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Maintenance Planning and Scheduling: The key to unlocking value from your Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) program

When it comes to extracting value from your EAM processes, the determining factor in whether your organization is efficient and cost-effective, or unproductive with cost and out-of-control, often rests with the maintenance planning and scheduling functions. 

If you are a utility, energy, or industrial leader responsible for the operational and financial performance of your organization, ask yourself these questions:

  • Are your Operating & Maintenance (O&M) costs increasing or getting out of control?
  • Do you know the condition of your company’s most critical assets?
  • Do you fully understand your compliance risks and the potential liability surrounding the condition of those assets?
  • Are you confident that your EAM program is reducing costs and improving performance? Or, are you doing what you are doing today because it’s what you have always done? 

Reflect on your answers, and now, imagine something different. Imagine for the first time that you have complete visibility into the condition of your most critical assets, as well as where and when a potential problem may occur before it happens. Imagine consistently improving financial performance and improving asset reliability. Imagine reducing risks and compliance liability from your operations while improving your reputation with regulators and stakeholders. Imagine that your workforce and physical assets are being optimized and utilized to their fullest potential. 

For many companies, this is wishful thinking. But for those who are serious about making meaningful and positive changes, look to your planning and scheduling process.  

It is important to understand what work planning and work scheduling mean when talking about EAM optimization. 

  • Work Planning is the process of determining what activities must be accomplished to complete a specific maintenance job. By planning each job, potential risks and delays can be avoided.
  • Work Scheduling is the process of determining what jobs get prioritized, what resources will do them, and when they will be accomplished. By scheduling each job, you become pro-active and not reactive. 

Many organizations act in a constant state of reactive work, moving from one breakdown to the next. A sobering statistic is that only 35% of a maintenance technician’s time is spent actually doing maintenance work. For every person working an 8-hour day, they are accomplishing less than 3 hours of actual work. The other 65% of their time is unproductive, and as much as 45% of this unproductive time is due to poor coordination and idleness.  

Imagine that you have 100 highly skilled workers making $75,000 per year. You have a payroll of 7.5 million dollars. Now think about $4.8 million being lost each year due to poor productivity. This is a simple example, but with the discipline of proper planning and scheduling in place, those numbers can be dramatically reduced or even reversed. Your dedication to appropriate planning and scheduling can make or break your financial performance.

So, for leaders looking for ways to improve productivity and performance, study your planning and scheduling metrics, and consider:

  • What is your schedule attainment?
  • What is your percentage of emergent work vs. planned work?
  • How many hours of work to you have in the maintenance backlog?  
  • Is more work being added to the backlog than what is completed each month?

With proper work planning and scheduling, the ideal situation is that you are completing the right job at the right time by the right people. By focusing on and implementing planning and scheduling best practices, your organization can unlock tremendous value.

And to all those leaders out there looking to improve productivity and performance, start by taking your planner and scheduler out to lunch!