Maintenance Planning and Scheduling - 5 Pitfalls to Avoid

Effective planning and scheduling is a cornerstone process of a world class maintenance department. To achieve success you must avoid common pitfalls. In this post we have included 5 of the original 13 pitfalls covered in an article we had published in Maintenance Technology Magazine last year.


1: Picking the wrong person as Planner 
The Planner position is one of the most critical in the entire maintenance organization. Placing the right person in this position with the right skills is paramount to the success of the group. The Planner is responsible for uplifting the utilization rate of the entire group. How can this be accomplished with the wrong person? Your very finest should be considered for this position. He or she should have a host of capabilities that management should understand before the choice is made.

#2: Planning work from a desk
Another trap awaiting the Planners is their sense of “knowing it all.” “I know this job. I used to work on this machine myself. I know just what it will take to make this repair. I can plan this job right here at my desk!” ALWAYS VISIT THE JOBSITE! There will always be things going on at the machine that the Planner may not remember or be aware of and, consequently, would not be able to plan for—a safety issue … an access situation … whatever. Things change and people sometimes forget. Therefore, it is important to remember that planning is NOT a desk job!

#3: Providing poor job instructions 
How many times have you seen work orders with instructions like “it broke” or “not running”? Planners must ensure that mechanics have enough information to do the job without having to stop for additional information. What’s “enough”? Planners should provide a degree of information so that a new mechanic has the same chance of success performing the work as a seasoned mechanic. The new-hire needs the detail; the more experienced person should at least use the information as a checklist. Remember this rule: If everything is prepared properly, maintenance personnel should not have to search for anything. This includes information.

#4: Not gaining cooperation and coordination with operations partners
A Planner can build the very best job plans and then put a great looking schedule together to get the work accomplished. But if this work is performed in a maintenance department vacuum, it will not be successful. The Planner must build the needed partnerships with operations or he/she will continue to struggle and possibly fail.

Maintenance Planners should remember that their managers do not have all day to read a 10-page written report.
Poor timing also is an issue. It can lead to equipment isolation and shutdown, resulting in excessive downtime. When a Planner is wearing his/her Scheduler’s hat, everything possible must be done to communicate with your partners in operations so as to develop a schedule to which everyone agrees. Failure to do this will result in mechanics showing up for a job where the machine is not ready to be taken down. In turn, your mechanics’ utilization rate is again being drastically reduced.

#5: Metrics
Not too many...
You can measure yourself to death! Metrics should be used to analyze your current state and assist in finding opportunities for improvement. Too many metrics only “muddy the waters.” Be careful to pick those that guide your decision-making process on how to properly run your business unit.

Easily understood...
Planners should remember that their managers do not have all day to read a 10-page written report. Information should be put in graphic format. (Important Note: there are good graphs and “ugly” graphs.) A manager should be able to look at the information and understand it in 20 seconds or less.

Staying on the road to success
Avoiding these pitfalls will greatly improve the effectiveness and efficiency of your planning and scheduling process. This translates into an environment of well-maintained machines that produce optimum levels of high-quality product in a safe manner. Ultimately, this is what allows an organization to be more competitive in the global marketplace.

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