Scheduling – A Hot Potato?
Improving equipment reliability often comes down to improving basic work systems such as planning and scheduling, preventive maintenance, root cause analysis, technical database, and stores. Preventive Maintenance and maintenance planning are often easy sells in plants because they are not very threatening to people and they make sense to do. Root cause is harder because it requires a level of detail plants often are not used to, but in general, people agree with the concept. The same goes for stores and technical database, who can argue with that a storeroom should be organized and that we should have technical documentation for our equipment?
Scheduling is another matter. When we start to improve scheduling in a plant, it touches everyone in an area and the plant. In order to effectively join a production schedule with a maintenance schedule, we must (honestly) prioritize work. We must stop adding on jobs for the current week unless the jobs are true emergencies. We have to effectively communicate when equipment is down and for how long. We must document a schedule today for tomorrows work, and if we get good at scheduling, we should publish a forecast for the coming week this Thursday. The days of pulling a hourly maintenance person aside for a job that is not a true emergency are over if we implement good scheduling!
Operations and maintenance will have to change their daily routines in order to implement the improved systems mentioned above. Keep in mind that it can be very threatening to people to improve scheduling in your plant.