Focus on Reliability


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Maintenance Planning and Scheduling Survey

Maintenance PlannerHow is your Maintenance Planning and Scheduling organization aligned? What about the Planner/ Scheduler(s) compensation? Are the Planner(s) focused on the future?

I was recently teaching a Maintenance Planning and Scheduling course when I addressed some of these questions for the class. As an outcome, I wanted to put some of the questions to the audience and get your input. To that end, I have created a survey. Once the results are in, I will provide a more comprehensive article on the outcome. It’s a short 13 questions and should take less than 3 to 4 minutes of your time to complete. Please take a few minutes and complete the survey which can be found here at Thank you in advance for helping to foster the discussions in the Maintenance community.

Cheers, Jeff

Get more information on how to improve your maintenance planning and scheduling processes or learn how we guide you to success in the process here. There you will find our training courses, planner coaching, assessment, and more resources.

Topics: Planning and Scheduling

Maintenance Planning |Maintenance Technicians or Maintenance Planners?

Do you believe that a Maintenance Technician should perform job planning for some of their work or is that solely the role of the Maintenance Planner?  If you find for the Technician, should a Work Order be written by the Maintenance Planner to account for the Technician’s time?

This is a question that came up in a recent 4 part Maintenance and Reliability for Managers course I was facilitating just last week.  A primary goal of Maintenance Planning and Scheduling is to drive the efficiency of the crafts by preparing job plans that contain the crafts required, estimated hours, materials, tasks and sequence, and so on.  If the crafts are preparing their own plans, then why do we need the Planner you might ask?

I think that there is middle ground in this discussion. Yes, we want the Planner developing job plans and other Maintenance Planning functions.  I’ll add that we want the Maintenance Planner focused on the future (next week and beyond).  However, the Maintenance Planner can’t be everything to everyone and aren’t experts in all the jobs they may be asked to plan. 

Topics: Planning and Scheduling Maintenance Management

Focus on Reliability | The Need for Maintenance Planning

Maintenance Planning and SchedulingNow that the holidays are over and we are settling back into our normal routines, it’s time for reflection.  I was flipping through articles from last year when I landed on Raymond L. Atkins clever article that was published in Maintenance Technology magazine  entitled How To Begin Maintenance Planning. The article relates Raymond’s experiences when his children were small and as Santa, he was charged with the assembly of the toys on Christmas Eve.

I can appreciate Raymond’s perspective even more now with grandchildren (geez, I’m getting older). How many of you got caught up on the night before Christmas putting together all of the children’s presents? Did it go as smoothly as it could have? Did you feel any time pressures and upper management (Mrs. Claus) pressure to get the job done before the children popped out of their rooms to see what Santa had brought? I don’t know about where you live but I can tell you that around my home, most every store that I could get parts or tools from shuts down early in the evening on Christmas Eve. This is long before I open the boxes at night to begin the assembly, only to find that parts are missing.  So, if I don’t have the spare parts and tools in the garage, I’m done for when the morning comes which is always too quick anyway.

Sadly, many Maintenance organizations face a similar struggle and it doesn’t have to be that way.  Start the New Year off with a effective planning and scheduling approach. If you don’t have a Maintenance Planner Scheduler, make an effort to staff one.  Ideally, you should have one for every 20 – 30 technicians. Believe it or not, you can actually get a payback with one Maintenance Planner for every two technicians if your wrench time is low now.  Management isn’t interested in headcount increases so you may have to take a technician and make them a Maintenance Planner out of your existing headcount. Ideally, the Maintenance Planner should be a craftsperson anyway.

Get more information on how to improve your maintenance planning and scheduling processes or learn how we guide you to success in the process here. There you will find our training courses, planner coaching, assessment, and more resources.

