Most physical assets have to undergo routine maintenance to address the wear and tear due to regular operations. In other words, scheduled maintenance has to be part of the regular workflow at any facility.
The negative side of scheduled maintenance is that it can sometimes disrupt normal business operations. The prime example is not being able to use a particular piece of equipment while it is undergoing scheduled maintenance.
Therefore, it is important to know how to schedule maintenance work in a way that causes minimal impact on productivity and overall system availability.
What is scheduled maintenance?
Scheduled maintenance refers to any pre-planned maintenance work that has to be completed within a certain time. Oftentimes, those are routine maintenance activities like air filters or oil changes that repeat at regular intervals.
That being said, scheduled maintenance can be initiated as a response to a maintenance ticket. In such instances, the downtime for maintenance has to be planned in advance. The planning will include the material handling process, allocating tools and parts, designating technicians, and a timetable for maintenance.
Scheduled maintenance may or may not include planned downtime. Some maintenance activities like vibration monitoring can be done on machines in active operation. Others, like rewinding an electric motor, will require equipment shutdown.
The business impact of scheduled maintenance
As we mentioned in the intro, scheduled maintenance can disrupt regular operations unless prudent planning is taken.
When the machine is under maintenance, it can create a bottleneck. The upstream processes are backed up due to the bottleneck, while downstream processes are idle. We can all agree that this is not an efficient way to utilize plant resources.
Due to the nature of their operations, some industries can handle scheduled maintenance without any visible impact on system availability.
The prime example is the IT industry. In the modern cloud model of infrastructure maintenance, IaaS providers will conduct maintenance tasks without interfering with the live operations of the IT system.
Live operations will be transferred to a redundant or free machine. This time can be utilized to do maintenance work on the original machine. The advantage is that maintenance work can be undertaken without impacting the regular operations of the IT product. The downside is the cost of purchasing and maintaining redundant equipment.
Scheduled maintenance critical percent (SMCP)
Scheduled maintenance critical percent is a tool used to determine the priority for different tasks that are scheduled. All the required tasks may not be completed within the time allotted for maintenance. Technicians have to choose between the different tasks according to their priority, which can be calculated using the SMCP formula:
SMCP is calculated for maintenance processes that are repeated at a constant interval. The number of days in the maintenance cycle represents this regular maintenance interval. The number of days late is the number of days since the maintenance process was supposed to happen.
In other words, SMCP is an empirical method to quantify how critical each maintenance task is. It can be used to identify and discard low-priority work in order to complete more critical maintenance tasks.
Scheduling maintenance with minimal impact on business operations
Maintenance schedules can be created based on:
- OEM guidelines (manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule)
- current operating conditions of machines
- past maintenance data and experience
If you look closely, you’ll see that maintenance schedules are only as precise as the information they are based upon. Machine failure prediction is not an exact science – so scheduling work designed to prevent it can’t be either.
Modern maintenance strategies and tools are pretty good at detecting and predicting failures. However, they still have a fairly high barrier for entry because of their technical requirements and upfront costs.
Let’s take a look at a few different ways in which organizations can schedule maintenance in a way that will not interfere with normal business operations.
The Essential Guide to CMMS
The Essential Guide to CMMS
Using CMMS to plan and organize maintenance work
Computerized maintenance management systems help businesses plan, automate, and streamline all maintenance-related tasks, regardless of the industry.
It can be used to:
- manage incoming maintenance work requests
- track and forecast MRO inventory needs
- help maintenance planners overview available resources and create efficient maintenance schedules
- instantly access SOPs, checklists, and maintenance logs, shortening the time technicians needs to troubleshoot equipment and perform other scheduled maintenance tasks
- view and manage scheduled work via maintenance calendar
- and much more
Snapshot of a maintenance calendar in Limble CMMS
Overview of scheduled maintenance tasks inside Limble CMMS
CMMS acts as the central repository for all maintenance activities. Modern CMMS systems are cloud-based so that data can be accessed from anywhere. With it, maintenance data is not just readily available, it is way more accurate than excel sheets and paper logs.
Any scheduled maintenance tasks that emerge from new work orders can be automatically allocated to a specific technician – while taking into account existing work schedules and tools/parts availability.
This is extremely useful for large manufacturing operations as it enables maintenance planners to coordinate planned maintenance work with production planners and other affected departments.
Using SMCP to prioritize maintenance work
SMCP of a process is directly correlated to how late the maintenance has been and how critical the maintenance of the machinery is. This can be calculated for all maintenance tasks that need to be completed within the stipulated time frame.
Maintenance tasks with higher SMCP are given priority and are completed first. If something needs to end up on a deferred maintenance backlog, it will be tasks that are less important.
Checklist for Creating a Preventive Maintenance Plan
Following a consistent Preventive Maintenance Plan can make life easier. Use this checklist to create your own!
Shortening planned downtime through training and standardization
Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are created to reduce the variance in performance when different technicians do the same task. Trained technicians with access to SOPs and checklists can perform their duties promptly, without fumbling between different manuals. This reduces the time needed to complete scheduled maintenance tasks.
Standardized processes also decrease the number of human errors. This avoids the need for rescheduling due to a technician’s oversight. The advantage of that is two-fold. It prevents another downtime and eliminates problems that arise from faulty work.
Of course, this matters little if the person performing the work isn’t properly trained or does not have access to the right maintenance tools.
Reducing excessive maintenance with condition monitoring and predictive analytics
Less scheduled maintenance tasks = less potential for disrupting business operations.
Since the dawn of preventative maintenance, maintenance planners have been looking for ways to optimize their preventive maintenance plans. What is the least amount of maintenance work I can schedule, while still keeping equipment breakdowns at bay?
Condition monitoring coupled with predictive maintenance allows you to eliminate excessive maintenance by keeping a constant pulse on the condition of your critical assets. You can schedule only those tasks that are needed – exactly when they are needed – without compromising on asset health or performance.
Using sensors and predictive analytics, the maintenance team will already have a good idea of what went wrong and what kind of work needs to be performed. It will have ample time to allocate resources (tools, parts, labor) and fit the required work into the existing maintenance and production schedules.
Scheduled maintenance is a critical activity for any business that relies on the high availability of its physical assets. At the same time, conducting excessive maintenance work can negatively impact productivity, service delivery, and the bottom line.
It is imperative to minimize the negative impacts of scheduled maintenance processes. This can be done by establishing task priority with the help of SMCP, the effective use of a CMMS system, and by relying on predictive analytics and data automation to improve maintenance planning and scheduling.