Should supervisors participate in maintenance planning?

I think there are a couple ways to interpret this question, and it comes down to what you mean by “maintenance planning.”

It’s true that maintenance supervisors perform some form of planning at the start of each shift. They make plans based on the tasks to be performed that day, and then assign those to shifts as needed. However, they’re largely focused on the day-to-day aspects of maintenance work, not the long-term goals of maintenance planning.

True maintenance planning deals with the long-term aspects of maintaining reliability. Tasks that fall into this realm include:

  • Keeping needed parts in stock
  • Inspecting assets for problems
  • Prioritizing corrective maintenance tasks
  • Scheduling maintenance tasks based on priority and skill requirements

Many of these tasks deal with timeframes of a week or more, taking them outside the realm of maintenance supervisors into that of higher level management. Many organizations have a maintenance planner to take this on, and some might even add a dedicated scheduler to handle the actual scheduling process.

Now, you do want communication among your personnel. Supervisors have a clear idea of what’s going on in the facility based on day-to-day experience, so they should be able to communicate with your maintenance planners. In like manner, the schedules that result from maintenance planning should be readily available to supervisors. However, the two roles need to be kept distinct.

Why? It’s all a matter of focus. Maintenance supervisors need to be focused on the daily chaos and reactive tasks inherent to their role. Once they’re put into longer term planning, their mindset is taken out of “today” and flung out into next week and beyond. It makes them less efficient by dividing their focus.

In addition, including supervisors in your planning processes is a bit redundant since that role is already filled by a planner. As such, I’d advise against taking time out of your supervisor’s day to deal with tasks already being handled by someone else.