If you have the Planner position filled, that individual needs to be creating job plans that detail the crafts, estimated hours, and parts at a minimum to enable the technicians to work smarter. Don’t get wrapped around the axle trying to create the perfect job plan, just get it started and ask the technicians to provide input on the plan contents.  How could it be better? What parts and materials are missing? You could even think of the task list as a punch list, so what do you need to check before you leave the job?
Topics: Planning and Scheduling

Focus on Reliability | Maintenance Planning and Scheduling | Stop Struggling

Is your organization struggling with implementing or sustaining Maintenance Planning and Scheduling?  While the benefits of Maintenance Planning and Scheduling are widely recognized, many organizations find difficulty in attempting to implement or sustain the effort. In this article, we’ll examine some of the reasons why and hopefully, provide some solutions to that you can put in place to move your organization further down the path of success.

Topics: Planning and Scheduling

Focus on Reliability | Maintenance Planning and Scheduling | Maximize your Bill of Materials (BOMs)

Maintenance Planning and SchedulingYou are the Maintenance Planner Scheduler at Alpha XY Corporation.  It’s the first thing on Monday morning and you run a scan for unplanned jobs that have popped up in your queue since last week.  Among the jobs to be planned is one to rebuild a pump at the Slurry Feed system. You scan your Job Plan Library and notice this one has never been done before so you head out to the field to research the job.  At the job site, you make your notes and take a few pictures with a camera to help your planning effort.

Back at the desk, you attempt to pull up the Bill of Materials for that piece of equipment in the Functional Location. It turns out there is no Bill of Material (BOM).  When you look at the asset information for that Functional Location, there is nothing that you could order the pump by. While you are in the discovery mode for the pump, you notice that the adjacent equipment is not reflected in the CMMS either. Geez! Well it happens that you did get the nameplate data from the pump when you visited the site so you can pull the spare from the Storeroom and send the pump for repair.  What about all of the other adjacent equipment that we have no information on?  How do we capture the data on those items and build the BOMs?

Since you have the information on the pump itself, you can pull the OEM parts list from the Vendor manual.  Using the work order information and your experience, you can make an educated guess on the parts required to rebuild it.  To start a Job Plan, all you need are the crafts required, the estimated hours, and the materials.  The Technician can provide the task steps and other Job Plan information on the work order feedback as part of a continuous improvement process.

Now that you have the OEM information, you should scan and link it to the equipment using the Document Management System.  For the parts that you are ordering, you should create Material Masters with stock levels of 0/0 for non-stock items so that you can track usage and link these to the BOM for that pump. Since you are sending the Technician out to do the work, why not enable them to capture the nameplate data on the adjacent equipment as well while there?  Once you identify that data, you can create the equipment assets in the CMMS so that you can order replacements if needed. In addition, you can gather the OEM parts list and other information, linking it to the equipment through the Document Management System like you did the pump.

See, for sites that don’t have a comprehensive asset listing and nameplate data, this is how we collect it. We typically don’t have the resources to do a complete and thorough walk-down across the site to accomplish this work all at one time if not done as part of the equipment installation. So we do it little by little, one area at a time. To facilitate the collection of nameplate data, we provide the Technicians with asset specification templates depending on the type of asset, i.e. a pump, motor, or gearbox. At a minimum inside your CMMS for each equipment type, you have fields that are needed, much like a specification sheet. This is the information required to order a replacement, the model number, serial number, frame size, hp, etc.

Topics: Planning and Scheduling Maintenance Management Maintenance Storeroom Stockroom

Uptime Magazine - Fishbone Diagram finished

I started these posts on the using the Fishbone Diagram (Cause and Effect) for Maintenance Planning and Scheduling but choose to finish the series in the article in Uptime magazine that you can find here. This actually explains the delay in my posting to the blog.

Speak soon,

Topics: Planning and Scheduling

Methods within Maintenance Planning and Scheduling

Maintenance PlannerContinuing on with the Fish Bone Diagram concept with respect to Maintenance Planning and Scheduling, let’s take a moment to review the Methods component. We already defined it Methods as how the process is performed and the specific requirements to perform the tasks, including time estimates.

