Eliminate Waste Now: Process Map Your Maintenance Work Flow

Process Mapping is a LEAN manufacturing tool used to identify waste embedded in a process.  In general people think they know their process thoroughly from start to finish, but often times creating a process map highlights that they are littered with “extra” steps. These extra steps, or waste, are often costly because they require valuable resources: people, time, and equipment.

(Example of a maintenance work order process map. Click on the map to expand).

When creating a process map of maintenance work flow, start at the very beginning of the process and follow the flow of the process from one step to the next. Carefully record these steps paying very close attention to every task. When the process map is finished, it becomes clear that there are actually steps in the process that do not add any value. Once identified, begin to systematically eliminate as many of these extra steps/waste to increase the efficiency of the process.

Maintenance work flow is managed by the planning and scheduling and MRO storeroom management processes. In the absence of effective processes, or processes at all, the likelihood of extra steps/waste is much greater.

Process maps are typically associated with production; however, as you can see the maintenance work flow can be process-mapped as well.  Process mapping is just a tool to identify and eliminate process waste; and is not limited to specific processes. Review your maintenance work flow; starting at how maintenance work is investigated, through to how it is planned, kitted and staged, and then finally the execution and close-out of the work. You will likely find extra steps/waste.  Examples of such waste are: investigating the work request because of limited information or unclear description of problem; searching for tools or parts; stop working on one job to fix a “more urgent” job.

Once this waste in our process has been identified, we can work to eliminate it. Eliminating waste increases efficiency of the flow of maintenance work and ultimately supports the bottom line.

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