Podcast Masterminds in Maintenance

Episode 18: Investing in the People Behind Effective Maintenance Planning and Scheduling with Jeff Shiver

Ryan Chan

This week on Masterminds in Maintenance, we discuss effective maintenance planning and scheduling with Jeff Shiver. Only about 10% of planner schedulers are utilized effectively. Jeff Shiver shares with us how to interview, train and measure success for maintenance planners to make sure your business is in that 10%.

Jeff Shiver is an author, speaker, and most importantly, a trusted adviser. Jeff Shiver provides solutions to help organizations overcome their struggles with asset maintenance and reliability. This includes bench-marking, strategic plan development, and implementation using education and coaching. Jeff Shiver is the Founder of People and Processes, Inc. and partners with Facilities, Government, Manufacturers, and Municipalities across the world as providers of education and consulting services.

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00:05 Ryan: Welcome to Masterminds in Maintenance, a podcast for those with new ideas in maintenance. I’m your host, Ryan. I’m the CEO and founder of UpKeep. Each week, I’ll be meeting with a guest who’s had an idea for how to shape things up in the maintenance and reliability industry. Sometimes the idea failed, sometimes it made their business more successful, and other times, their idea revolutionized an entire industry.

00:26 Ryan: Today, I’m super excited to have the CEO and founder of People and Processes Inc. On the show, Jeff Shiver. Jeff has over 25 years of experience working in manufacturing and facilities environments. Within Mars North America, he worked at four different plant locations, held two different corporate roles. In Columbia, he was a vital team member starting a new pet food facility, initiating a predictive maintenance program and pioneering a plant for information to the web. Jeff, you started People and Processes in 2006, you’ve leveraged all of your expertise in mentoring, helping people in organizations, teaching them best practices. Welcome to the show, Jeff. That’s quite a bit.


01:10 Jeff Shiver: It is, Ryan, and thank you so much, man. I’m just super excited. Super excited to share some of my knowledge and experiences with your audience. I’m really looking forward to it.

01:17 Ryan: Maybe we could just start off by sharing a little bit about yourself and your background.

01:24 JS: Yeah, actually, you did a great job with part of my background, but…

01:28 Ryan: What did we miss?

01:29 JS: Prior to Mars, I did contract engineering for Proctor & Gamble and also for IBM in Manassas, Virginia. And as you mentioned, I spent the bulk of my career inside the Mars world, mostly confectionery, snack foods and pet care business units. And within that, I think I held almost every position that was possible. It seems like in a manufacturing facility, short of accounting, for example, but many positions, I was controls engineer in Cleveland, Tennessee, Albany, and Georgia. I was part of the startup team you mentioned that built a pet care facility in Columbia, South Carolina. In that facility, I was controls technician, reliabilities technician, actually started a predictive program. I was in IT. I took and used the database in the seamless information and also the story, the planter story. I started taking plant floor information and putting it out on the web, on the intranet before software even existed to really do it. We were actually coding in actual server pages, to give you an idea how long ago that was.

02:27 JS: It was really cool doing that kinda stuff. And then I got promoted into a corporate role doing that. They said, “Well, the pet food side mission… We will pull you back onto the snack food side, because snack food makes more money, and we want to leverage all this technology in our world as part of that.” And so, that was great as part of that. Production shift manager, continuous improvement manager and an operations manager. And the continuous improvement manager role, that was actually like a maintenance manager. So, I had other maintenance managers to report to me, like 100 technicians. So, it’s a large facility, the guard of that.

03:01 JS: And as you said, we started People and Processes in 2006 with other individuals, and now I’m the sole owner of the company. We’re a global consulting and educational services provider. We focus really on providing solutions to do exactly what you’re after. How do we educate people and bring them along on their reliability journey and actually help the organizations, and at the end of the day, save jobs? But we never talk about the human costs. We’re always talking about reliability, but it’s really important to talk about human costs as part of that picture too. So, yeah, that’s pretty much kind of a good summary.

03:32 Ryan: Yeah, I mean, that sounds like quite the experience and quite the breadth of different roles. You really meant it when you said you held pretty much every single role. I wanna go back to the very beginning, Jeff. How did you first, first get started in this field? What was your first footsteps into maintenance and reliability?

