6 Maintenance Scheduling Principles to Improve Overall Workforce Efficiency

If you could increase the amount of time your company’s resources, engineers, and technicians are actually working and eliminate your backlog of work orders while also reducing the amount of waste — wasted time, wasted materials, wasted labor, wasted money — within your organization, you’d do it, right?

As we mentioned in our previous article, "6 Maintenance Planning Principles for Success in Planning & Scheduling," maintenance planning can help your organization make the move from reactive to proactive, from wasteful to efficient, from failing to succeeding. But work planning is only the first step. Without a fully developed and implemented maintenance scheduling program, your organization can only improve so much.

Work scheduling is the process in which all required maintenance-related resources are scheduled to be used within a specific time. To ensure proper maintenance scheduling, you must account for the technician's knowledge as well as the availability of materials, tools, equipment and assets.

There are six principles that can dramatically improve your maintenance scheduling. By implementing these principles, it is possible to increase your company’s productivity, regain control of your backlog, eliminate guesswork, and quickly adjust to unexpected situations and specific needs.

Let’s take a deeper look at each of the six maintenance scheduling principles.

1. Plan For The Lowest Required Skill Level

  • A job plan is a documented description of the job steps. Each job plan should clearly identify the skills necessary to perform the work, and schedulers should take into consideration any special crafts, materials, tools and resources required.
  • The plan should stipulate the number of technicians, work hours per skill level and the total duration of the job.
  • Always assign two workers, and never estimate based on half or whole increments of a shift.
  • Planning for the lowest skill level required reduces the chance that you’ll send two of your best workers to a job that only needs one expert and one helper. Ultimately, you increase a technician’s wrench-on time and the ability to complete other work orders.

2. Prioritize Daily and Weekly Schedules

  • It’s vital that you stick to your daily and weekly schedules; however, there will always be more work coming in, and sometimes, it’s unplanned.
  • Define what constitutes emergency work, and document a process for how you will prioritize and handle in-progress, non-urgent and emergency work.
  • If a schedule is disrupted, to reduce the impact, it’s best to postpone a job that hasn’t been started rather than interrupt a job that is currently in progress.

3. Schedule Based on the Forecasted Hours Available for the Highest Skill Level

  • Each crew should have a weekly schedule that’s based on the forecasted hours available for the highest skill level, which should be provided by the crew’s supervisor.
  • The schedule should include the job priority level and the job plan and should be based on how much work the crew can realistically finish.
  • Scheduling from the forecast of highest skills available allows crews to accomplish more work by reducing coordination delays.

4. Assign Work for Every Work Hour Available

  • When scheduling, identify jobs that can be easily interrupted by emergencies and urgent, reactive jobs without impacting the overall process too much.
  • When 100 percent of available hours are scheduled, you can view different metrics and key performance indicators of your schedule. If you under-schedule, you’re simply building inefficiency into the schedule. If you overschedule, you’re increasing the likelihood of poor performance on schedule compliance.

5. Develop the Daily Schedule One Day in Advance

  • The supervisor should plan the next day’s schedule based on the current jobs in progress, the weekly schedule, and any new high-priority and unplanned work.
  • When scheduling the current day’s work, the supervisor should match the technician's skills to their tasks.
  • The supervisor should be prepared to address any emergency work that arises.

6. Measure Performance With Schedule Compliance

  • Schedule compliance measures how well your organization followed the weekly schedule of jobs scheduled and jobs started.
  • The best way to measure scheduling performance and workforce efficiency is through wrench-on time.
  • When work is planned prior to assignment, you reduce the coordination delays during and between jobs.

The entire planning and scheduling program should include work identification, work planning, work scheduling, work execution, work completion and work analysis. When you have both asset reliability and maintenance reliability, you’ll see an increase in both effectiveness and efficiency.

To support your team in implementing the proper scheduling principles, you’ll need to make sure all your processes are documented. Additionally, everyone within your organization should have a clear understanding of the definition of a planned job.

Improve Your Overall Performance Metrics

When you follow the six maintenance planning principles and the above six maintenance scheduling principles, you can increase wrench-on time from 35 percent to 65 percent. That means a technician working an eight-hour day will go from completing less than three hours of actual work to completing more than five hours of actual work.

Instead of running a reactive company where you only fix something after it fails, you’ll be running a maintenance center of excellence where everyone from the technicians to the supervisor shares a vision; supply, operations and engineering are integrated; system performance is constantly improving; and organizational metrics are aligned.

So the next time one of your maintenance team technician's call in sick, instead of wasting time figuring out whether you’ll have enough resources to perform the work needed to keep your operations running smoothly, with efficient planning and scheduling, you can quickly and easily reassign tasks based on availability, reschedule work that can be done later without impacting operations, better manage your work order backlog, and track schedule compliance.

Check out our whitepaper on the best practices of maintenance planning and scheduling or reach out to us today to learn more about how you can improve your maintenance efficiency.