Maintenance Q&As

How does preventive maintenance scheduling work?

Answered April 18 2019

At a basic level, preventive maintenance (PM) scheduling is simple: figure out a task to be completed, set a time and a place, and assign someone to perform the work. Once that time comes, the assignee does the work, and the scheduled event is either completed (one time) or recurs at some specified interval.

Maintenance scheduling is the process of making sure planned work is carried out. It involves bringing all the necessary resources together to make sure tasks are completed correctly and on time.

Tip: Maintenance scheduling is often confused with maintenance planning. However, the two are different processes. Planning deals with what needs to be done and how, while scheduling handles who does it and when.

However, there are a lot of different ways to schedule PM work other than based on time, and the scheduling process differs based on your choice of CMMS software.

What is Preventive Maintenance Scheduling?

In maintenance scheduling, the scheduler determines who will perform the work, as well as coordinating materials, equipment, and an overall timeframe for the work. This kind of schedule doesn’t just target specific dates—work can be performed on repeated intervals as well, like in a preventive maintenance program.

Who completes maintenance scheduling?

Typically, maintenance schedules may be completed by:

Tip: Dedicated schedulers are often necessary in large operations with complex maintenance needs. In smaller operations, individual supervisors or even the planner may perform this role.

Maintenance teams need to take multiple factors into account when scheduling maintenance work. Following the steps listed below will make certain nothing is left out.

  1. Read the work order and clarify details with the maintenance planner.
  2. Secure necessary resources, such as tools, people, supplies, spare parts, safety equipment.
  3. Make sure the asset is available and ready for work.
  4. Assign the task to a technician for completion.
  5. Follow up and make improvements as needed.

Some tasks may be scheduled on a recurring basis, in which case the scheduler needs to make sure each work order is completed on time every time.

Maintenance Scheduling Process

The process typically looks a little something like this:

1. Create a preventive maintenance schedule

First, a maintenance or facility manager actually has to create a PM schedule. This can take multiple forms. For example, you can schedule a PM for a singular piece of equipment. Then, relevant employees like technicians and engineers will go through a list of repeatable tasks. They will set the timeline of when the tasks should be done and decide who has the technical expertise to perform the work.

On the other hand, a manager can outline an area- or facility-wide PM schedule which applies to all assets in that area or facility. For instance, if everything in a factory needs to receive a monthly inspection, the PM is a monthly entry that applies to every relevant asset.

Once the team establishes what needs to be done in their PM plan, they set a schedule for when to complete the work. The PM interval depends on the asset. Schedules are most commonly time-based, but you may use cycles, the number of finished products, mileage, or any other trackable metric as well.

2. Schedule work orders

Once the PM is created in your CMMS software, a work order will be created for each instance. Most CMMS platforms allow users to create reoccurring work orders on an equipment-specific basis. Facilities can create a work order using checklists that automatically include the relevant procedural documentation for maintenance personnel.

Tip: UpKeep is one of many CMMS platforms that maintenance teams can use to create an awesome PM schedule. If you’re interested in starting a free trial, sign up here.

3. Assign, complete, and log the work

Once the work order appears, it is assigned to a maintenance technician. At this point, the technician is responsible for the maintenance work. They use the work order as a log for the task, documenting any issues encountered or other relevant data. The work order also tracks whether the PM was completed on time.

After successfully finishing the work, the technician closes out the work order, signaling that the PM should reoccur either at its specified interval (fixed) or from the moment the work is completed (floating). The work order will generate automatically upon the next interval being reached –  forming a preventive maintenance schedule per asset, area, or facility.

Common scheduling challenges

While the scheduling process seems fairly cut and dry, it’s often riddled with challenges that can disrupt workflows and decrease schedule compliance. Some of these challenges include:

  • Lack of communication with operations crews
  • Inefficient MRO inventory management
  • Challenges with suppliers
  • Lack of proper in-house training for specialized tasks
  • Misunderstandings with contractors

These challenges often stem from the difficulty of working with multiple parties at once. Because of this, schedulers need strong communication skills—and in some cases a will of iron—to make sure tasks happen on time.

Improving maintenance scheduling

In order to improve your maintenance scheduling practices, consider the following pointers:

The ultimate goal is to make sure equipment is properly maintained, so keep that in mind when scheduling maintenance work.

Tip: Typically, your scheduling practices need improvement if over 20% of work orders are completed late.

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