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The Importance of a Planner/Scheduler

Ruth Hughes, CMRP & CDG Founder & CEO

Imagine driving through an intersection that doesn’t have a stoplight, attending a symphony without a conductor, going to a class that doesn’t have a teacher, attending a football game with coachless teams, or going to a manufacturing plant that doesn’t have a maintenance planner/scheduler (MPS). Huh? Wait, what’s an MPS?

Typically, an MPS works in the maintenance department of a manufacturing plant and plans and schedules maintenance activities (jobs) for maintenance craftsmen. (Maintenance activities are performed to prevent downtime and to keep equipment running and running well.) When jobs are properly planned and scheduled, maintenance craftsmen are teed up for success and efficiently complete their jobs without delays such as unavailable:

  • Parts
  • Equipment
  • Tools

MPSs ensure that each job has a scheduled start and finish date, a priority, clear and concise instructions, and that jobs are safely performed to the satisfaction of the requester, all at a minimal cost. Sounds like having an MPS is a no-brainer, right? Wrong! Most plants don’t have an MPS because they don’t understand their importance.

Everyone understands the importance of a stoplight, conductor, teacher, and coach, but not everyone understands the importance of an MPS. Just like a stoplight, conductor, teacher, coach, an MPS manages, controls, and / or coordinates activities. Additionally, they help minimize equipment downtime, optimize employee utilization, eliminate part and tool searches, and ensure that equipment is available.

If a stoplight doesn’t work, it’s backup mechanism kicks in and it blinks a red light and is treated like a stop sign. If someone is not doing their job well, the following results:

  • Conductor: The symphony is a disappointment and there may be a loss of future ticket sales.
  • Teacher: There is chaos in the classroom and the loss is that kids don’t learn as much as they should.
  • Coach: The team loses and fans are disappointed.

If a plant doesn’t have an MPS or the MPS isn’t doing his/her job well, it can result in the following:

  • Equipment Downtime
  • Underutilized Maintenance Craftsmen
  • Lost Time Searching for Parts & Tools
  • Unavailable Equipment

Now, let’s assign a cost to equipment downtime.

Equipment Downtime

This assumes the following for a typical plant that runs 24 / 5:

  • Average Amount of Downtime (caused by not having available parts and tools): 2.5 Hours / Day
  • Estimated Cost of Downtime: $500 / Hour

(2.5 Hours / Day) x (260 Days / Year) x ($500 / Hour) = $325,000 / Year

Not only will an MPS help eliminate the $325,000 cost of equipment downtime with pre-identified / pre-kitted parts and spare parts lists, s/he will also help maximize employee utilization, minimize the time spent searching for parts / tools, and ensure that equipment is available before assigning work to it. How can manufacturing plants not afford to have an MPS with a savings of $325,000 / Year plus significant efficiency gains?

When stoplights, conductors, teachers, coaches, and MPSs do their jobs well, the end results are efficient traffic patterns, beautiful music, well-educated / happy students, and efficient manufacturing plants with maximized profits and happy employees.

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