03:52 JS: Really, I got started when I was doing the control engineering role. And within that, I was really working closely with maintenance and after building the plant in Columbia, I became the technician. And they started reliability program, where we used an all predictive technologies, vibration, infrared, ultrasound, all analysis, all those things. And it was really fun because, for example, even air surveys, compressed air surveys, we’d go out in the field, take our ultrasound guns and shoot different fittings and things and come back, and the maintenance guys would just fuss because we’d find all these leaks. And they’re like, “There’s no way, Jeff, this stuff is leaking.” And absolutely, it was leaking. We’d show them and they’d fix it, and they’d get sheet poly flow fittings, and they’d come back and say, “Well, it’s fixed.” And I’d go, “Shoot it again.” “No, let’s not.” “You need to change what you’re using.” And so, it was really cool. Then I became involved in planning and scheduling as part of that role with regard to the corrective actions after doing shutdown and project planning in the engineering role for many, many years.

04:48 JS: And as a continuous improvement manager inside Waco, the maintenance manager role we just talked about actually led a change from being reactive to proactive. And as part of that, in the first 18 months, we gained about $20 million in capacity to the site. We reduced waste and scrap by 10 million and we took $2 million off the maintenance budget. Just in the first 18 months. So it was huge for the organization. And then, actually I got pulled into hardware to start leveraging this across the enterprise. And I’ll always remember the story. It was kinda cool because what would happen is, maintenance doesn’t really have a seat at the table in many organizations. Production drives the show. And as part of that, we would actually have storyboards out in the plant. So, when the VIPs would go tour around the plant, maintenance technicians would be standing there with the storyboards. And they’d talk about what great jobs they were doing and all the different technologies they were putting in, and how they were improving their work practices and driving to improve reliability.

05:49 JS: And as part of that, it was really neat because the VPs would wear lab coats, white lab coats for the food manufacturing. And the VP of manufacturing would stand behind, and I’d stand behind the VPs who were close to the board, the storyboard. And he’d pull out his pocket. He’d point to it and say, “Jeff, put more money in. Put more money in.” That’s exactly what we’re doing. This room was saving the business a ton of money, and all these things that we don’t talk about, the downtime and really, our indirect costs, really, from a maintenance perspective. When we look at that and then continuing on with some of that background with regard to how I got involved with it. Ten years ago, I even got really deep into the reliability center maintenance satisfaction, and obtained one of 75 practitioners around the world certified to teach our RCM-2 and RCM-3 now.

06:39 JS: So then we talk about certifications as well. CMRP, Asset Reliability Practitioner, CAT I, CAT II, CAT III, CRL, Certified Professional Maintenance Manager through AFE, Machinery Lubrication Technician I. So lots of different certifications, but I only leverage the certifications to help the clients to understand, okay, this is why it’s so important that you think about all these things, the things that we’ve talked about, before we even start it. How do we take and develop people to be able to fill the roles and meet the objectives and drive the business forward? That’s really the key at the end of the day. And as we talked about too before we started, in this past October, I actually finished a three-year term as the Member Services Director for the Society of Maintenance Reliability Professionals, and that’s why we didn’t catch up at the conference in October, because I was so busy doing all that great stuff.

07:33 Ryan: What’s one surprising, unsuspecting thing that you absolutely love most about the industry that you’ve learned over time?

07:41 JS: The people. It is all about the people. It really is. And we probably don’t have time to get into all of that here, but man, it is the people who are the most important things. And we always give lip service to that, you see companies give lip service to that, but that is the reality. We gotta have their buy-in to be successful. It’s just so important that we understand the needs of the people and help them understand, as part of that, what’s in it for them, and be able to answer that question when we talk about trying to transition from what they’ve been doing for the last 20 years to a better place.

08:17 Ryan: Awesome. I think I kind of know the answer to this next question now, Jeff, but I’m gonna ask it anyways. You started a company called People and Processes. Where did that name come from? [chuckle]

08:28 JS: It’s a great name, and it really fits because we just talked a lot about the people, but a lot of failure… If we even look at failure, for example, and we talk about reliability-centered maintenance, 40% of the failures… If we look at that 7% of the failures were self-induced, and 40% of that is just human error, it is part of it. So if we can’t get the people side right, then we’re in trouble. We’re never gonna be successful. And then if you’re gonna try to change the organization, you’ve gotta get people to buy in. So people is clearly one of the things, and with regard to the process aspects, one of the plant managers I work with in Waco, Texas, his name was Ken Hampton, and he always talked to me… And basically, I worked with him at different plants across the Mars organization, and he always talked to me about ways of working. “Jeff, this is about the ways of working.” It’s about the processes. I learned a long time ago too in Six Sigma that every product is the result of a process, and in many organizations I go to, what I see is they don’t have the processes.

