Maintenance Planning and Scheduling: the Key to Reliability Excellence®

In concept and function, maintenance planning and scheduling is like a key that can unlock Reliability Excellence® and its benefits. It’s an apt comparison because a key is a pretty useless piece of material without all the interfaces that make it functional.

To fulfill its purpose, a key requires a lock cylinder, with the correct pins to match the curves of the key. Should any pin be non-functional, the key will not be able to operate the lockset cylinder, keeping the lock closed. Only when the key and the pins are in very close alignment, depending on the quality of manufacturing and price, will the lockset be able to fulfill its purpose of security.

The position of Maintenance Planner/Scheduler (P/S) is rather like a key. The P/S will interface with the equivalent of the lock cylinder -- many different areas within the organization. For the P/S key to allow the lock cylinder of the organization to turn and operate functionally, the pins of the entities the P/S interfaces with must be aligned with the cuts in the P/S key.

Lock Pin #1 – Operators

One system pin that the P/S is critically linked to is the operational area that he supports. That lock cylinder pin must be well within the tolerances allowable for that pin to match well with the applicable cut location in the key. This requires open and honest communication, complete partnership, focus on the overall reliability of the equipment, and attention to detail in the proper operation of the equipment. These processes are usually developed by a cross-functional group that concentrates on operator care attributes.

The ‘key personnel’ in the Operations areas are the Operators. A good, experienced Operator is a living, breathing, data-acquisition machine. An experienced Operator can detect an anomaly when the equipment operates in an unfamiliar way. A deviation in sound, an unusual smell, a different sense of vibration, a faint increase in temperature on a specific point on the equipment are all telltale indicators for experienced Operators. This is when the work notification or work request needs to be entered into the data system so that an impending problem can be resolved in a timely and controlled manner to avoid a costly period of unexpected downtime.

This bit of information from the Operator, in the form of a work notification or work request, is just the beginning of the opening of the Reliability Excellence lock. The partnership between the P/S personnel and the Operations personnel is instrumental in maintaining the close tolerances of that one pin in the lock cylinder.

Lock Pin #2 – Materials Management

The next pin that must have a close tolerance with the key cut of P/S is the Materials Management pin. The Materials Management and Work Management functions together support a joined-at-the-hip partnership between the Storeroom and P/S functions. The best P/S effort will be a dismal failure without a close partnership with a well-developed storeroom and a storeroom efficiency of 95% or better. The P/S will take the approved work notification and turn it into a verified work order to be planned, scheduled and executed in a quality manner at a future date, in a controlled fashion by capable and competent Craft personnel. The Craft personnel now have time to complete the quality repair of the equipment, enabled by the P/S scheduling the pertinent materials to be kitted and delivered to a convenient place in relation to the work site. A well-managed and effective storeroom will have the material on hand or readily available through the Purchasing function, in cooperation with a partnership vendor. The stock item identifiers will show the equipment the specific parts are utilized on or in, the maximum and minimum, the quantity available, and the lead and delivery time. The P/S will be notified when the job kit is complete and ready to be scheduled.

A highly functional storeroom requires a close partnership between the P/S function and the Stores personnel. The intense communication between these partners includes questions like these: Is this a new item required for storeroom stocking? Has there been a change in the ‘fit, form or function’ of a specific piece of equipment? Will the store’s inventory need to be modified?

Lock Pin #3 – Reliability Engineering

The next pin in the lock – Reliability Engineering – is often overlooked. They are the people that work continuously to improve reliability of the equipment. In many cases, this requires accurate data returned as history on the work order completed by the qualified craft personnel. This data includes the “as found” and “as left” states and any observations that may provide good forensic data for the Reliability Engineer. This helps him to develop an engineered solution to the lack of expected reliability in specific equipment included on the “Bad Actor” listing.

Lock Pin #4 – Management of Change

The Management of Change function is another critical pin for the cut in the Planning and Scheduling key. If the planned repair consists of replacement in kind of parts and pieces, then the function is straightforward. If there is any change in ‘fit, form or function’, meaning a change in the materials that compose the replacement parts, the specific performance specifications, the torque, the clearances, or any other characteristic, then the P/S must work with the Operations function, the Maintenance function, the Reliability Engineering function and the Storeroom. This is to ensure the newly required spare parts and newly required storeroom stock inventories are correct. The Reliability Engineering interface ensures that the applicable drawings are revised to identify the current state and to ensure the incorrect materials are not available to be erroneously installed at some later date.

Lock Pin #5 – Work Management

Then we have the pin of the Work Management function, another cross-functional group of people that understand the intricacies of pursuing Reliability Excellence. This group designs the processes that directly affect P/S and that identifies the touch points within processes developed by the various functions: Materials, Management, Operator Care, Reliability Engineering, and Management of Change.

Like the key in the lock cylinder, the Maintenance Planning and Scheduling function is the mechanism that allows several critical functions to operate smoothly. The Planner/Scheduler is a central point of communication and a pivotal point that brings diverse functions together to support the overall success of the entire organization.

© Life Cycle Engineering

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