How much of your maintenance capacity is planned and scheduled?

Stanton McGroarty says cost management starts with spending control.

By J. Stanton McGroarty, CMfgE, CMRP, senior technical editor

The KPI “percent of maintenance planned and scheduled” is the total hours of maintenance work performed in a period that have been properly planned and scheduled by maintenance planners, divided by the total hours of maintenance work performed in the same period.

Derivation: The concept is simple, but the data have to be developed. Proper planning and scheduling of maintenance work is typically a multi-week process during which asset work history, staff and contractor requirements, spare parts lists, and work instructions are all gathered for each job to be done. Then arrangements are made to schedule all of these maintenance elements so that they will be present when and where the job is to be performed.

This KPI requires that a list of planned and scheduled work orders be maintained and that an effort is made to only schedule routine, non-emergency work that has been planned. Establishing the planning process and using planned work to build the maintenance schedule is a major change to most companies’ operating approaches.

It is also essential that the actual available maintenance crew capacity, by trade, for each period be developed and used as the denominator in this calculation. Since proper scheduling requires capacity numbers for each week, it’s not an unreasonable burden to insist on it for the KPI calculation.

Scheduled work percentage is computed as follows:

Percent of Maintenance Capacity Planned and Scheduled = Total Number of Hours of Planned and Scheduled Maintenance Work Performed in a Period/Total Number of Hours of Maintenance Capacity Available in the Same Period.

Significance: Maintenance work falls into three categories — work that is handled as emergencies; work that is planned, scheduled, and performed as routine; and work that just happens without planning or scheduling. The amount of work in the third category should range from zero to a very small percentage of maintenance capacity. This unplanned work exposes the organization to the same waste and extra expense as emergency work. Non-emergency work should wait until it can be properly planned and scheduled.

Many organizations feel that some unplanned, non-emergency work is inevitable and give it names like “free effort” or “minor maintenance.” The existence of this category poses some danger to an emerging maintenance planning effort. The only way to control this danger is to maintain the planning percentage KPI and enforce a rigid definition of free-effort work. A typical definition would be “work that can be performed with the tools on a tradesperson’s belt in half an hour or less.” If free-effort work exceeds 2% or 3% of maintenance capacity, it begins to constitute a serious leak in the planning system.

J. Stanton McGroarty, CMfgE, CMRP, is senior technical editor of Plant Services. He was formerly consulting manager for Strategic Asset Management International (SAMI), where he focused on project management and training for manufacturing, maintenance and reliability engineering. He has more than 30 years of manufacturing and maintenance experience in the automotive, defense, consumer products and process manufacturing industries. He holds a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering from the Detroit Institute of Technology and a master’s degree in management from Central Michigan University. He can be reached at smcgroarty@putman.net or check out his .

Getting started: Maintenance-organization projects often ignore the existence of free-effort work. When the percentage planned KPI is computed, the time devoted to free effort becomes part of the time that is not accounted for. This makes it an embarrassment to managers and causes them to minimize free effort by requiring work orders for all maintenance work. This is not a bad approach.

Companies that wish to acknowledge free-effort work can pull a weekly work order and charge free-effort work to it. Initially these work orders will become catchalls for free-effort work and unproductive time. Since these work orders are not planned, they will lower the planned work KPI, having much the same impact on management as the process of not acknowledging the work in the first place. In the end, it’s necessary for management to know what people are working on and try to ensure that the majority of it is properly planned and scheduled.

The importance of planning and scheduling work has been described in the January and February Management Measures columns. For readers who are new to this series, earlier columns are worth a read in the online edition of Plant Services.

Assessment of today’s situation: The amount of planned work must be tracked for two reasons. First, it is the reciprocal of, and therefore the check figure for, the “percentage of emergency work” KPI. All maintenance work is either emergency or planned, except maybe for a little free-effort work that is off the books. Unless the amount of planned work can be established, the KPI for the amount of emergency, unplanned work is meaningless. Second, as estimating of the time required for planned work becomes routine and the quality of estimates starts to improve, it’s essential to know that all work is accounted for and balanced against the maintenance departmental capacity.

Unless we know the number of available hours and how they are allocated to the different types of work, we can’t establish meaningful control of maintenance labor expense. These facts are the building blocks of management’s understanding of the business of maintenance. As controls improve, an understanding will develop of the maintenance work that goes into maintaining the different assets in the plant. Lifecycle cost management then becomes possible.

Read Stanton McGroarty's monthly column, Management Measures.

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