09:32 JS: They clearly haven’t defined the processes and they haven’t audited their processes to understand where they need to improve or why people are deviating. We talk about deviational processes too. Generally, what happens is people are just trying to get the job done, and Deming said himself that oftentimes it’s the processes that management puts in place that impede the worker from doing the right work. So how do we make sure we’re doing the right work in the right ways? We have to audit that to find out. But that’s where the name really came from. It just became the obvious choice.

10:06 Ryan: I love it. Well, Jeff, today, I really wanted to chat about the people behind maintenance in planning and scheduling, since I know that this is a topic that you’ve covered quite a bit, both in your writing and also within the company. So I guess the first question I’ve got for you, where have you found the best maintenance planners and schedulers that are effective? Where do they come from? What skills did they hold? I think we were just talking about this right before we started recording, was 37% of people that apply for these jobs don’t actually have the skills and aptitude. Where do you find the ones that are?

10:43 JS: The reality for planning and scheduling, it’s one of the more detail roles that we have in the organization. So on the surface, obviously, we want computer skills, is a huge piece for us because we’re working with tools like UpKeep. We gotta get the CMMS, and we gotta make it work. But in addition to that, they need to be motivated, self-driven, because a lot of times they’re actually working in a solo fashion. And they have to go out to the job site by themselves, and… Planners can spend a third of the day in the field, and so they go out, they actually look at the jobs and they plan for those, so they need to be able to go out and be driven to do that.

11:17 JS: And they have to be people-friendly. We’ve talked a lot about people already, but it has to be a collaborative approach. How do you actually get and help people buy into what you’re trying to do? And so we make the mistake because, we think that the planner is supposed to give the technician a fully detailed job plan. The reality is, is we want a planner to give him a head start, and then we can improve that over time with feedback, and build that into the job plans. So it’s really important. But what I’ll say is, is here’s the really… The piece that we often miss, and I see so many organizations don’t do in the right way. We don’t pull craft skills in. If you’re gonna plan for the work, you really need craft skills for the work you’re gonna plan for.

12:00 JS: And I see organizations take people, and we get into great discussions all the time, and I teach planning and scheduling classes, like for the University of Tennessee, RMIC. And as part of that, you have people in the roles and they’ll be like, “Well, Jeff, I don’t have craft skills.” And I’m like, “Okay, but the learning curve is much longer for you because of that.” It’s not that it can’t be accomplished, it can, but the reality is is the learning curve is much steeper and you have to overcome that. Some people can really come up the curve quickly, but others can’t, and it also hurts you with credibility with the technicians. And I’ll add this too. What we see is, is many times companies will actually go and they’ll try to promote from within, they’ll try to take technicians and make them planners, but HR gets involved, and when they do the job posting, what happens is… Maybe it’s a salaried position and they wanna pay like 70 grand a year or some number.

12:37 JS: And as part of that, the technician looks at it and says, “Well, I make with the overtime, I’m making $100,000 a year now, and so if I take this job, it’s gonna directly impact my pocketbook, my wallet, so I’m not gonna do that,” unless for some reason, they wanna get off of the midnight shift and go to day shift or something like that. But that’s part of the issue is why we don’t get the skilled people into those roles, is simply because we don’t look at what they earn. And oftentimes when they take the planner position, it becomes a salaried position over an hourly position.

13:26 JS: If you really want to mess with the planners, I’ll share something I’ve seen in the past, that happened at a chemical plant. They got a new technical director and he said, “Okay, let’s shake things up.” And I’m like, “Excuse me?” And he says, “Yeah.” He says, “What we’re gonna do, is we’re gonna have the maintenance and the mechanical planners plan for the electricians and we’re gonna have the electrical planner plan for the mechanics.” And I’m like, “Nah.” And then if you really wanna get somebody emotional, start playing with their pay and that’s what he did. He took them from hourly to salary and then that wasn’t working. So then the salary was with overtime, and I’m like… Still by then he had disenfranchised pretty much every planner they had as part of that. It’s just like, “Those are things you don’t wanna do.” This part of… This is a craft and we need to treat it like a craft. And it’s also planning and scheduling is part of that.

14:17 Ryan: So in the perfect world, Jeff, you had two different people, one had the craft skills maybe this is a former… Or maybe it’s an existing technician that you could either promote into a planning, scheduling role, or it’s a very organized project manager person. Which one would you think would be best suited for this role? Do you have a preference?

