8+ ways that Planning and Scheduling Fails to Deliver Culture

Most organizations unfortunately suffer with a reactive environment over a proactive reliability centered one. I recently reviewed a survey where people were asked to provide topics for an upcoming webinar. One of the responses stated that the individual wanted to create a Planning culture to eliminate a reactive one. Is this possible?

Reality is that Maintenance Planning and Scheduling are simply tools that fall within the Maintenance Best Practices. The focus of Planning and Scheduling is to drive efficiency of the crafts people and eliminate the avoidable delays. By itself, I argue that Planning and Scheduling will not fix a reactive culture. Cultures that are reactive are based on many things such as

1. Ineffective PM programs with no basis for the tasks
2. Lack of precision in corrective and time-based tasks
3. Improper organizational structures
4. Lack of internal and external partnerships
5. Behaviors of the people
6. Management philosophies
7. Poor capital project design and execution
8. No focus on Defect Elimination
9. …

What others would you add to the list? Do you agree that Planning and Schedule by itself cannot drive a proactive reliability centered culture?

To your success, Jeff

Digging for Gold?

Maintenance PlannerSadly for some organizations, their maintenance and operations practices are not much different than the small bands of gold miners going for broke in the Alaskan wilderness as reflected on the television shows.  Operating on s shoestring budget, they try to bootstrap their way along, experiencing increased losses from a run to failure mentality.  While run to failure can be a strategy for some equipment, it shouldn’t be for all of your assets, especially the critical ones.  Proactive organizations learned a long time ago that you can’t typically sustain your business with that approach.

Looking the gold miners, they begin the season by pulling in their heavy equipment and setting up shop on tract of land or claim..  Little is done from condition monitoring perspective to anticipate impending failures. There are no written procedures.  Training occurs from the perspective of tribal knowledge, if someone in the tribe has that knowledge for starters.  In the quest to meet the production numbers, operators push the equipment to its limit. When critical assets fail such as the separation equipment, the operation grinds to a halt. Bootstrapping along the way from a cash perspective, they have few if any spare parts on site.  The nearest spare parts are days away.  This holds true for even benign parts like belts and bearings.  Once the operation restarts, the pressure is on to make up for lost numbers.  When the season ends, they pull back the equipment. Little is done from a time based scheduled restoration perspective to prepare for next season.  They set themselves up for the cycle to repeat, the cycle of despair and reactivity.

Contrast those concepts to your organization and its approach to maintenance and reliability.  Are you operating with an overall run to failure mentality?  If so, use education about the Maintenance Best Practices to help your organization gain a competitive advantage. What else could you do to drive the culture change necessary to gain a proactive reliability based approach?




Give Me 30 Minutes – the Weekly Scheduling Meeting

When it comes to the weekly Maintenance Scheduling meeting, I generally see two separate spectrums.  The first is no meeting or no attendees, and ultimately, no real schedule.  On the opposite end, I see the long drawn out review of the entire backlog, most of which we don’t have materials for or resources to do in the current week. That might be OK if you have very little backlog.  Most don’t.  I believe you would agree that we spend way too much time in meetings reviewing the same items week after week.

For effective scheduling meetings there are three primary components which are process, partnerships, and discipline.  From a process perspective, the Planner Schedulers working together in advance to draft the schedule, email it early in the week to the other partners, and coordinate priorities prior to the weekly scheduling meeting.  To be effective, there must be a partnership among the stakeholders to provide timely responses to changes to the draft before the meeting. The Planner Schedulers should run the scheduling meeting and use an agenda to keep everyone focused.  The discipline comes in sticking to the process and everyone enforcing the mutual partnership.

From a timing perspective, I believe you can strive for the first 15 minutes of the meeting being utilized to confirm the prioritized work schedule for next week. There should only be one schedule, not one for each craft. Follow that with 15 minutes to share last week’s metrics and to discuss any schedule breaks. Work to limit the weekly scheduling meeting to 30 minutes in total.

Is this an achievable goal in your organization?  What do you see as barriers?



Busting out of our Silo

Maintenance Planning and SchedulingFrom a maintenance perspective, are you scheduling Operations and other support functions?
In many organizations, I find that people are not utilizing the CMMS/EAM to the fullest extent with respect to “crafts” when it comes to coordinating work. You will probably tell me, “Jeff, no surprise there”. It doesn’t have to be this way.

