Focus on Reliability

As the Wheel Turns

Wheel Turns - Web

Another recent question around Maintenance Planning and Scheduling is how the process is integral to Maintenance and Reliability?  Can we get by without it?   Can’t I just let the Supervisor do it?  What is the minimum number of people a Planner Scheduler should plan for?

Consider the motions a technician goes through without Planning.  They receive the work order, walk over to the job site, and look over the tasks to execute the job.  If they don’t have the information to determine the parts required or how to disassemble/ assemble, they go off searching for the equipment manual.  Once they find the manual, they head over to the Storeroom to get the parts, assuming those are in stock. Finally, they head back over to the job, only to discover they need a tool they don’t have.  The cycle repeats over and over with the same job.   Reality is that they plan a little, shag parts and information, do a little execution, and then, do it all over again until the job is finally finished.  The next time the job is required (50% chance in 5 years time to repeat the same job), we didn’t capture the steps from the last time, so the Tech does it all over again.  Repeat these cycles for every Tech that you have executing work.

Contrast these cycles with a properly planned job. In the properly planned job, you spend more time on the front end assessing and preparing for the job before you send your most expensive hourly resources to do the work.  The Planner Scheduler’s primary role is to drive improved craft efficiency.  No, we’re not asking people to work harder, only smarter.  Studies have shown that for every $1 you spend on planning the job saves $3-$5 in execution.  With most organizations seeing a wrench time of approximately 35%, it’s not uncommon to see upwards of a 50% or greater improvement in efficiency.  If you have 30 Technicians, you could gain the equivalent of an additional 17 Technicians by simply eliminating the wasted efforts in hunting information, chasing parts, and waiting on the equipment to become available as examples. 

Maintenance Planning and Scheduling is central to breaking that vicious reactive cycle.  Every function surrounding equipment maintenance revolves around Planning and Scheduling like spokes leaving the central hub on a wheel.  These spokes include Supervision, Materials Management, Procurement, Production, Quality, PM activities, and Project Engineering as examples.

The Maintenance Planner Scheduler should have a strategic focus on next week and beyond.  The Supervisor is tactical, dealing with “today” and this week.  If you ask a Supervisor to handle planning, when the emergencies come today or this week; the first thing thrown out the window is planning for the future.  The span of control for a Planner Scheduler is 15-30 people to plan for.  Some companies have identified a savings for having a Planner Scheduler for as few as 4-5 people.  Most organizations tend to enlist the Planner Scheduler function when they have 9-10 Technicians to plan for.  If you don’t have a Planner Scheduler, you would be surprised at the gains you can achieve by simply taking 1 of the 10 and making them a Planner Scheduler.

Need help developing a plan?  Join us at a Maintenance Planning and Scheduling public session or bring it onsite.

Planning for Failure Checklist

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If you want to ensure equipment reliability at the lowest possible cost, you have to plan for it. With any asset, you need to address the following questions:

Filling Up the Glass

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I wonder how many don’t have Planner Schedulers? Even a better question is if the Planner exists, whether they are actually planning and scheduling or simply being project managers or shagging parts for today’s work?

If you have Planner Schedulers who are doing the intended job, then I don’t need to tell you about the benefits. If you don’t have them, and you have more than 10 or so wrench turners, then you really need to understand the benefits of Maintenance Planning and Scheduling can bring to your organization. Send me an email and I’ll help you learn why you need to invest in this position.

If you have Planner Schedulers that are new to the role, you need to get them educated. While we offer great training in this and other areas, there are lots of competent providers out there in addition to People and Processes. If your Planner Scheduler is not new to the role and has not been educated, there is no better time that now to do this to help recoup your investment. This is the first step in filling the glass halfway.

Now, on to the meat of this post … Once you have sent your Planner Schedulers off to training, recognize that is only half of the requirement to reap the benefits of Planning and Scheduling. In many cases, the Planner Scheduler returns to the site, all pumped up; ready to plan and schedule work. They begin the process only to have the Maintenance Supervisor who they report to pulling them off to chase some parts needed for today. Or they begin their day by attending the morning Production meeting where issues from the last 24 hours are discussed. While they wanted to plan and schedule work, the issues of the last day dictate dealing with those issues. Maintenance Planning and Scheduling work for the future is thrown out to deal with today (a tactical focus).

Remember the focus of the Planner Scheduler is strategic, focused on the future, meaning next week. To fill the glass to the top, you need to ensure education for the rest of the organization on the roles and responsibilities of the Planner Schedulers, and the Maintenance Supervisors or Team Leaders. Specifically focus on those individuals who interact with the Planning and Scheduling function to include Production/ Operations and other management. On a parallel path, couple this with coaching and mentoring for the Planner Schedulers where a knowledgeable consultant comes and “walks a mile in their moccasins” to identify obstacles that are preventing effective Planning and Scheduling. The consultant will help ensure the Planner Schedulers are performing in the role, such as doing job research, creating job plans with estimates, crafts required, and materials needed as a minimum, and scheduling the work. In addition, the consultant will identify the obstacles in the business processes around work management and interactions. As a manager, your job is to remove those obstacles and rework the processes to gain the benefits. Only then will you have filled the glass with respect to true Maintenance Planning and Scheduling.

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