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Maintenance work planning progresses from minimum plans to overall plans

Maintenance work planning progressesCareful advance planning is useful in any job, as it makes the actual work faster and easier. Industrial maintenance work planning offers even more to be gained, as maintenance has a very broad impact on the company’s production and overall business. The threshold should not be set too high, but it is recommended to aim for a long-term and continuous development of work planning in realistic steps.

Maintenance work planning – what and why?

In a nutshell, maintenance work planning means ensuring in advance the necessary conditions for the successful and efficient performance of maintenance work. By planning in advance what will be done, who will do it, when it will be done and what tools and spare parts are needed, it is much easier to do the job efficiently, comprehensively and right first time.

Depending on the organization and its sector, maintenance work planning can cover a wide range of areas and phases, but in most cases, it will at least cover the phasing, resourcing, materials, budgeting, prioritization and scheduling of maintenance work.

An important part of the work is also the recording of actions taken, which not only serves as documentation of the past, but also as a basis for the future – for continuous iteration and improvement.

There are many good reasons for planning ahead for maintenance work, and in many industries, it is also required by law and regulation. For example, in nuclear power plants, the pharmaceutical industry and the food industry, regular, proactive maintenance activities play a key role in ensuring the quality and safety of operations. Many other sectors also have to comply with at least equipment-specific regulations relating to, for example, lifting equipment, lifts and fire safety equipment.

Another important motivator for maintenance work planning is the economic benefit, as corrective fault repair is more expensive than proactive measures for many reasons. Firstly, failures are often associated with unplanned downtime in production, which leads to significant costs. Secondly, planned maintenance allows the necessary manpower to be booked in advance, saving on overtime costs or external emergency help, among others. Thirdly, spare parts can be procured well in advance and, if necessary, there is time to arrange bidding. In corrective maintenance, the spare parts needed are too often purchased in overpriced rush deliveries from where they can be obtained fastest.

A less frequently mentioned but still important benefit of maintenance work planning is work satisfaction and minimizing unnecessary pressure. It’s good to be aware that corrective maintenance also has to consider the same things as proactive maintenance, but in a much more acute way. When an operation is unplanned at an inopportune and unexpected moment, it is also often carried out by a person who is not the most knowledgeable. This also increases the stress of the situation and the risk of mistakes.

Starting with a low threshold

In many companies, the threshold to start planning maintenance work at is high because the task seems huge and laborious at first. Today’s maintenance staff have a broad job description, and equipment has evolved and become more complex over time. There are a lot of things to consider in maintenance work, and it also involves a wide range of responsibilities, such as safety at work and environmental issues.

For exactly the same reasons, all ways to facilitate maintenance work, including work planning, are worth investing in. With the right-sized steps, you can get started with very small actions in your daily work.

A few tips for starting maintenance planning:

  • Minimum plans. There is no need to record and plan all your company’s maintenance at once. You can start small by writing down the key points of, say, a single task: what was done, when was it done, why was it done, how did it go and how could it be improved next time? Over time, the big picture is built up from many smaller pieces. 
  • A work-bank. As part of your maintenance planning, you should build up a “work-bank” of pre-planned maintenance tasks, for example, for a few weeks ahead. When the work is planned in advance and the necessary spare parts are available, the list can be used more flexibly to pick out the right work for the situation, for example, in case of changes. For instance, in the event of a failure, the same downtime can also be used to carry out other pre-planned maintenance activities. 
  • Consistent hourly records and feedback from maintenance staff. Without documenting the work done and identifying the root causes of failures, continuous improvement and forward planning is very difficult. If there is no feedback, you don’t know what is happening, and the indicators don’t reflect the reality. With a consistent feedback loop and a record of all hours, monitoring becomes dependable, opportunities for improvement can be identified, and work can be better planned in advance. 
  • Continuous improvement. Work planning can start by describing the current situation and approaching the process by continuous iteration and improvement. The information accumulates and the process is refined over time.

Read more:

Blog: Measuring maintenance work planning enables you to see the performed work and the work that still needs to be done
Blog: Maintenance metrics as a tool for knowledge-based management
Novi by Pinja - Maintenance system designed for users

Tapsa Nylander

Tapsa Nylander

I work at Pinja as a Customer Manager and maintenance expert. As a project manager, I am responsible for the deliveries of the Novi maintenance system and maintenance consulting. My free time is spend with children’s music hobbies and books.

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