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Justification of planners

by Christer Idhammar

Planning is here defined as defined as the work done to decide: What work to do, How it will be done and How long time it will take.

Scheduling is here defined as the work done to decide: When to do the work and Who will do it.

Planning shall be done before you schedule work.

You can say that all work is always planned before you do the work. That is a fact. The question is how efficient can this be done?

I have worked with many plants where they have no planners because the maintenance organization was unable to justify a planner(s) position. Here I like to offer some ideas on how we successfully have helped maintenance organizations justify more efficient planning with planners.

With or without planners somebody always does planning of work otherwise the work could not be done. In an organization without planners the following is a typical situation:

(Working hours 07:00 – 15:30)
07:00 – 07:30 Crew arrives and meet with supervisor.
07:30  All have been assigned what to do today.
E.g. “Pump 20-439 does not pump”
07:30 – 08:45 Two mechanics troubleshoot and find that bearing, seal and impeller unit must be changed.
8:45 – 09:00 get rigging tools.
09:00 – 09:15 Morning break.
09:15 – 10:30 Finding parts.
10:30 – 11:30 Arrange rigging.
11:30 – 12:00 Lunch break.
12:00 – 14:00 Disassemble bearing, seal and impeller unit.
14:00 – 15:30 Impeller too big. Machine down to right diameter.
15:30 – 17:00 Install, test and start pump.

In summary the scope of work had to be decided by the mechanics, tools, parts, rigging etc. had also to be decided by mechanics, adjustment of impeller was also decided by mechanics. All of this is PLANNING. The inefficiency in this example lies in that planning was done after scheduling and it must be done the other way around to be efficient.

The other scenario is that the problem with the pump was discovered during an established inspection route a couple of weeks before the problem must be corrected. A planner could then plan the job efficiently. It would take the planner about two hours to prepare all needed for work, arrange for pump impeller to be adjusted etc. The mechanics would then do the work in an organized way in about five maintenance hours instead of  about 20 hours including overtime as in the example above.

We have done hundreds of evaluations of maintenance organizations all over the world and found that without organized inspections and planning followed by scheduling of work crafts people spend 40 – 60 % of their time on “planning activities” as given in the example above. 

Number of Crafts people

% of time they “plan”

Total “planning” hours/day

Target Hours/day

Freed up Time. Hours/day

60

50

240

50

190

In this example the maintenance organization is very reactive and crafts people are put in a situation where they have to “plan” to get the work done. The implementation of basic inspections will change the situation so that a planner can plan before work is scheduled by a supervisor and executed by crafts people. The target is to get down to about 10% urgent work where the situation described in the scenario above would still be repeated. That would free up 190 hours/day from crafts people’s time. To be efficient in work management this organization would need about three to four planners (24 – 32  hours/day). This would enable crafts people to free up 158 – 166 hours/day. The number of planners is very dependent on disciplined priorities of work, access to an updated and accurate bill of materials and close cooperation with operations.

Christer Idhammar is a world-renowned and multiple award winning Reliability and Maintenance Consultant and Guru. He is the Founder and CEO of IDCON, INC in Raleigh NC, USA; A reliability and maintenance training and consulting company to the Pulp and Paper Industry worldwide since 1972.