Ideally, the Maintenance Planner should spend one third of the day in researching jobs that need Maintenance planning. While visiting the job site, they should be determining the methods required perform the job, or the tasks. For example, you may need to remove a pump that is coupled to a gearbox which is coupled to a motor. Space may be limited.

Topics: Planning and Scheduling

Focus on Reliability | Maintenance Planning Scheduling | The Man Aspect

Maintenance Planning and SchedulingIn the previous post, I discussed the parallels of the Fish Bone Diagram as related to Maintenance Planning and Scheduling.  Let’s dig a little deeper with respect to the “Man” portion in this article.

As a Maintenance Planner, you need to research the job and determine the type of craft resources required.  Are multiple crafts required, such as an Electrician to disconnect and a Millwright to change out the pump as examples?  Are you writing parent – child work orders to segment the job requirements? Based on your research, how complex is the job? A simple pump change may be accomplished by journeymen but a complex pump rebuild may require a higher skill level.  It is important to note these items on the Maintenance job plan.

A next question will be how many resources are required?  We have to be careful that we assign the correct number of people to the task.  There is always a tendency to plan for two craftspeople to do the work but is that really needed?  Furthermore depending on the organization, if two people are required; can you assign a journeyman and a helper as opposed to 2 journeymen?

When it comes to scheduling the resources, the decision must be made based on the availability and complexity of the work to utilize your internal resources, or contract the work out.  If the task is a higher skill level that your organization may not possess like  vibration analysis, you may be required to outsource the tasks.

Another consideration is the man hour estimate required to accomplish each of the tasks. Recognize that each time we do the work; the times will vary based on the experience of the people doing the work and the complexity of the tasks at the time of the event.

Topics: Planning and Scheduling

Focus on Reliability | Maintenance Planning | Fishbone Diagram

Maintenance Planning and SchedulingThere is so much similarity in all that we do within the Maintenance Planning and Scheduling world that compares to other separate and distinct functions. Let me explain.  Borrowing from Root Cause Analysis process methods, I trust you are familiar with the Ishikawa diagrams (also called fish bone diagrams or cause-and-effect diagrams).  These diagrams are one method that is used  for product design, quality defect avoidance or variation, or to identify factors that lead to some event, hence the use in Root Cause Analysis.

The categories typically include:
  • Man (people)
  • Methods: How the process is performed and the specific requirements to perform the tasks, including time estimates.
  • Machines: Any equipment, tools etc. needed to do the job
  • Materials: Consumables, parts required
  • Measurements: Data generated from the process

All of these items combine together to create some output or event. In the case of Maintenance Planning and Scheduling, hopefully they combine to maintain or restore the reliability of equipment as an example.  See in all we do, it's important to remember that every product i.e. maintaining equipment is the result of a process.  Let's break them down individually for Maintenance Planning and Scheduling,
  • Man - People or staffing, which crafts, skill requirements, number of people, contractors or vendors.
  • Methods - The job plan task steps and sequence. Items like permits, manuals, and so forth.
  • Machines - What special tools, man lift, ladder, etc.
  • Materials - What consumables or parts do I need to restore the equipment
  • Measurements - What do we need to know to improve the job plan, or in the case of a condition-based monitoring task, take measurements to find something in act of failing to allow planned restoration?

Interestingly, all of these items roll up to complete a great the Job Plan and Job Package  that should be created by the Maintenance Planner. If I didn't have time to complete all of these items, which three should I focus on first to ensure that I could drive craft effectiveness? From a Maintenance Scheduling perspective, I need the manpower requirements, estimated hours, and the materials.

Topics: Planning and Scheduling

Welcome to the Focus on Reliability Blog

Jeff Shiver is a Maintenance and Reliability professionalFirst, let me take a moment to introduce myself.  I'm Jeff Shiver, a Certified Maintenance and Reliability professional who was a practitioner for many years prior to moving over  to People and Processes, Inc. I really enjoy the people aspect of things as well.

Topics: Planning and Scheduling Advanced CMMS/ EAM Systems Shutdowns and Turnarounds