14:45 JS: I would go for the crafts skills. I would always go for the crafts skills. Because again, it’s not that the other person can’t be successful, because they can. But if you think about what we’re trying to accomplish, what we’re trying to accomplish with planning is to try and determine what materials are necessary, how long is it gonna take, what are the specific tasks? And I’ll talk about it a little bit later, probably as part of the conversation, but what happens to this… The planner really has a responsibility to try to drive defect elimination. It’s not just about giving a head-start for the technicians, but it’s also about how do they eliminate some of the defects? So understanding the special case is necessary. What torque, what gaps, what fits, what clearances? Those kinds of things. What kind of belt tension, do we need?

15:30 JS: And as part of it… What kind of materials do I need to order? And it’s better if they’ve done the job in the past, because that really sets them up for success as opposed to… If you take somebody who doesn’t have that background and what they’re doing is they’re coming in and they’re taking some work order. And then they’re having to go to the the technician or the supervisors to find out what materials they need and everything else, it just slows down the whole process. And if you think about it, ultimately, we want to be 90% plan, 10% reactive. That’s the goal. So how do we farm more and more work into the planning realm, and push that through?

16:08 JS: I was just talking just this last week with an organization that’s a municipal water treatment organization. And as part of that, they talked about, “Well, our planners, all they have time to do is get materials.” But that doesn’t help us with regard to that. So it’s really important that we focus on the crafts skills and understand… ‘Cause again, how do we give them a head-start? That’s what I’m trying to do is drive the craft efficiencies basically, in addition… From well, temporal efficiencies somewhere in the 25 to 35%. I’ve seen it as low as a measure, 12%, but the target is 55 to 65% from a [16:46] ____ perspective. But bigger than that, it’s a defect elimination things. Those specifications and things. It’s not about planning and scheduling the work, it’s about eliminating ultimately the need to plan and schedule all of that work.

16:55 Ryan: Yeah, absolutely. So taking that step back is so important. And understanding why do we even have this role? It’s not just to plan and schedule, again, to your point, it’s about defect elimination. It’s about moving from being more proactive than we are reactive. Which is a good segue into this next question. I read your article on LinkedIn titled RCM3 Planning and Scheduling. The Rubber Meets the Road. And I read a specific note in that article that you mentioned only about 10% of planners are utilized effectively. So now that we’ve got this technician with the crafts skills that wants to move into this planner scheduler role, how do you train this person to be part of the 10%? To be part of the folks that are being utilized effectively?

17:45 JS: Well, it’s a combination… Actually training actually does a small portion of that, believe it or not. And what happens is is you can send the planner in… And I say this in classes that I teach all the time. What happens is they’ll send the planner… For example, the planning and the scheduling class. They’ll take the three-day course on and then they go back into their organization and they’re like, “I can’t plan and schedule because you’ve got me doing everything else. You got me doing the fire extinguisher checks and I’m managing the contractors and I’m doing all this stuff.” And that’s actually what we talk about, the planner focus should be next week and beyond. Not this week. And the supervisor really has responsibility for this week and when you pull the planners into this week, you ruin that. They can’t focus on the future.

18:31 JS: And as I said for some of those planning classes and some of those planners who tell me, “Jeff, I just wish everybody else was here to get the same message, because they expect me to come back and to change the organization. I’m just one person and I’m an hourly technician level basically or so. And I can’t do that.” Well, first I will say, “Number one, you can. Because change can start with one and every journey starts with a single step.” But as part of that, I understand, in the bigger picture they struggle with that. But if the production people don’t give access to the equipment, then you can put all the schedules together that you want and it won’t matter.

19:13 JS: And if the maintenance technicians don’t believe in what you’re doing then what they do is say… Or the supervisors more importantly, they just sunk your plan and your schedule and things in the trashcan as they walk out the door from the scheduling meeting. And believe it or not, I’ve actually seen that happen. So the challenge with this is, how do you educate your organization? And I’m really encouraged when we’re able to go on-site and we actually do planning and scheduling education within the site itself and they can get more than just a planners there. They get supervisors, they get production supervisors, the maintenance manager. All of them get the same message. And that’s really key, but in this part of that too… The other piece behind that is, how do you leverage coaching and auditing the processes and making sure that the planners are doing what you expect? Or you’re not impeding the planner? And we’ll talk about it as well later probably but an assessment. How do you actually know where you’re at today? Compare it to the best practices from a planning and scheduling standpoint and putting together a plan of action to fix that stuff.

19:25 Ryan: Do you think planning and scheduling should be broken out into two different roles?

19:25 JS: Oh, that’s a great question. And as a part of that.

