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.