eliminate problems quickly and effectively with How-to Guide: How to use a problem-solving A3 Report.
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