Let me explain what I mean. When I look at schedules for maintenance work, rarely do I see crafts listed other than those from the maintenance organization. Let’s take a job like welding on a product tank in a food plant as an example. We need Operations personnel to empty and clean the tank in advance of the welding work. Once the welding work is complete, we may need Operations to clean and sanitize the vessel. Following on, Quality Services or lab personnel may be required to swap the tank for microbial contamination and release it for refill with product. These are all coordination activities that we want to cover with child work orders as an example. In addition, should we not coordinate these activities from a scheduling perspective?

The bottom line is that just like we have crafts such as pipefitter, mechanic, or electrician, we should also have operator, lab tech, or other support functions identified in the CMMS. The work of those individuals and the required coordination of those activities should appear on the weekly schedule with the work order numbers/ work descriptions. When we are in next week’s scheduling meeting, we can set the expectation with Operations and our other partners that we will be needing assistance with equipment availability, possibly help with the maintenance tasks themselves, and the restart of that equipment. Approaching our maintenance tasks and their coordination from a more holistic inclusive viewpoint helps us build better partnerships with the other stakeholders.

Check your schedule and your approach. Are you doing this?

Speak soon,

Video on the Goals of Maintenance Planning

From the People and Processes Youtube channel, I have embedded this video on Maintenance Planning


20 Thoughts on Maintenance Planner Scheduler Tasks

The Maintenance Planning and Scheduling function has four basic objectives:

  • To provide the right information for the technician to more easily to perform the job
  • Have identified the right parts and materials, having them staged and kitted
  • Interface with the Operations partner to ensure the equipment is available for Maintenance at the specified time
  • To ensure the right priority Maintenance work is accomplished based on business needs

In the end, the function is all about doing the right work while addressing avoidable delays i.e. driving technician wrench time up.  To do this, there are a number of tasks that the Planner Scheduler performs.

  • Avoids getting involved with this week’s emergency work as planning must be focused on the future
  • Reviews work orders requiring planning to understand the requested work
  • Evaluates and understands planned work priorities
  • Job scoping/ research – spends 1/3 of the day in the field
  • Prepares job plans based on level of detail required
  • Maintains a job plan library for reuse
  • Identifies and requisitions/ reserves parts and materials
  • Prepares the job package
  • Interfaces with the Operations group to validate work priority and equipment availability
  • Collaborates with Maintenance Supervisors on next week’s available labor hours to build the weekly schedule from
  • Develops the next week’s maintenance schedule based on priority
  • Provides a level of coordination in the planning and scheduling phases, not during the execution of the work which the responsibility of maintenance supervision
  • Leads the weekly maintenance scheduling meeting
  • Ensures the preventive maintenance program is scheduled and work-leveled
  • Maintains the asset hierarchy if so required
  • Develops and improving the asset bill of materials
  • Reports on the Key performance indicators (KPI) if required
  • Performs other administration tasks of the CMMS/ EAM if required
  • Reviews completed job feedback to improve job plan content and estimates
  •  Integrates key words on work order closure to assist the data mining for reliability engineering purposes

Are these tasks what you expect for the Maintenance Planner Scheduler?  Would you take any away and why? What others would you add and why?


Jeff Shiver

Calculating Schedule Compliance

Maintenance Planning and SchedulingAt what frequency do you calculate the schedule compliance metric? Is it weekly, daily, or hourly?  Depending on who you ask, you might come up with a different answer.  For me, it depends on several factors.  The first one is the level of Maintenance organization reactivity.  That is followed by how long the organization has been producing next week’s schedule.  It might surprise you but a number of organizations still don’t produce a formal schedule for next week.  Another factor is the partnership between Maintenance and Operations.  It can also depend on whether you are using a “bucket” approach to next week’s schedule or have lined out each day and hour the week prior as part of your scheduling approach. Another is how much of the available labor hours are you scheduling.  Some organizations only schedule 50% of their available labor due to reactive levels. There are others as well.

