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How to Improve Maintenance with a Planner/Scheduler

Bill Mountjoy, CMRP & CDG VP of reliability engineering

As maintenance assumes an ever-increasing share of manufacturing conversion costs, for an enterprise to remain competitive, everyone involved needs to look for ways to improve maintenance and ensure that each dollar spent is worthwhile. One way to improve maintenance is to optimally schedule maintenance labor.

Of the many activities associated with maintenance, no other role has a more profound impact on the timely and effective accomplishment of maintenance work than that of the maintenance planner/scheduler. Far too often this critical role is underestimated, undervalued, and overlooked. Combined with a preventative / predictive maintenance strategy and efficient resource utilization (which is the basic goal of planning and scheduling), maintenance planner/schedulers deliver significant bottom line results. Without maintenance planner/schedulers, it’s impossible to minimize idle time, maximize profits, and properly manage the widely varying scope and diversity of activities performed by the maintenance function.

Effective Maintenance Planning/Scheduling

Having an effective maintenance planner/scheduler is critical because jobs must be done right the first time, in the shortest possible time and downtime, to keep equipment working properly to produce quality product for as long as possible. This provides maximum plant availability and maximum mean time between equipment failures at the least cost. A maintenance planner/scheduler is essential to achieving these objectives.

Qualifications & Selection Criteria

It can be difficult to find the right person with the unique skill set to perform the required tasks. This position is not a clerical or admin job. To effectively plan jobs, this role requires strong technical competency, very good communication and organizational skills, and computer literacy to manage the CMMS. Recommended qualifications follow:

  1. Engineering Degree or Technical School Training
  2. Working Experience / Knowledge of Mechanical & Electrical Systems
  3. Adequate Craft Knowledge for Estimating Man Hours and Materials to Properly Plan Jobs
  4. Good Oral / Written Communication Skills and Tact to Negotiate Maintenance Needs in Balance with Other Departmental Requirements
  5. Good Administrative and Mathematical Skills with Capability to Manage Large Data Flows in Various Formats
  6. Working Knowledge of Personal Computers & Relational Databases
  7. Good Organizational and Coordination Skills with the Ability to Keep Multiple Jobs in Simultaneous / Controlled Motion
  8. Ability to Understand What Constitutes Good Maintenance Job Instructions
  9. Skills to Read Blueprints, Shop Drawings, and P&IDs
  10. Understanding the Work Order Process Flow along with Priorities, Scheduling, Etc.
  11. Commitment to Customer Service
  12. Style and the Capability of Commanding Respect within both the Maintenance and Operating Organizations

Profitable Benefits

The objective of job planning is to allow maintenance craftsmen to be prepared for and complete each job without encountering time-wasting delays (parts, equipment availability, tools, lockout tagout procedures, etc.), and to ensure jobs are safely performed to the satisfaction of the requester at minimal cost. Each hour of effective planning typically returns three hours in mechanic time saved and an even greater savings measured in reduced production downtime. Therefore, every dollar invested in planning delivers three to ten dollars to the bottom line, creating a great ROI!


For more information or support to determine if your maintenance planning and scheduling function is effectively delivering the potential benefits to your operation, select the following button:

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