Guide to Maintenance Scheduling

Maintenance scheduling is the process of putting maintenance tasks on a timeline or calendar to ensure they are executed effectively at the right time. It is a critical component of any strategic maintenance program, and it supports proactive maintenance and other approaches to minimizing planned and unplanned downtime. 

By carefully prioritizing maintenance needs and requests alongside the resources needed to complete the tasks, maintenance teams can create maintenance schedules that ensure the smallest possible impact on company operations.

Maintenance at the “right time”

A key element—and benefit—of maintenance scheduling is ensuring tasks are planned for the right time. The “right time” will vary based on factors that may be weighed differently at each organization but commonly include: 

  • Technician availability to complete the task
  • Availability of supplies and spare parts needed to complete the task
  • Impact of planned shutdown, if needed, on operations and productivity
  • Priority of the task and importance to efficient operations

Finding the right maintenance window is critical for balancing ongoing operations and performing maintenance activities. 

Maintenance scheduling versus maintenance planning

Maintenance scheduling and maintenance planning are often used interchangeably, but they mean different things. While they go hand in hand, they refer to different parts of a maintenance strategy.

Maintenance planning is the overall process of determining how your organization will go about maintaining facilities and equipment and includes ensuring that the right skillsets, parts, and tools are on hand to do it. Maintenance scheduling, on the other hand, focuses more on the execution of maintenance plans and involves getting tasks on the calendar and assigning them to accountable individuals.

Benefits of effective maintenance scheduling

While maintenance scheduling sounds good, it requires time investment to think ahead. So why make the effort? 

Similar to many other forms of proactive maintenance, scheduling is a great way to increase accountability for planned maintenance work and get ahead of backlogs. And that leads to numerous benefits for the entire organization, such as: 

  1. Improved equipment reliability and reduced downtime: By increasing the likelihood that work orders get executed on time, maintenance scheduling helps keep equipment running and reduces the frequency of costly breakdowns.
  2. Longer asset life: Anything that helps ensure the execution of routine maintenance will keep equipment and other assets running for longer, extending equipment lifespan and, ultimately, helping those assets retain their value
  3. Cost efficiency and budgeting: Scheduled maintenance is an extension of proactive and preventive maintenance, which reduces costs by fixing minor issues before they turn into major problems. And the foresight involved in the scheduling process makes budget forecasting and planning a lot easier. 
  4. Enhanced safety: When a piece of equipment is maintained effectively, it operates more safely and within specified guidelines, reducing the risk of accidents, injuries, and liabilities. 
  5. Energy and operational efficiency: Regular maintenance ensures that equipment and other assets are operating at peak performance while using energy and other consumables as efficiently as possible. 
  6. Improved regulatory compliance: In highly regulated industries, a thorough process for scheduling, executing, and documenting tasks helps improve maintenance compliance rates and meet regulatory expectations. 
  7. Data and insights: Following a maintenance schedule requires a certain degree of documentation, which in turn becomes data that can be analyzed and used for more informed decision-making. 

The maintenance scheduling process

Maintenance scheduling is most effective when it is a component of a larger maintenance plan. Regardless of the size of your organization, maintenance departments can always benefit from carefully evaluating their business’s needs and meticulously identifying the right maintenance actions to help achieve its goals. 

Once that plan is set, maintenance scheduling is a matter of coordination: 

    1. Identify a scheduling platform: Maintenance schedules must be documented on a platform that all technicians and key stakeholders can access to keep everyone aware of maintenance activities and responsibilities. Many organizations use software such as a Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) to play this role.
    2. Schedule maintenance activities: Scheduling of maintenance tasks should be coordinated around production schedules and resource availability to minimize downtime and disruptions as much as possible. 
    3. Ensure proper documentation: Many scheduling platforms and software systems will also have the capability to facilitate and document maintenance work using checklists and other tools. Good documentation is important not only for compliance and risk management purposes but also for coordinating and effectively performing future maintenance tasks. 
    4. Set follow-up triggers: Use your scheduling platform’s capabilities to trigger follow-up or routine maintenance tasks. This will help ensure that the needed maintenance is completed and will also create accountability within the maintenance team. 
    5. Monitor and adjust: As with any strategic initiative, it is critical to measure schedule compliance and other metrics to determine its effectiveness. If planned work isn’t producing results or is causing other issues in your maintenance operations, it is important to have a way to stay on top of changes that need to be made. 

Use a CMMS to schedule work with ease

Outlining a maintenance schedule will set any maintenance team up for greater efficiency. However, to truly reap the benefits, you must have the right tools and platform to help support and streamline your maintenance workflows. To learn more about how CMMS software can help your organization implement a strategic maintenance schedule, contact us today!

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