What are Maintenance Work Orders? 

Maintenance Work Orders (WO) are digital or physical documents that provide critical information and instructions for the completion of maintenance tasks. Both digital work orders and paper work orders typically include several common components including contact information for key parties, equipment details, a step-by-step process for completing the task, and an urgency rating. Work orders provide maintenance technicians with the details required to initiate, complete, and document repairs, inspections, and all types of routine and emergency maintenance tasks.

How do maintenance teams utilize work orders? 

Maintenance teams create and track work orders to streamline task execution, more efficiently utilize maintenance resources, and monitor the department’s performance. Work orders may be created in response to a variety of asset management and facility management scenarios including routine inspections, regulatory scheduled maintenance, and sudden equipment failure. 

Common work order use cases

Organizations rely on these work orders to smooth the transition from initial detection to work request to task resolution with continuous monitoring and accountability. Below are several situations in which maintenance teams use work orders:

  • Regularly scheduled maintenance tasks including routine inspections, preventive maintenance, and proactive replacement of aging parts
  • Reactive repairs in response to sudden malfunction, equipment failure, or total breakdown
  • Installation of new equipment or upgrades to existing assets
  • Safety inspections and compliance checks.

Standard work order workflow

Below is the basic workflow that most organizations will use for issuing and following through on work orders.

  1. Work request: A technician, supervisor, or operator will identify a maintenance issue and create a formal work order request including details on the asset and its issue.
  2. Authorization of work: A manager will approve the work request, which initiates the work order creation process. This document should also include details on tasks, priorities, and deadlines. 
  3. Assignment of work: The task is assigned to a technician or maintenance team based on their areas of expertise, availability, and current workload. 
  4. Task execution: Technicians or maintenance team performs the task(s) detailed in the work order. 
  5. Documentation: Technician(s) will typically provide details on the time required for task completion as well as materials used, issues encountered, and notes on additional maintenance needs identified while completing the assigned task.
  6. Review, Approval and Feedback: Supervisors review completed work orders, formally close them out, and provide feedback where relevant in order to promote continuous improvement of maintenance processes.

Work orders and maintenance strategies 

The asset management strategy that your maintenance department uses will determine the types of events that trigger the creation of maintenance requests and the authorization of work orders. Below, we take a brief look at how different maintenance strategies can shape your work request and work order workflow:

  • Reactive maintenance strategies initiate maintenance activities only when a piece of equipment malfunctions or fails. This means that a work request will only be created after an asset has presented an issue in need of immediate attention.
  • Preventive maintenance is a proactive approach in which routine inspection, equipment audits, and regularly scheduled maintenance are used to prevent malfunction or failure. In this case, work orders are triggered at regular intervals based on a predetermined maintenance schedule
  • Predictive maintenance is a sophisticated approach in which equipment is continuously monitored using an array of condition monitoring techniques such as thermography, oil analysis, or acoustic analysis to provide real-time data. A work order may be triggered when these condition monitoring tools detect irregularities. 
  • Prescriptive maintenance is a proactive maintenance approach that uses AI and Machine Learning tools to determine how your assets are most likely to malfunction or fail. In this case, a new work order will be initiated in response to data projecting a need for maintenance or part replacement.

How do you create a maintenance work order?

Every organization relies on its own process for creating and completing work orders. In most cases, however, that approach begins with a clearly structured template. 

An effective maintenance work order should include all the information that technicians will need to complete tasks efficiently as well as the proper documentation to ensure effective tracking and accountability. Most templates for maintenance work orders include some variation of the following common components:

Contact Information

  • Identify the Requestor, including name and contact info for the originator of the work order.
  • Identify the Approver, including name and contact info for the manager authorizing the work.
  • Identify the Assigned Technician(s), including name(s) and contact info for team member(s) who will carry out the requested work. 

Equipment Details

  • Specify the location of assets in need of maintenance.
  • Adhere to a navigable tracking system such as the use of tickets, bar codes, serial numbers, or QR codes.
  • Include helpful illustrations, photos or diagrams.

Task Description

  • Provide a step-by-step guide to completing the maintenance task.
  • Address the questions most likely to arise during the maintenance process. Your assignees shouldn’t need to ask many (if any) follow-up questions if you’ve included all the necessary details.
  • Supply a checklist to assist the maintenance team in confirming that they’ve completed the task correctly.

Parts and Materials

  • List all materials, parts, and resources needed to complete the maintenance task.
  • Identify the tools that the technician or team will require to successfully carry out the maintenance task
  • Indicate the availability and location of relevant maintenance kits for the specific task at hand. 

Task Urgency

  • Indicate whether the maintenance task is predictive, preventive, or reactive.
  • Assess the priority of the maintenance task including its potential impact on productivity and safety.
  • Note key dates including your expected completion date for the task. 

Your work order template should promote consistency, comprehension, and ease-of-use. Explore our completely free maintenance templates and checklists.

Different types of work order forms 

While the section above identifies the most common components, work order forms may differ depending on the type of work in question. The following are some examples of different work order types and the kinds of maintenance tasks that typically trigger them:

  • Corrective maintenance work orders: When low-priority assets malfunction, this may trigger a repair work order.
  • Inspection work orders: Regularly scheduled safety, compliance, or functionality reviews may trigger a work order for routine inspection.
  • Emergency work orders: A sudden malfunction, safety hazard or failure of a high-priority asset may prompt the creation of a work order with elevated task urgency. 
  • Preventive maintenance work orders: Routine maintenance requirements such as oil changes, parts replacements, and equipment cleaning can trigger work orders for regularly planned maintenance activities.

Managing work orders: best practices 

There are several proven strategies for optimizing your maintenance work order management process. Below, we take a closer look at some of the industry best practices for effective maintenance work order process.

  • Define your goals: Identify the KPIs that you will use to evaluate the completion of your work orders and the metrics that you will use to track performance. Communicate these terms to your maintenance team with clarity and detail.
  • Delegate tasks: Define roles and responsibilities clearly and ensure that the channels of communication are open and multidirectional. 
  • Set triggers for maintenance: Proactive maintenance strategies lengthen the life of your assets, prevent unplanned downtime, improve parts inventory management, and reduce the cost of repairs. Use scheduled triggers to initiate work orders in anticipation of time-based tasks.  
  • Analyze and upgrade your processes: Evaluate the efficacy of your work order management process. If possible, deploy data analytics to understand the causes of maintenance backlogs and other problems. Determine how effectively your maintenance program addresses issues, completes assigned tasks, and reduces equipment downtime. Use this determination to enhance your process over time. 
  • Transition to work order management software: A computerized maintenance management system (CMMS), for instance, streamlines your work order lifecycle from work request to task completion. Reliable CMMS software can enable your team to manage service requests from their mobile devices and ensure the entire maintenance program is positioned to minimize downtime, maximize productivity, and ensure the longevity of your assets. 

Download our free template for maintenance work order forms 

One of the keys to an effective work order management system and efficient maintenance operations in general is utilizing a template that suits your maintenance needs and streamlines the process of completing scheduled work

With Limble’s powerful Work Order Ticketing System, you can actually create your own work order template–one that is fully compatible with your organization’s overall maintenance strategy. You can also explore our completely free maintenance templates and checklists to see if there are other useful templates and checklists you can start using today! 

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