Focus on Reliability

Focus on Reliability | Maintenance Planning and Scheduling | One, Both, Either

I was involved in a discussion on Linkedin recently when the question was asked It is believed that you can plan without scheduling but cannot schedule without planning – the discussion took some twists and turns until I thought I’d post my experiences with this question – this is what I wrote!

I'll just give my experiences and then move on. Over 40 years ago I was hired as a Planning and Scheduling Manager with British Steel at a plant with over 300 tradesmen and a shut down somewhere in the plant Sunday-Thursday. We used a huge mainframe computer to run our CMMS. We had prep work orders, task work orders, and subsequent work orders. Durations were based on time studies of representative maintenance tasks. We kitted work orders and delivered the parts to the job site the day before. Everything was done by the 'book' and worked very well with everyone happy that we had improved efficiencies.

Fast forward 10 years to Canada where the steel industry didn't have a CMMS, planning was done through experience of people doing the job and scheduling was fairly simple - we had a down day every two weeks and any work that was scheduled was scheduled for them. Efficiencies were terrible. 5 years later to the paper industry - we had a CMMS we had a planner and we planned lots of work to start. What we found was that we had a growing backlog list full of planned jobs because we only shut down once a month and contractors didn't have the specific skill sets we needed. 

We realized we couldn't carry on like this as work wasn't getting done as we had limited hours to be scheduled. We decided on the 24/7 board mentioned in Chapter 10 of the book ‘People – A Reliability Success Story’ where we kitted work orders - had the parts in bins in the stores with w.o. number and the board with jobs that took 2-4-8 hours that maintenance on the off shifts could do if the mill went down for a non- maintenance reason (My good friend George has suggested that this was scheduled but I don't consider it so). This very quickly brought our backlog under control and efficiencies ended up as World Class. Now we were starting to get to effective maintenance planning and scheduling. We still scheduled in the real sense wherever we could until we reached a point where we were looking for work to schedule! The next few years were spent in the food industry that was heavily planned and scheduled - though the planning sometimes wasn't so strong - with high speed machines I was difficult to determine the exact problem.

Planning consisted of having w.o. that said 'Investigate......' and the work that transpired.... transpired! But it was clearly scheduled as the lines were shut down on a schedule that never got changed. Now to today - we make some nasty chemicals we don't like shutting down and starting up (induced failures). We only have planned maintenance shutdowns for about 3 or 4 days a year so scheduling work is pretty difficult. We plan extremely well with parts kitted for w.o. soft committed in out CMMS and in a bin in the stores and then if the plant should shut down for any reason we try and get some work done - as I said before this is not 'nice to have' it is essential that we are prepared to take advantage of any time available because 'schedule hours' are simply not available!

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So summary! - You will get better efficiencies if you are able to plan and schedule - without doubt. You can Plan and not schedule but this means that things are not under your total control and takes a much more flexible mindset and work force. You can actually schedule with little planning ( food industry example) but you can find yourself in trouble as some jobs ended up running over the scheduled shutdown due to the unkowns of the problem - the thing about this is that management don't go crazy when this happens as they understand the context under which maintenance has to operate. Newer machines and high speed cameras are beginning to help in this situation. All of these have been real and practical examples

So you can aim for Nirvana but reality, pressures, and production needs may force you to be more flexible – wherever you find yourself then the secret to success is understanding your operating context and are as prepared as much as you can be.Click to edit your new post...

Topics: Planning and Scheduling