Maintenance is a key element that influences the true success of any organization. Maintenance teams directly impact your production output by contributing to the overall uptime and reliability of your organization’s most important assets. The efforts of maintenance execution teams are not always appreciated, however. When assets are taken down for maintenance, production comes to a standstill. As a result, pressures build and a disconnect between different segments of the maintenance team develops.
Planners and schedulers often find themselves used as the scapegoat when the maintenance execution team fails to meet the organization’s compliance to schedule goals. Rationalizations for the failure often include statements like ‘the planners did not plan the work adequately, parts and labour on the work order were insufficient” or “the schedulers did not leave enough time for this asset to be repaired”. In addition, the utilization of resources has often been poorly managed which results in additional costs to the business. Maintenance, execution and executive teams alike are eager to correct these issues and ensure success for each team and for the overall company.
Having been involved in many asset management improvement programs across the globe – the equation for success is having a well-documented work management process closely aligned with reputable supplementary tools to support the program. There are 4 simple steps your company can follow to align their work management process and ensure maximum success from their overall maintenance execution team.
Starting from the basics, performing an asset criticality assessment on the plant is a must do. Following the completion of this assessment, most organizations, as part of operational readiness, would look to develop their maintenance execution tactics, otherwise referred to as strategies.
Upon completion of the design of these strategies, the next steps are to digitize them in the form of activities and have them registered in the CMMS. These digital strategies will include well researched and defined operational routing sequences with a bill of materials and labour associations. From here, the maintenance activities are then assigned to an optimized preventative maintenance (PM) schedule. The PM work orders for these activities can be automatically forecasted and implemented for a given horizon.
Once the PM work orders are implemented – these work orders together with the non-PM work orders must adhere to a planning standard. Advanced planning and scheduling tools, like Prometheus Planning & Scheduling, enable these work orders to go through a work order quality check process. Here the work orders are staged in quarantine until they meet a specific set of planning standards.
Upon satisfying the standards, the work orders are then endorsed by planning and released to the Scheduling Work Bench. From here, the scheduler has comfort in knowing the work he will be scheduling has met the minimum planning standards and has successfully passed through the planning gate.
The Scheduling phase of the process is very interesting, far too often Schedulers are forced to guess their capacity to load against. Lack of communication with the Maintenance Execution Team Leads makes this process very cumbersome. There is a simple solution and that is a combination of accountability and establishing an auditable chain of custody. Let me elaborate more ….
Execution Team Leads are responsible for their respective disciplines – they are the first point of contact when a tradesperson wants to request a leave of absence or has some form of exception. As a result, having a centralized electronic maintenance rostering system integrated into the scheduling module is crucial.
Utilizing this rostering system, the execution team leads can provide the scheduling team with the most up to date status of the relevant tradespeople. This has significant benefits, as it means the schedulers have visibility of the resources available to carry out the work. The schedulers will use this information as a guide to load the weeks’ work.
Following the draft / rough cut planning meeting where the schedulers present the schedule to the execution team, a process of electronic finite leveling can occur. Work can be added or pulled from the draft. Closer to the end of the week a final cut planning meeting is held where the schedule for next week is confirmed. At this stage, it’s also a forum for the supervisors to formally accept ownership of the work. Supplementary tools like Prometheus Reporting & Analytics offer advanced reporting including snapshotting capabilities to lock in the committed schedule.
Once the Schedule is locked – the next steps are managing the execution of the work. The challenge many organizations face is a decaying backlog and forward load. Un-managed backlog and forward load can be detrimental to the organization. The solution to this is very simple – the execution team needs to take ownership of the work that has been accepted for the planning cycle. It helps if the backlog is being managed strategically. For more on this, please see “Maintenance Backlog: Take Control with a Priority Index.”
If they cannot complete the accepted work, there should be an electronic tag and the work order should be sent back for rescheduling with decent commentary as to why the work was not executed and a suggested date to reschedule. Earlier on I mentioned snapshotting the schedule, so the next part is being able to track the performance of execution (*Compliance to Schedule). From here management can trend and review the performance of the execution team. Having this level of visibility will enable management to trend and track the performance of work execution.
Tracking, trending and monitoring work execution is useful information to improve asset health and reliability. It is evident that having a well-defined business process supported by advanced asset management tools can result in lower downtime of equipment and high productivity. Furthermore, specifically defining ownership of tasks and roles ensures that if a break in the process does occur, the correct area can be modified to ensure future success. When you take your maintenance planning, scheduling and execution teams beyond just changing dates and fixing assets, and focus specifically on the process, your organization can realize significant success