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Do Maintenance Planners Actually Do Maintenance Planning?

The answer is that maintenance planners usually do very little maintenance planning and scheduling. A maintenance manager for a large steel mill contacted IDCON a few weeks ago for a consulting assignment.

The maintenance manager said that his maintenance planners had asked if they could have an independent firm investigate how planners time are used.  The reason for the request from the planners were that they felt they were working on the wrong things. IDCON asked the planners to individually record their tasks a few weeks before the visit. We visited the mill in early December 2008 and interviewed planners, supervisors, crafts people and managers and cross referenced our findings with what we saw in the day to day work.  


The mill does a reasonably good job in planning and scheduling.  For example, parts are available to about 97% for all short down days a day in advance and for most day to day work, all maintenance work have work orders, job description exist for complicated jobs, all equipment have equipment numbers, there are scheduling meetings between operations and maintenance a week before a down day where 90% of all jobs are locked to a schedule etc.

The result of the survey was that the planner spent their time as follows:

10% on true planning  
20% on checking reorder quantities for stores
20% on ordering repairs for equipment from the central workshop
10% trying to understand what spare part people need
10% physically looking for spare parts
30% on a variety of task that each took 2-4%

Many of these tasks are the responsibility of other people in this mill.  Some tasks have to be done, but it is not clear who’s responsibility it is.  Some other tasks are add-on tasks each planner likes to do or are good at and therefore end up with them.

The interesting point is that this is a very typical picture in most process plants. How can we expect good planning if the planners have no time to plan? 

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