Top 5 Signs Your Maintenance Planning and Scheduling Isn’t Working

By Michael Cohen  -  Apr 26,   2018



A proper maintenance planning and scheduling enables asset-intensive organizations to prepare well, and effectively service their equipment. This enables them to carry out cost-effective maintenance at the scheduled times, hence improve their equipment performance and reduce incidences of emergency repairs and unplanned downtimes.


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In addition, it helps the organizations to deliver safe and conducive work environments with better productivity.

The planning enables the relevant teams to accurately determine the work details, components, skills, budget and time required to perform the service. It allows organizations to prepare well in advance before commencing the maintenance service. Consequently, we can say that an effective planning and scheduling ensures better maintenance, proper use of resources, and minimum interruption to normal productivity.

Despite the benefits of planning, some organizations do not get it right and will experience several unplanned downtimes. To know if you are on the right track, below are the top 5 signs your maintenance planning and scheduling isn’t working.

Frequent downtimes and emergencies

An effective maintenance planning and scheduling is a cost-effective way of improving equipment uptime and productivity. Although it is not possible to prevent unscheduled downtimes and sometimes reactive maintenance entirely, a high frequency of these incidences should be a concern. How often the emergencies occur is usually an indication of the status of the equipment, which by extension depends on maintenance.

A high frequency of emergency repairs or unplanned downtimes, beyond a reasonable or acceptable level, is a sign of poor maintenance practices and has a negative impact on productivity. The management should assess all the breakdowns, how often and why each happens and if the resulting emergency repairs are preventable. When the number of reactive repairs or services becomes unacceptable, there must be something wrong with the planning and scheduling of maintenance services.

One way of determining the effectiveness is by using the Planned Maintenance Percentage (PMP). This is the fraction of time a company spends on scheduled maintenance over the total time spent maintenance. It is the ratio of the number of maintenance hours a company had planned to spend, against the total number of hours it eventually spends on maintaining the equipment.

As such, the PMP includes both the planned and unplanned maintenance time. For example, if planned maintenance takes 70 hours out of a total of 100 hours, it means that the company performs unplanned or emergency maintenance work for 30% of the total time - which is high. Ideally, an organization should aim at achieving a PMP of at least 85%. 

Rewarding maintenance teams for resolving unplanned breakdown issues more often

Although rewarding employees is one way of boosting their morale, doing it more often after they perform reactive maintenance is a sign of poor planning and scheduling. Instead, the employees should be praised for carrying out effective preventive maintenance that reduces instances of preventable breakdowns and downtimes.

Every organization should aim at appreciating planned and predictable maintenance schedules which not only supports stable operations, but also reduces the number of emergencies and uncertainties. If you are rewarding employees to repair preventable failure, it is high time to re-evaluate your maintenance plans and schedules because this is one way of proofing that they are not working.

Ideally, a company performs better when they have preventive maintenance practices in place, as opposed to reactive maintenance that the staff members perform after a failure occurs. Using drone inspection services can be helpful in certain situations. 

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Maintenance taking too long, unavailable materials and expertise

With poor planning, it means that even the management or procurement does not know what is required, the parts that are used most, and skills required for certain equipment. People will start looking for tools, parts and maintenance requirements when equipment fails. This leads to longer downtimes as the maintenance teams wait for parts to be ordered and delivered. In addition, lack of relevant skills for the particular machine means that workers will take longer to figure out and fix the problem.

To address some emergency breakdowns, technicians may develop non-standard temporary fixes in order to get the equipment back to service as quickly as possible. Most often, the management may leave the equipment to work like this until the next breakdown. Without proper planning, chances are that there is also poor documentation. This means that even such a temporary fix will not be documented and the machine may continue running using improvised parts that degrade performance or cause more damage.

Inadequate planning and scheduling translate to frequent breakdowns that you are never ready to fix efficiently due to lack of parts, skills or both. Usually, the technicians will take too long to figure out how to service equipment or waiting for parts to arrive.

Disorganized maintenance and inconveniences

A properly planned maintenance should involve all stakeholders including staff in departments whose equipment is to be serviced. It should bring on board the operators, departments such as finance, procurement, stores, safety, and any other person who should participate or the downtime will affect.

In addition, the planners together with procurement, finance, and stores must ensure that there are enough parts, adequate labor and skills as well as proper scheduling. If there is a need for third-party providers, this should be organized in advance and their availability confirmed.

It is also important to pay attention to the workflow in the organization, and know where to start and who to involve. Poor planning will see a disorganized exercise where employees waste a lot of time either waiting for others to release equipment for the service or technicians waiting for parts to be ordered. Lack of parts can cause further delays, especially when it is realized at the last minute after the machine has been shut down and dismantled.

That is why documenting all required parts and previous services and repairs on the machine are important. This specifies most of the replaceable parts and frequency of replacing them, hence enabling relevant people to keep track of what has been done and what is remaining.

Without proper records, which is common when there is insufficient planning, the probability of a disorganized, inefficient and long maintenance period increases, and the management should re-assess how they are approaching the exercise.

Click to Download Oil and Gas Drone Inspection Sample Report

Regular overtime for maintenance staff

Every organization should have maintenance as part of the normal operations. Planned and scheduled to take place during normal working hours. This eliminates frequent cases of reactive maintenance when employees are called upon to provide services beyond their regular working hours. However, normal could mean different things such as during the night or weekends when it has little impact on the company operations. However, with proper planning, this could be done in a way that it aligns with the maintenance team’s regular working hours, instead of asking them to work extra hours.

With 24-hour economies, it is common for people to work in shifts, seven days a week, without employees working beyond their regular working hours. If a company has an effective maintenance planning and scheduling in place, employees will perform all their tasks during the regular working hours. This ensures that they perform maintenance, according to plan, but not as emergencies.

Not only does the overtime work affect the employees’ morale, especially when it interferes with their social and personal life, but can also become very expensive for the company. Overtimes are paid at higher rates. In addition to the regular pay, the extra hours are usually paid at one and half times, or twice the employee’s hourly rate. And since this is not usually planned for, it can affect the organization’s budget, expenses, and revenue

Frequent overtime work to perform maintenance or clear backlogs is a sign that the planning and scheduling are ineffective or non-existence and that it is time to make adjustments.