20:25 JS: There’s… It depends, okay and within… When I was the continuous improvement manager we did that. I used to schedule a role as a developmental role for a planner position. And we had basically four planners and one scheduler. And that scheduler interfaced with the production to say, “Hey when is it we want to do the work?” But the planners actually worked when the workers came in. How do we actually determine what we need to do and what’s the right way to plan the job, get materials, all those kind of things, and the hour estimates and that’s… But truthfully, in many cases it’s better if you have the planner and the scheduler role combined because the person who planned it knows what’s required. And so that’s helpful when they go to do the scheduling piece, and work with the other stakeholders in the scheduling meeting in other places, as you know… So how do we make sure we’re doing it the right way, and we… And we often talk about it running in terms of planning and scheduling. But it’s really planning then scheduling, and it’s part of that coordination, and we miss the coordination aspects, which is another key piece.

21:31 Ryan: Yeah, absolutely. I always find that that’s an interesting question. What I often hear is, you’re right, it depends, it depends on the size of your organization, it depends on your resources, it depends on what is a problem that you’re trying to solve today and what is the biggest problem that you’re trying to solve?

21:48 Ryan: Jeff I… Tackling on to this next piece which actually builds on the previous one: How do you interview, how do you test maintenance planners’ effectiveness? What do you look for and how do you make sure that you’re continuously improving on your own skills as a maintenance planner, and scheduler?

22:12 JS: Well, when we talk about actually interviewing… I’ll share an experience I had, with a… It was actually an aluminium smelting plant. And what they did is they took and basically created extrusions if you will, for bottles, for aluminium bottles and aluminium cans, those kind of things. And as part of that it was really funny because one of the individuals that was applying for the planner position, they asked me to sit in on the interview and I had to do it by a telephone call, by a conference call. And so I was sitting there and I was asking all the right questions, and he was giving all the right answers. And I was like, wow. But the problem was, is I was expecting them to also be doing the testing as part of that. So it’s a combination of understanding… The people who are doing the interviewing need to understand what the best practices are. They need to understand how they put barriers in place of planners. But then they also need to put in some practical application tests as part of the interview process. How do we actually understand what the capabilities were? Because this individual was a perfect case. He went and he gave me all the right answers. And he… And I was assuming that they were actually doing the physical testing part, if you will.

23:24 JS: And so I came in about a month later, as part of a coaching visit for the site, and when I was there, I went over to him and I said, okay show me your schedules. And he said, “Well I’ve been struggling with them.” Stuff like this, learning the software. And it’s a month later, you know, and I’m okay. And I said “Well show me a plan that you put together, a job plan.” And he said “Well I don’t have any ’cause I’ve been working on the schedule stuff and things like that.” And I kept digging deeper, and I come to find out he knew the lingo, but he had never actually planned, formally did a job plan. And I said, “Okay, well now you’re in position, we gotta figure out how to fix this… Let’s roll up our sleeves.” And so we rolled up our sleeves and we went out in the plant and I showed him how to put together job plans. I came, I said, “Okay, you know how to, you talked about all this stuff, but you’ve never done it and now you can go do it. Because you’ve actually seen it.” And that was huge for him. And so that’s part of the challenge too is how do we… How do we make sure we’re doing that, and then bonding that piece in as well. How do we continue to invest?

24:24 JS: Well, I was at a cereal plant and they had 12 planners. They’d been in the role seven years. They had never had any formal planning or scheduling training. So they fell into the 90% of that… They’re doing everything but planning and scheduling, they were really reactive, they lived for it. And the challenge used to be, I actually spend time with them, said okay, this is how you plan the scheduled work. They spent three days, even I would come in in the afternoons after that and sit with the shift managers. And it was always great because we never talked about… We talked about planning and scheduling but we would also talk about priority as part of that, the criticality of priority, and it was great because I asked the shift supervisors, I said, “Okay, you all have different lines.” There was about six different lines represented. And I said, “Tell me, which line’s most important?” And how many hands do you think I got? I got six, from all different, from all the shift supervisors. “My line’s most important.” And I’m like, “But you have to realize we only have a small pool of resources here at the site from the maintenance standpoint, how do we disperse those out? To be able to do that because we can’t respond to all six lines at one time, we only have three people here on the shift.”

