Why Asset Maintenance Job Planning Fails and How to Prevent It

By Michael Cohen  -  Oct 11,   2017



The asset-intensive companies must put in place effective maintenance plans and schedules to avoid expensive shutdowns or costly repairs. This delivers a safe and efficient work environment, increased productivity, accurate budget forecasting, and other benefits.

Organizations perform poor maintenance jobs when there is lack of a number of things. These include lack of proper planning, poor leadership, and lack of cooperation, training, or resources. Low morale due to employee’s frustration is another cause. The poor planning decreases the productivity as cases of unplanned or unscheduled repair work increases.

Oil refineries line a river in Yokkaichi, Japan. The city has been a center for the chemical industry since the 1930's.-1.jpeg

Important factors to consider when planning for a maintenance job

An organization should have a dedicated maintenance planner to perform roles such as proper planning, prioritizing, and reporting as necessary. However, a successful maintenance plan requires a lot of work. And work overload affects the performance of the planners in a way that it negatively impacts on the work execution.

Failure to consider everything often leads to challenges when implementing the plan. This arises due to lack of integrity of the maintenance plan, missed details, inefficient and poor job execution. Consequently, there are poor maintenance processes and an increase in the number of equipment failures.

A perfect process and job plan is not enough if the manager fails to pay attention to factors such as

  • Availability of the correct parts and tools for the job. This avoids delays which may arise when to waiting for parts or qualified people to come and do their part.
  • Skills and manpower requirements, and whether there is need to outsource
  • Sequence or steps to follow when working and the duration of the tasks.
  • Third party services such as temporary workers, equipment hires such as cranes, scaffolds and more
  • Corporation from other departments. Every person must be ready and willing to do their part. The departmental heads should also agree to shut down their machine or process during the time of maintenance without causing problems.

Missing details in a maintenance job plan

A single missing detail such as a part, tool or procedure will delay the execution of the maintenance job. In some cases, an overworked or unqualified planner may overlook or miss a detail or two, hence affecting the whole process. To avoid such situations, the management should ensure that have a qualified and experienced planner who can execute the whole maintenance planning efficiently.

Multitasking planners

In some organizations, the planners have other roles such as expediting the parts, supervising, writing work orders and more. Even with the need to do more with less, giving the planners additional responsibilities outside the real planning may distract them and cause them to lose focus. Also, they may be lacking in some of the administrative tasks, but with proper training, they may perform them efficiently.

Inefficient work execution

When workers follow the steps that are out of sequence, chances of repeat jobs increase. In addition, they may miss out critical steps which cannot be completed once the preceding ones have been accomplished. This affects the quality and integrity of the maintenance. As such, the asset may not operate efficiently and may not even reach the next maintenance cycle before something goes wrong.

To avoid such from occurring, the planner should be very clear when laying down the work plans. They should also have a thorough knowledge of the system and what needs to be done step by step.



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How to prevent maintenance job failures

Qualified and competent planners

The planner plays a critical position on the entire process. For this reason, the person should have the appropriate qualifications, skills, and experience in similar systems.

Even with the right planner, regular training ensures they are up to date with new equipment, technologies, and maintenance procedures. They must also understand how to plan, schedule and respond when the need arises.

Integrity of the maintenance plan

The integrity depends on factors such as the parts, allocation of jobs, manpower, and more. Other factors include the availability of the right tools and support gear such as cranes, scaffold, and other equipment which the company will usually hire from third-party providers.

It is essential to have an efficient plan and schedule, as well as the proper allocation of resources and manpower. Allocating insufficient time to certain tasks means that the workers may rush the tasks to complete on schedule. Usually, this may happen when the planner does not get feedback from the workers or supervisor.

The proper job sequence ensures that all workers are busy and do not have to wait for their colleagues to complete certain tasks before they can start theirs. This enables the workers to finish the work within the shortest time possible by reducing time wastage and this will consequently translate to a short downtime. This can only happen when the employees have the required materials and tools and are working on the right things at the right time. In addition, proper coordination with other departments ensures that there are no delays in releasing their equipment for service.

Coordination with other departments and third-party providers

The planner must ensure that everybody is on the same page. There must be proper communication between all the departments that will be affected by maintenance so that they can also adjust their schedules. This allows them to release the equipment for service at the right time. They may also clean or prepare the equipment so that the technicians won’t have to wait or waste time doing what could have been done prior to the maintenance.

Avoid planning at the desk and go to the machine

The planner should make an effort of understanding the systems and visit the sites when planning. Going to the machine locations allows the planner to consider the safety, preparation and other things that have an impact on the flow of the maintenance job. Assessing the machines and its surrounding is important for the planning process.

Feedback upon job completion

A feedback upon job completion is essential and everything done should be documented in details. A good plan will usually specify the parts, tools, time and procedures for the work. On the other hand, a post-job feedback provides information about how the job was done and if there were deviations between the actual performance and the plan. The planners and managers can then use the failures as opportunities to learn and avoid similar issues in future jobs.

The planner should request for details about the maintenance needs and repairs, as well as how the tasks were carried out, parts replaced, etc. This provides an opportunity for improvements while allowing for quicker problem solving when similar issues arise.


Every planner should aim at enabling the workers to perform their tasks cost effectively and without delays. The planning should consider everything that will make the job a success. In addition to the materials, manpower, and timing, the planner must address safety issues, permits, reference materials and the sequence of the steps to follow.

There is also the need to have proper maintenance records with the job plan library, job cards, assets-to-spares inventory, backlog data and any other important information. In addition, the reports should include the successes and failures as well as the technicians’ feedback and suggestion. The planner can use these to determine what is working and what requires improvement.