Consider what we are trying to address first.  We really want to produce a schedule and understand how well we are doing in meeting the schedule.  While it’s OK to break the schedule for real emergencies to drive productivity, we need to understand why the schedule breaks are required and eliminate those hopefully from reoccurring. We are striving to complete all of the scheduled work during the course of the week. To accomplish this, we use the Schedule Compliance metric.  From a continuous improvement perspective, I’m OK starting out calculating the metric by week provided the schedule contains corrective actions and preventive maintenance tasks. Yes, I see some organizations that either produce no schedule or a schedule with PM’s only. If we are consistently getting metric results by week of 60-70% or higher, I move to calculating by day and begin to push for to improve those daily numbers. This also assumes we are scheduling 100% of the available hours too. There might be a need for calculating Schedule Compliance by day sooner or even by hour potentially in the case of shutdowns or outages.  That said, when managing shutdowns and outages; the focus is not looking backward but looking ahead for critical path items and such.

Remember the goal is continuous improvement. What are your thoughts?

Cheers, Jeff Shiver

A Plague Lurks Just Around the Corner

Maintenance Planning and SchedulingI was recently conducting a Maintenance Planning and Scheduling course onsite.  As with all of the classes that I facilitate, I make an effort to learn about those in attendance on a more personal level.  This class was no different and shortly, I learned about the work history of several people.  One had been there for 44 years, another for 37, and a third for 31 years. The guy who had been there for 44 years was 70 years old and because of his in-depth knowledge, they were asking him to stay around a few more years.  It’s not out of financial need that he stays but a sense of duty and loyalty.

In Maintenance Planning and Scheduling courses, we always talk about the Job Plan and its use in developing precision maintenance procedures.  In the case of these veterans, the Job Plan also serves as a tool to capture their knowledge for use as a training tool later.  All too often, I see this concept ignored.  With many of the organizations that I visit, I often find the average age of the workforce at 57 years and beyond.  Without tools like the Job Plan, how can we expect to capture that knowledge prior to those individuals leaving?  How will you train those who will be needed to fill the veterans shoes?  How many of you are using the Job Plan to capture that knowledge?

Cheers, Jeff Shiver

P.S. Want to learn more about Maintenance Planning and Scheduling?  Here are some upcoming public courses that I will be facilitating in Atlanta and Chicago.

The Maintenance Job Plan Outline

If you are like many Maintenance Planners that I have the opportunity to interface with, most aren’t doing much using the job plan concept.  The intent of the job plan is to better enable the craftspeople to execute their job with the materials, tools, and information in hand.  Ideally, you really want a template to facilitate the development of these job plans.  Recently, I did a webinar for Emaint which is a CMMS vendor on creating job plans.  You can view it here. What should some of the headers be for a job plan template? Here’s an outline that you may want to start with.

  • Asset number
  • Asset name
  • Crafts required
  • Estimated hours per craft
  • Total job duration (to be able to tell our Operations partners how long we need the equipment)
  • Safety considerations
  • Tasks and sequence
  • Materials and Parts (Stock or purchased)
  • Consumables (i.e. shop towels, penetrating lubricant spray)
  • Tools and equipment (i.e. 2” impact socket, grease gun, 40’ man-lift)
  • Housekeeping and/ or disposal
  • Revision history

Most of these outline items can be used regardless of whether it’s a PM or Corrective Action job plan. Is there anything else you would add?

Cheers, Jeff Shiver

Does the Good Doctor fly Blind?

Maintenance Planning and SchedulingWhy should we bother with this job plan thing anyway, after all the Technicians know what to do, right? If you were undergoing surgery, in addition to the proper training; you would expect a surgical team to have a set of procedures and checklists to perform their work on you. What if they started operating out of sequence before you were fully sedated? What if they left some of their tools or sponges behind when they closed you up? I hear you saying “But Jeff, we aren’t dealing with life or death when we work on equipment!” When you consider the environmental and safety consequences of the equipment that we work on, that may not be the case. I would guess that many of the people involved with some of the life ending and environmental disasters in recent memory never expected things to end the way they did either.

The bottom line is that the job plan can help bring precision to our maintenance work with specifications like tolerances, gaps, fits, torque and so on.. They serve to provide checklists and sequential steps. The plans can be used as training tools when we capture the knowledge before people retire which is a ever more frequent occurrence. The effective job plan can save the technicians from spending hours searching for information or materials. It can also prevent accidents by providing concise lock out and tag out information along with the necessary PPE and required permits. One of the best parts to job plans is that they are reusable as much of our work is repeatable.

What other reasons do you have for creating and maintaining job plans? Are you successful with them? If not, why not?