25:35 JS: So it comes back into that education, so how do we continuously invest? First is we have to go back and reeducate in some cases. Because planners that go to the class… People will… They’ll go back to the site, they’ll try to plan the schedule, the organization will put the barriers up, prevent them from planning a schedule. Then over time, management changes, and they’ll drift off, the expectations will drift. And so we have to go back and educate people. “Okay, this is what’s important.” Then that coaching and mentoring piece we’ve talked about is where you ask and to really understand that re-investment, assess, do an assessment. We come in on the assessment piece, we look at it and say “Where are you at?” And then based on that we put together a plan with them, and give them a report and say, “Hey, this is what we saw, now how are we gonna fix it?” And that may be something besides addressing the planners and the schedulers, the planners and the schedulers might be fantastic, they’re just not being allowed physically to do work. And that’s a key piece.

26:22 Ryan: I’m curious, going back to this, how do you interview, and find the right maintenance planner and scheduler? It sounds like you really look for that hands-on practical knowledge. What does your typical interview look like to suss out these practical skills? And how realistic is it for someone to be able to come into a new facility and give their own assessment and really know the ins and outs of your facility, your business given so many different nuances?

27:04 JS: Yeah, but when you talk about that Ryan, it’s almost like putting together a CMMS.

27:09 Ryan: Sure.

27:10 JS: You have certain processes. You’re gonna have the S’s and the two B you’re gonna do… And it’s just like in business. We all say that we’re different. And all of us get tickled because in organizations they say, “Oh yeah Jeff, you just don’t understand. We’re different.” But the reality is is yeah, maybe 10% of you are different, but there’s just nuances about you. But those business processes carry on from one organization to the next. In planning and scheduling, while you may use UpKeep or you may use some other software package, the process of planning and scheduling is still the same. And so it’s how do you actually take and say first off, while that question might be a great question, is, “Hey, show me your process.” Most of the time, there’s silence.


27:56 JS: There are no processes. And it’s by the seat on my pants kinda thing. And okay well in that case from an assessment standpoint, you don’t really have them. And if I go to somebody else, and I say, “Hey, how does this work?”, they can’t tell you and say, “Well, we’re just doing it this way.” And I say… And I had this conversation the other day as well, with that same municipal water treatment facility. They said, “What happens if somebody wins the lottery and you disappear out of that job? How do we transition that?” And the reality is there are no processes to transition. So to your point, somebody new comes in, and now they’ve gotta just adapt and figure out through tribal knowledge, this is the way it’s supposed to work. And I always like to ask this question, and this question is: Do you find experience to be value adders and a good teacher? And the reality is when we look at it in many terms, in many ways experience is a horrible teacher. And I saw one quote one day, and it said, “It teaches you when to cringe. The lesson of experience teaches you when to cringe.” The right lessons in short supply. And I always look at this and I give this example. I say, “Well if I’m the old person and you’re the new person and you come in and they put you with me and I hammer on a bearing with a brass punch. How do you think you’re going to do it?”


29:25 JS: You’re gonna hammer on the brass punch and we’re gonna kill the bearing. Or we’re gonna heat it with a torch. We’ll warp the races. Whatever the case may be. And the same thing happens with planning and scheduling. Because when people say, “Well, let’s shadow the technician. Let’s hire somebody and let them shadow the technician for two years.” This particular technician. The reality is that it took that technician 20 years. There’s no way they’re gonna transfer that knowledge in two. It’s just not gonna happen. So that’s really part of the problem is, is how do we actually document the processes, build the roles and responsibilities already in [29:58] ____ and when we do the interview process as you asked about how do we build those kinds of things into an interview? Even though you’re coming in, you may not necessarily know that particular variant of software. You may not necessarily know that process. But you have mechanical skills or you have electrical skills or whatever the case. And so how can you test for the planning processes? You can take some simple examples of case studies if you would, and you can actually build out hands-on examples of how you might develop the job plan for something relatively simple at the end of the day. It doesn’t have to be equivalent specific for that particular manufacturer.

30:42 Ryan: Yeah.

30:43 JS: It’s how do you do this basic job of planning and scheduling. What does that job plan look like? Does it have safety criteria? Does it have tasks? Does it have materials? Do we have consumables identified? So it all varies.

31:00 Ryan: Absolutely. Well, it sounds like you’ve got that interview process nailed down to T. And I definitely don’t think I would pass if I were being interviewed by you, Jeff. [laughter]

31:10 JS: No, I think you’d be… I think you’d do quite well actually. I have every confidence you would do really well.

31:16 Ryan: I appreciate that Jeff. [chuckle] I’m curious, what are measures of success for maintenance planners schedulers?

