Maintenance planners are tasked with eliminating the avoidable delays that reduce the efficiency of maintenance technicians. When we guide planner schedulers in our coaching activities, we find several common mistakes that include:
- Overestimating the skill level of the technicians: If a planner was one the best craftspeople before taking the planner scheduler role, they often assume that the technicians know how to perform all assigned tasks at the technical skill level (at least equal to theirs). In doing so, crucial details and precision approaches are not included in the the work order or job plan detail. Without precision steps, technicians are left to their own devices to sort it out. Often, the lack of detail translates to asset infant mortality issues from errors, and delays in work execution.
- Prioritizing in a shell: If the planner decides the relative urgency of the work without regard for input from other stakeholders, the plan will rarely be supported. Establishing work priorities is best accomplished via a standardized method that combines priorities and criticality for collective agreement with all stakeholders.
- Planning for failure: Some planners only plan and schedule enough work for a small portion of the available technician hours each day. The intent is to leave room for the break-in reactive work they expect to appear. We must have a process that evolves by increasing the level of schedule utilization over time so that we assign enough work, ultimately reaching 100% of the available hours.
- Measuring performance: Typically, measuring performance is reserved for higher level focus items such as maintenance costs, pm compliance and so on. We tend to forget that measures can and should be used to drive behaviors. The role of the planner is no exception. Often, planner scheduler performance is not measured, and without a number for continuous improvement, individuals can become complacent. What measures demonstrate planner performance? Set reasonable goals and give them a set of measurement numbers that they can strive to improve.
- Estimate variances: Wild variances between planned hours and actual hours most likely stem from no set method of planning. Planners often just say “that’s a 4-hour job” for example, and round everything up this way.
- Role misunderstood: Planners often are found chasing parts or physically standing at the site of a reactive job to “help” out in some fashion. The future work they were supposed to be working on suffers as a result.
Are there others that you have encountered in your Maintenance Planning and Scheduling program? We would love to hear from you!