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Retaining and applying personalized information for individual plant assets

Sept. 2, 2021
Doc Palmer says saving work orders and feedback information for individual assets will create future plans with less work.
In the Maintenance Planning and Scheduling Handbook, I state the third principle of planning as the planner “maintains a simple, secure file system based on equipment tag numbers.” This statement might be a great understatement, as it is loaded with meaning. Planners must personalize and personalize and personalize information for individual assets.

Planners are really “craft historians that personalize information that we learn on individual assets and use that learning to help give better head starts each time we work on them over the years.” That’s a mouthful, but that’s what planners do. As we run the Deming Cycle of PDCA (Plan Do Check Act), we must save the helpful feedback that craftspersons provide after job completions. “Next time we do this job, it would better if we do this or do that instead.” “Next time we do this job, please remind me to …” But to be able to apply that learning, we must save the learning appropriately. Knowledge without application is useless.

Paper work order system and equipment tag number

Let’s first visualize using a paper work order system before using a CMMS. The work orders and feedback information must be saved for individual assets, not in large system files, and really not even in specific model equipment files. Large files such as keeping all the work orders for an entire system (multiple tanks, pumps, motors, and countless valves) are much too large to allow for retrieving the information later. There might be 1,000 work orders in the paper accordion file and you have no hope of finding the two or three work orders on the particular asset for the current work order.

Large files are to satisfy legal document retention requirements, and you hope you never have to hunt through the files. It’s easy to file, but difficult to retrieve the paper work orders later. On the other hand, small, component-level files for each asset make the filing much more time-consuming, but the files are retrievable. I think of my postal mail. I want my mail delivered to my mailbox, not to my state or even to my city. I’m special and I want my mail personalized to me. A bit different but related concept is model files, say a file for a particular model of pump. That’s easy to utilize, but honestly, even though two pumps may be the same model pump, each one has a different personality. One pump in its application has a problem with pipe strain whereas the same model pump in another place has a problem with cavitation. I’d like a different file for each (although I’m not “doc”matic about that).

About the Author: Doc Palmer

The key to filing is the equipment tag number. Use that number to label the files for each asset. Make a file the first time you work on it and put all the work orders with their feedback in the file. The plant should have tags hanging on the assets themselves.

CMMS and living job plans

Similarly, the CMMS has a module for living job plans. We don’t want to plan work orders as “one offs” hardly ever. Nearly always we should make a personalized “living” job plan for the individual asset when we plan the work order. Use the craft feedback to update the living plan so it is better the next time. The planner must link the living plan to the equipment tag number so we can find it. It does seem like extra work to make the living plan instead of planning right on the work order itself.

It takes an extra step and might seem to be a waste of precious planner time. But somehow right at about six months of making the living plans, most planners discover that almost every other time a new job comes up: “Hey. I already have a plan for that!” The extra time has paid off and now we start reaping the benefits of the Deming Cycle of continuous improvement. The CMMS usually has a hierarchy of assets numbers in its directory. Nonetheless, persons requesting work sometimes pick the wrong asset, so the best practice is to also have physical tags hanging on the assets themselves.

Personalize information for individual assets

Visualize a paper filing system in its usefulness for personalizing information for individual assets, and then make the most of your electronic CMMS with individual living plans. Then planners can go to work as craft historians who personalize information that we learn on individual assets, and use that learning to help give better head starts each time we work on them over the years. Run the Deming Cycle and grow with that learning. Don’t reinvent the wheel. Our multitude of great craftspersons has tremendous knowledge and wisdom. Planners help us collect and share that great information. The asset-specific saving of the information is the key.

Palmer's Planning Corner

This article is part of our monthly Palmer's Planning Corner column. Read more from Doc Palmer.

About the Author

Doc Palmer | PE, MBA, CMRP

Doc Palmer, PE, MBA, CMRP is the author of McGraw-Hill’s Maintenance Planning and Scheduling Handbook and as managing partner of Richard Palmer and Associates helps companies worldwide with planning and scheduling success. For more information including online help and currently scheduled public workshops, visit www.palmerplanning.com or email Doc at [email protected]. Also visit and subscribe to www.YouTube.com/@docpalmerplanning.

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