31:24 JS: Well, we’ve talked about this Ryan, with earlier with the Gardner wrench time, and so we’re looking for… We’re not trying to actually create an environment where the technicians are working harder. We’re just trying to enable the technicians. And as part of that, the technicians really get upset with, for example, like with the wrench time studies and think, “Oh, they’re watching me or doing someone… ” It’s not about you, it’s not about the technician, it’s about the groups of technicians.

31:51 JS: What are the barriers that are keeping you from doing effective work? Are you not done… Do you not have access to the equipment? Do you not have the right materials? Do you not have the right tools? Do you not have specifications where you can do it the right way the first time? It’s part of it. Those are kind of things we’re trying to find out with wrench time studies. So you see, improved wrench time is one example. But you also see things like MTBF are improving, mean time between failures. You’re getting much more done. You’re putting together a schedule which, by the way, a schedule sets an expectation. That’s what we’re after at the end of the day. We need an expectation. I was reading an article on LinkedIn just the other day and says, “Why do managers want to see schedules?”. Well because it sets an expectation. And it’s really important to have that, so I look for those. I look for things like planner accuracy.

32:46 JS: How accurate are the job plans? And that’s on average. We realize today with regard you may do a job and it takes two hours. You may come back six months and the bolts are rusted and it takes more time because you have to cut ’em off and so it takes you three hours, or it takes you four hours. Well those are the exceptions. In the end, how do you fix those things long term so you don’t continue to have those problems? You know, so those are some of the metrics and, you know, cost is another one. But when we think about it, you know, how’s the planner setting us up for success? What are we doing? What’s the level of detail on the job plans? How was the feedback loop working? You know, what kind of… How long is it taking in the planning process, you know, the target from the time it goes into the planning process because the job is actually planned is five days or less. So those are kind of things we look for from a metric standpoint.

33:38 Ryan: What I hear you saying is the role of success is all about predictability, more so than like, “Hey we want to reduce downtime, we want to redu… ” To me, it sounds like you’re focused on just having predictability and knowing. Does that sound about right?

33:57 JS: It is and I’ll say another thing, predictability and repeatability. Because we are working the process and it’s part it. The planner can’t know everything. They don’t know, they haven’t worked every job, but what’s your process? For example, you may have 30 jobs to plan, but if you can just plan the 30 of them to start with, with crafts, hours and materials, that’s a head start. And then you may plan two or three… We actually pay… We have a feedback form that we have, and we actually put it out on LinkedIn. And as part of it too we put out a question and said, “How many job plans can a planner do in detail?” And we knew from our own experience it was around two or three. And when we put it out to the LinkedIn groups, that’s what we found. And it went all over the world and we built that feedback into the feedback form as well where we share that. And so it was really key. Do the 30 jobs you have to do with the minimal level of detail, but plan two or three more detailed jobs with that level of detail of the specifications, other things from making a precision maintenance type environment or execution, but then allowing the feedback for them. It’s built that… Deliver the job plans. And every time you send out the job plans it’s an opportunity to improve and make it better. There’s no such thing as a perfect job plan.

35:12 JS: So those are some of the keys. Well, like Eric said on the podcasts you did not too long ago. He said, sometimes we try to make planning and scheduling too hard. And that’s true. We do in many cases. And it’s. “How do we make it simple but it’s repetitive and to your point it’s predictable.” We know we’re going to get the same results from push through. We might not get it right the first time, but maybe this work is repetitive. Today, we work on it, a year from now where we’re going again, so how do we capture that knowledge? I’ll share with you too. I was at a chemical plant or pump shop, and all the old people had retired out except for one, and they were bringing in these new young people. Just like we’re talking about here, how do you bring these people up and in from technician level or whatever it takes to get them to that level. They were rebuilding these pumps and these pumps were going out and… They would test some of them, not very well, obviously, and they would put them into the stock room and, and two months later or something they might replace them and they’d only run for like a month or two, and then they would fail. They had to go back and rework and develop precision procedures necessary within that shop.

36:26 JS: That’s part of the role that planners, how do we develop this precision procedures, so that we can eliminate some of those defects that we actually introduced. You know, we talked about reliability, the ability to… That the asset will perform ascertained functions for a stated period of time under stated conditions. And inherent reliability is what you get from the design of that, but the operational reliability is where we install it, we maintain it, we operate it, and that’s where the planner plays a big role is how do we not introduce new defects and to the reliability issues that we already have within that asset?

37:04 Ryan: Well, Jeff, I learned so incredibly much through this brief conversation with you. Last question to wrap things up, what’s something you wish more people knew about this industry?

