Maintenance Strategy: Work-Order Management

  July 23, 2013

Scheduling work orders causes significant pain and heartburn for most maintenance and engineering departments trying to escape the grasp of chaos and become world-class organizations. One third critical strategy to successful work-order scheduling is to never overschedule your maintenance team, writes Michael Cowley, CPMM, is president of CE Maintenance Solutions:

"Too many organizations believe if they overschedule technicians, they will get more done each week. The truth is completely the opposite. When you continually overschedule, customers think nothing is a high priority for the department. Nothing is more important than anything else, so workers just plod along, moving on to whatever they believe is the next most important assignment.

"The key to determining the appropriate level of scheduling is to take total available hours, subtract the normal amount of reactive work, and subtract the normal lost hours, such as personal time, vacation, and meetings. Planners then should schedule 95-100 percent of the remaining available hours.

"The difference between 95 percent and 100 percent depends on the complexity of the work. If the task is extremely complex and involves other work sources, such as contractors, perhaps schedule at 95 percent. If you are in total control of all work, then the percentage can edge toward 100 percent.

"No matter the amount of work scheduled, you should always have some work in your back pocket to fill gaps in the schedule. Fill-in work is defined as tasks technicians can stop and start easily without affecting the outcome.

"Once you succeed at regularly completing more than 95 percent of scheduled work, you can increase the total hours scheduled. On the opposite end of the spectrum, if schedule compliance drops below 85-90 percent, back off a little on the scheduled amount and identify the cause of the decrease. Once you figure it out, you can begin to increase the scheduled percentage.

"The keys to successful scheduling are setting goals, having a solid plan to begin scheduling work, and always having a method to measure your progress."


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