I often help institutional and commercial facilities try to change existing maintenance cultures from chaos and reactive work to best in class by using more planning, scheduling and preventive work. One of the first questions to come up in this process is, how do we get started?
Maintenance and engineering managers are working as hard as they can while using all the resources they have and consuming large amounts of overtime in the process. But rarely do they see any change in the workload.
We will never totally eliminate reactive or emergency work, so the key is to minimize it. In the manufacturing world, where most of the work is confined to a plant or a couple plants on the same campus, the long-term goal for the amount of reactive work should be 10-15 percent of the total workload. In facilities, which have larger campus environments or considerable amounts of windshield time traveling between locations, the percentage of reactive work easily can reach 25-30 percent of total available manpower.
One solution to getting started on the move from total chaos to a best in class is to establish dedicated reactive or emergency maintenance crews. Their only function is to handle the unplanned chaos that is part of a facility's daily and weekly workload.
Many organizations allow all technicians or teams of technicians to handle reactive work when it arises. This strategy is fine, but it also can cause a higher level of chaos because a particular group of technicians might not be prepared for a call when it comes in, and responding might require them to drop a scheduled, or in some cases, a more important work order. Dropping other work also can cause the reactive job to take longer, and it definitely can cause the dropped or delayed job to take longer to complete than originally scheduled. It also might affect the overall quality of the finished product.
The key to success in reactive maintenance is to make sure technicians are prepared to complete the work with the right tools, parts, training and transportation. Managers shouldn't breeze over this part too quickly. Sit down with the team and talk about tools. Do they have cordless drills, electrical test equipment, ladders, etc.? Does the department have an organized parts room with the necessary parts? Are the parts staged in the proper places to make repairs faster?
Embracing (and Minimizing) a Reactive Maintenance Management Plan
Allow for Travel Time When Responding to a Preventive Maintenance Issue
Good Organization Skills Important for Successful Reactive Maintenance Program