Maintenance planning and scheduling: Setting people up for success

April 4, 2018
Consider what defines success for the oncoming personnel. What information needs to be exchanged and how can the direction of the oncoming shift be determined?
Question: In our organization, we appear to be our own worst enemy. What are some things we can do to set ourselves up for success day-to-day?

Becky, maintenance supervisor, SC

Answer: Hello, Becky. In a manufacturing environment, ideally, each production crew sets up the oncoming shift for success. This is accomplished by, for example, staging raw and packaging materials, cleaning up areas, performing basic operator asset care, and finishing the shift’s documentation activities. As part of the process, there should be a communication event or handoff that provides updates on the past 24 hours, covering primarily the previous shift, and sets the direction for the day. Some organizations call this the “daily direction meeting.” With these meetings, consider what defines success for the oncoming personnel. What information needs to be exchanged and how can the direction of the oncoming shift be determined?

It’s no different for the maintenance function, as maintenance personnel have a responsibility to set themselves and others up for success, too. In the maintenance world, effective planning and scheduling is the first step. Planning the job requires a minimum of identifying the trades needed (and in what quantities), the overall job duration, and materials needed, just for starters. With more detailed planning, safety considerations, permits required (e.g. a line-break permit), detailed tasks steps, rental equipment, and specialized tools become part of the job plan. Maintenance scheduling provides an expectation of work to be executed and targets for when it will be accomplished. Scheduling also offers the opportunity to coordinate resources for maximum efficiency. The advance kitting and staging of materials is part of the setup, too. Crew members from one shift can help with the staging/delivery of parts for upcoming shifts.

Between planning and scheduling, avoidable delays are addressed, which drives the efficiency of the tradespeople. Simply put, we get more done. Operations gains an understanding of how long the equipment may be out of service and when it should be available again. Ideally, planning and scheduling drives improved work execution and ultimately asset reliability when the right work is performed using precision approaches.

Remember that maintenance work is repetitive. Another tactic is using work feedback (a feedback form) to enable the organization to improve job plans and job-plan libraries continually.The next time the job plan is issued, we can leverage the improvements.

We can also help another partner. The storeroom benefits when the organization has time to identify future work. This approach allows for a reduction in the spare parts inventory required and lower expediting costs.

I’ll add that comparing the first paragraph to the others, you can see that the maintenance function is part of a more-extensive partnership among production, storeroom, and safety, as examples.

What other insights did I leave out? I suspect you can identify different proactive approaches to set up the maintenance group for success. Please share your thoughts and feedback.

Email me at the address below,and I will respond or place your questions with my answers here.

Talk soon,
Jeff Shiver, CMRP

If you have problems in the fields of maintenance, reliability, planning and scheduling, MRO storerooms, or leadership, please contact Jeff Shiver with your question(s) here.

About the Author

Jeff Shiver | Founder and managing principal at People and Processes, Inc.

Jeff Shiver CMRP is a founder and managing principal at People and Processes, Inc. Jeff guides people to achieve success in maintenance and reliability practices using common sense approaches. Visit or email [email protected].

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