Posted under Blog by Mike Davey - Content Marketing Specialist
Your organization’s maintenance plan must consider both the assets you’re maintaining and the people who will do the work. Maintenance scheduling that ignores one or the other of these factors is obviously doomed to failure. You must have equipment up and running to achieve the right amount of production. You must have staff available to complete the necessary work.
The challenge of maintenance scheduling can be viewed from either perspective. An asset-based approach looks at the equipment first and tries to maximize the uptime for each resource. The other side of the coin is a resource-based approach, where the goal is to ensure that all maintenance personnel are fully utilized.
Planning and scheduling your maintenance operations can be a challenge, no matter which perspective you’re using. Make sure to check out “4 Tips for Better Maintenance Scheduling” for quick advice on getting the most out of your scheduling activities. For a more in-depth treatment of the most effective ways to plot your maintenance schedule, please see our white paper, “Are Your Planning and Scheduling Processes Using Best Practices?”
The central goal of resource-based scheduling is to make sure everyone on the maintenance team is working to their highest capacity. That’s a laudable goal on its surface. What do we find if we look deeper?
Remember, the overriding mantra of resource-based maintenance scheduling is to get the maximum amount of work out of the resources available. Other considerations are secondary. This type of plan essentially consists in making sure that each member of the maintenance staff is working as much as possible, day in and day out.
According to Doc Palmer’s “Maintenance Planning and Scheduling Handbook,” the absolute maximum maintenance time for a single craftsperson is 6.5 to 7 hours, assuming an 8-hour workday. That’s the maximum time, assuming everything is properly planned and scheduled. Without planning and scheduling, Doc Palmer’s studies show that you tend to get somewhere between two and three hours of wrench time per technician per day.
It’s easy to understand why this point of view is seductive for professional schedulers. Idle workers are non-productive by definition. Management may already be looking at maintenance as a necessary evil rather than an operation that helps to boost the bottom line. Having idle craftspeople standing around is going to just give them more ammunition.
However, you’ll find it very difficult to make a business case for simply keeping maintenance people busy. At no point in history has a CEO addressed a stockholder’s meeting and received a round of applause for showing just how busy the folks in the maintenance department have been in the last quarter.
Similarly, there are very few maintenance professionals who just care about keeping their crews busy. The real reason we want to avoid idle craftspeople is much more sensible. There’s a lot of work to do and a limited amount of time in which to get it done. The crew is responsible for maintaining assets that are vital to production and there will be delays and cost overruns if those assets go down.
In other words, we’ve just come full circle, back to asset-based maintenance!
It’s important to keep your people working, but that’s only because there is a lot on their plates (and yours). It shouldn’t be the overriding goal of your maintenance planning and scheduling activities.
When it comes to ensuring maximum asset utilization, it’s more important to ask, “What do we need to do to ensure our assets perform optimally?” than to ask, “How do we keep our craftspeople busy?”
Resource-based scheduling can be a classic case of putting the cart before the horse. Rather than looking at what’s needed, it only considers what’s available.
It may be true in your organization that you do not have what you need and must do the best you can with existing resources. It can be very stressful when management won’t give you what you need to do the job properly.
Maybe your maintenance team really does need more staff. The best way to prove this to management is to build a business case and the most convincing way to do this is to show them an asset-based maintenance plan. Since the plan you’ll show them places asset uptime at the very centre of maintenance operations, it should be simple to demonstrate that more staff are needed to keep those assets running at optimal production. Proving that expanding the workforce will save the company money means the battle is already won.
Determining what’s really important is the foundation of asset-based scheduling. Start by going right to the root and asking yourself questions like “What assets are most critical to maintaining production?” and “What preventive maintenance do those assets need to ensure optimal performance?”
This will lead you to the next stage: deciding if a particular maintenance operation is truly critical or if it can wait. Anything that interferes with production can be deemed critical. Categorizing assets by their importance to production allows planners and schedulers to better direct maintenance for the greatest overall benefit. This viewpoint will also help you to identify challenges that may disrupt your maintenance schedule. For more on this, check out our white paper “Asset Criticality – not just a Reliability Tool.”
Resource-based scheduling means your maintenance crew is fully utilized. Asset-based scheduling means your assets are properly maintained and contributing to the overall bottom line. We’d all like to have both, but if you had to pick just one … which one would you choose?