37:16 JS: Oh man, I have a laundry list with regard to that. But the first one is really how equipment fails and how to develop a legally defensible strategy, reliability strategy for your assets. And that really goes back to RCM; Reliability Centered Maintenance and with regard to that, people think that they struggle with that I call it a resource consuming monster. And the reality is it’s not. If you’re properly trained and you understand how to execute, it is a fantastic tool to help you develop strategies. And I go in and I sit down with an organization and do conference presentations, do all these things, educate executives, the whole nine yards. And the one of the first questions I talked about, even in Planning and Scheduling class is, How does equipment fail? And you can put up the bathtub curve, you know, kind of like this and they say, “Oh, yeah, that’s how it fails.” Well, no, only a small percentage of equipment fails that way. It just ranks if the failure’s random. But Moubray came out with this in 1984 and RCM to you know, Nowlan and Heap in ’78. So it’s not new stuff, you know, but yet we don’t have the basics down. I actually call it forward to the basics. Our team is one piece, then we have proper lubrication practices as part of that as well.

38:36 JS: I was actually at another site, and they were working on jockey pumps and I happened to come by, come by the lubricator, he’s lubricating those, and he’s new in the role. And I noticed he didn’t pull the purge flow on the motors. And I’m like, “How often you lubricate?” And he says, “Well every time I come by about once every two or three months I hit it with a couple shots.” And I said, “Well do you pull the purge plugs?” And he said, “What purge plugs?” And I showed him and he’s like, “Wow.” And then while we’re having this conversation one of the electricians goes by, and he says, “Jeff, what do you mean he lubricates those motors?” And I said, “Well he’s a lubricator.” He said, “We don’t lubricate these motors, we’re the electrical guys, we lubricate electric motors, like you guys, you’re just filling the wires with grease. So lubrication’s a real piece.” And then storerooms, work execution, all the things related to planning the schedule. I’ve been in the storerooms where they had probably a million dollars worth of inventory, and nothing was labelled on the shelf. And asked the question, “You guys have got this [39:34] ____ right?” And they say, “No, we don’t have [39:36] ____.” Well you got it on a spreadsheet, right?” “No we don’t have it on a spreadsheet.”

39:39 JS: And I said, “Really?” And I said “What’s your [39:42] ____ today?” “We have no clue.” And I said, “Well how do you know when you need to order more?” And they said, “Well, what we do is we just have a technician tell the admin person and she just orders more.” And I’m like, “Really, what’s the matter with you? I mean, this is crazy.” So, you know, those are some basic things. And in the CMMS you know, we implement a lot of CMMSs. Actually I should say we re-implement a lot of Computer Maintenance Management Systems when they haven’t been done right. And as part of that, you’ll find that there’s no methodology to implement it in the right way. They haven’t set up the equipment hierarchy… In one organization, which was a subway system, your huge organization. And another one I was in just the other day, the equipment hierarchy was flat, just absolutely flat. And I’m like, wow, you know, so that’s not what we’re after at the end of the day. So, you know, again, Forward to the Basics with regard to that, you know, reflect elimination concepts.

40:40 Ryan: Well, Jeff, it sounds like you’ve just got a wealth of wealth of knowledge. Can you share with our all of our listeners, all the ways that they can connect with you to continue learning from People in Process and all the things that you’ve done for the industry?

40:54 JS: Sure. And thank you, Ryan, as well for having the opportunity just to share some of this knowledge and you know, it’s a great thing. How do we leverage it and encourage other people. And this podcast is a fantastic tool to do that. That said, you know, you can find me on LinkedIn, you can obviously find me at [email protected] I’ll share with you, from a resource standpoint, I have about 60 videos on YouTube at the People and Processes channel plus my own channel. And then I also have a blog. Unfortunately, I haven’t updated it in quite some time been quite busy, but a blog at, and people had actually asked questions, and it was called Ask Jeff. They would ask questions and I would respond to that was part of it. So there’s just a few other resources. But if you do a search on Jeff Shiver CMRP or whatever, you’ll find tons of references on Google. So it’s not hard to find me or some of the resources that we have available to you at all.

41:51 Ryan: Awesome. Thank you so much, Jeff. Thank you for everything that you do for the industry. And thanks for joining us on this podcast. Thanks to our listeners for tuning in to today’s Masterminds in Maintenance. My name is Ryan, I’m the CEO and founder of UpKeep You can also connect with me on LinkedIn or email me directly at [email protected] Until next time thanks so much.

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