Polish Up Your Maintenance Planning

EP Editorial Staff | March 18, 2016

Industrial zone, Steel pipelines and cables in blue tones

FYI: Effective planning and scheduling can have a profound impact on a maintenance organization’s productivity and compliance, not to mention equipment reliability. Planned jobs require only half as much time to execute as unplanned jobs. A rule of thumb for maintenance is that each dollar invested in preparation saves 3 to 5 hours during work execution. What’s the situation with your organization?

Steve Mueller, director of commercial operations for the management consulting firm Daniel Penn Associates (DPA), Hartford, CT, says overcoming resistance to change, transitioning from a reactive to a proactive culture, and maintaining forward momentum are the biggest challenges that companies face when developing planning and scheduling programs. In a DPA Insights blog post (, he pointed to five “must do” items for dealing with those challenges and jump-starting a maintenance-planning process. His advice is timeless:

  • Communicate the benefits to all stakeholders upfront.
  • Appoint qualified people as planners and schedulers.
  • Install a robust computerized maintenance management system (CMMS).
  • Use metrics to manage the new processes and show results.
  • Frequently follow up with all stakeholders to reinforce the new behaviors.

Measuring success

How will you know if your efforts are successful? Mueller listed the following indicators:

  • The preventive maintenance (PM) program is on schedule.
  • Supervisors don’t need to do their own planning and scheduling because they follow the schedules for their shops.
  • Your customers have a single point of communication.
  • All work is on a work order.
  • No work orders are released before the work is ready to be executed.
  • Every worker starts each day with ready work.
  • All planned work has estimated hours, status code, and priority.
  • Weekly schedules by crew, date, individual, and job are used.
  • Work-order actual hours/work-order hours planned is 90% to 100% of capacity.
  • 100% of work is covered by a work order.
  • 100% of PM work orders are planned and scheduled.
  • Emergency work should comprise no more than 10% of labor hours.
  • You have the means to appropriately staff the organization by skill and workload demand. MT

Bring Out The Shine

What shines when maintenance resources are properly planned and scheduled? Plenty, according to Steve Mueller of Daniel Penn Associates:

  • Equipment reliability increases.
  • Maintenance stores are more available.
  • Costs drop.
  • Wait times are reduced.
  • Excess inventory goes away.
  • The information you use to make decisions is more reliable.

For more insight from Daniel Penn Associates’ management consultants and/or to read Steve Mueller’s complete blog post, “What’s Missing in Your Maintenance Organization,” visit



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