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By David Berger, P.Eng., contributing editor
In last month’s column, four guiding principles were discussed for ensuring maintenance roles and responsibilities are meaningful, well understood and effective, in order to get the most out of your CMMS. Three key roles were introduced including maintainer, supervisor and admin roles. This month’s column continues to explore key maintenance roles and how to deal effectively with multiple roles, especially in smaller maintenance shops and across multiple shifts in larger companies.
Planner role: Many companies have yet to realize the tremendous value the planner role brings, regardless of the size of maintenance operations. For smaller companies with, say, fewer than 10 maintainers on a single shift for a single plant, the head of maintenance might also take on the role of planner, scheduler, and coordinator, in addition to supervisory duties. For larger companies, with, say, more than 50 maintainers on multiple shifts and possibly multiple plants, there is typically ample justification for hiring one or more full-time positions to assume the role of planner, or a combined planner/scheduler or planner/scheduler/coordinator.
The larger and more dispersed the maintenance operations, the more likely that planning is more effective as a stand-alone and even centralized function. For maintenance operations that fall somewhere in between 10 and 50 maintainers, there may or may not be justification of a dedicated maintenance planner, however, the role always is required.
“This month’s column continues to explore key maintenance roles and how to deal effectively with multiple roles, especially in smaller maintenance shops and across multiple shifts in larger companies.”
The primary responsibility of the maintenance-planner role is to ensure adequate labor skills, materials, tools, facilities, or contracted services for the long-term optimization of asset availability, performance, reliability, quality of output and cost, throughout the entire lifecycle of all operating assets. Typically the planning horizon extends from the expected life of a given asset in the long term to an annual maintenance program in the medium term, down to next month’s planned activities in the short term.
The planner role develops and constantly updates the maintenance program which ensures that all work done by the maintenance department is 100% planned. This may surprise some people because how can maintainers know, for example, which equipment will fail today? Achieving 100% planned work is a worthy target because all work done by maintainers can be classified as one of five possible categories.
For every asset or component, starting with the most critical, the maintenance planner systematically weighs the cost/benefit of each maintenance policy — items 1-3 above — against the consequence of failure, in order to determine the optimal maintenance program. Non-maintenance work — Item 4 — is planned based on actual and historical demand, subject to constraints such as resource availability, relative priority, cost, and the skills required. Contracted work — Item 5 — is typically used for work requiring specialized skills or for offsetting busy demand periods.
Other key responsibilities of the maintenance planner role are to: