Planning and Scheduling

Maintenance Scheduling: A good early step in the journey to World Class maintenance


Scheduling maintenance work will yield fast improvements in maintenance productivity. This is achieved by eliminating/reducing several issues that damage productivity in any reactive maintenance organization. Some things required for improvement include:

· Ownership of the schedule by either maintenance or operations
· Equipment locked out and ready for maintenance
· All needed materials available
· Weekly scheduling/Multi week scheduling
· Daily scheduling

Some improvement will be seen regardless of the quality or accuracy of the plan estimates.

How to get started:

Maintenance Planning & Scheduling Training: 3-steps to maximize your learning

In return for the ten minutes you will invest in reading this blog post, I promise that you will be able to make all future maintenance planning and scheduling training more meaningful and effective.  Sound like a great deal? 

So, why is this important,  you ask? After all, training is just training, right? Not for me, it isn’t. Training is a two way exchange in which you get what you give.  With these tips, what yougive to training will significantly improve what you get from training.  I am not talking about meager gains here; I am talking about potential life-altering transformation.  Let’s get started.

The three areas you can maximize your learning Return On Investment (ROI) are:

Reliability Matters: Planned Maintenance Vs Reactive Maintenance

Reliability matters, whether it is in your personal life or on the factory floor.  It is generally assumed to cost 2 to 5 times more for breakdown maintenance as the same job in a planned, scheduled environment. This is a truth I was recently reminded of.

During a 600-mile drive to a family reunion my truck's fuel pump failed.  The cost of repair and towing was $781, even with a few towing miles paid by AAA. The lost-time on the trip was 5 hours.  All in all, it was a pretty "fortunate failure" and I was able to coast to an off-ramp, and roll right into a parking lot when the truck died.  In addition to that good fortune a nearby garage could get me in within two hours of the breakdown and the parts were available the same day. Another garage I called had no time available for almost a week.

To calculate the cost of this breakdown failure in comparison to a scheduled failure, I did a search and found that the fuel pump and filter if purchased at a local parts store would total $275.  The labor for the job was about 3 hours and they kept my fuel in the tank.

World-Class Maintenance: Key Activities

In 2010 I flew 232,000 miles and circumvented the world several times to support clients achieve their reliability goals.  So far in 2011 I’ve worked in North Dakota, Florida, Oregon, Texas, Louisiana, Korea, Malaysia, and Scotland.   My point is not to promote my busy travel schedule but to shed light on some commonalities of mainte

nance, no matter the country or industry. 

I admit there are nuances that make certain operating environments different and sometimes unique, however I have listed some key maintenance activities that are required for any operation to become world-class. This by no means is an exhuastive list, just some key activities.

A Case for Reliability

Even today too many industry leaders do not see the clear case for investing in maintenance and reliability.  Within the reliability community, the message IS clear; cost-cutting and reducing resources as a means to improve performance can be fatal. No one has ever cost cut themselves to World Class.

An older study, yet still relevant today, conducted by Solomon Associates in 1994 in the refining industry concluded the following*… 

  • Improved reliability is unrelated to maintenance spending
  • Highest cost performers are very reactive and repair focused
  • The best performers required fewer expenditures for higher mechanical reliability
  • The best performers view recurring failures as unacceptable

It is fairly easy to understand: high reliability equates to lower operating costs.  To achieve higher reliability performance requires improvement on the following key elements of an effective asset maintenance management system:

´    Work Order Control

´    Materials Management

´    Work Planning and Scheduling

´    Effective Leadership

´    Preventive Maintenance

´    Predictive Maintenance

´    Proactive Maintenance

´    Reliability Engineering

´    Failure Analysis

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.

Establishing Proactive Maintenance


How can you move from a reactive to a proactive maintenance environment?

One element of this answer, although not as simple as it seems, is through structure and organization. A key system for establishing a proactive maintenance department is setting up an effective PM program. The difficulty in establishing an effective PM program is keeping up with PMs when there is so much emergency work.

To change your behaviors and ensure that the PMs are completed, your maintenance crew cannot be pulled away from PMs to do corrective or emergency work. One way to alleviate this problem is to create a dedicated PM team/crew that handles PMs only. Now, as fires will still need to be put out you must establish a dedicated "Do it Now" Squad (DIN) to manage all emergency work. The beauty to this organization and structure is that as the PM crew hits their goals, the DIN Squad will have less emergency work to do.

Over time, with other elements such as planning and scheduling, this behavior will help to transition a reactive environment to a proactive environment.

Effective Planning & Scheduling - 3 Key Partnerships (Quick Tip)


There are 3 key partnerships that must be formed in order to make the Planning & Scheduling improvement efforts more effective. These partnerships are leveraged by good working relations and communication between Operations, Parts, and Maintenance. These three departments are the cornerstones of a successful planning and scheduling process.

One effective tactic to build better relationships and communication is to include your production partner in the weekly maintenance scheduling meetings. They can provide assistance in work prioritization and scheduling machine downtime so maintenance work can be performed.

Build relationships, ask for people's professional opinion, and communicate openly about what you want to achieve. If you make people feel valuable, more often than not, they will help offer more support than you asked for.

Maintenance & Reliability Best Practices for Triathlons

Last Saturday, Andy Gager, Ricardo Garcia (Senior Consultant) and I took part in a triathlon called “Over the Mountain”, located in Kings Mountain NC.  The race consisted of a 1 mile lake swim, a 28 mile bike course and a 6.2 mile run. Racing in different age groups we each posted respectable times.  Ricardo’s outstanding performance earned him 7th place; out of 440 Marshall Institute Group on Race Dayracers. 

MRO Storeroom Best Practices - Are you Kitting me?

The storeroom is an integral part of an efficient and effective maintenance process. Equipment reliability, uptime, and frontline productivity rely on having the right spare parts and tools available in the right quantity when the work order is scheduled.  That's why having the correct tactical and strategic processes in place can turn your storeroom into a profit center.  Today we are going to focus on kitting, one of the key tactical processes.  Kitting is the process of identifying and preparing - in advance - the material and tools required to successfully execute the work order in the least disruptive manner.  Effective kitting requires other key maintenance systems such as planning, scheduling, and an established PM program to be in place.