The link between maintenance and a more sustainable world

This article was written by Katie Allen, Fiix’s Sustainability and Social Impact Manager.

Waste. Garbage. Rubbish. Litter. Trash. Excess. These concepts are relatively new in our modern world. Waste was often synonymous with barren land and had nothing to do with the disposal.

Garbage — the act of throwing something away — was introduced in the early 1900s. Now, it’s a regular part of life— we buy, we use, and then we throw away. This is so common that we have entire waste management systems with teams of people and machinery dedicated to our garbage.

This used to be my job. I would advise the public on where to put items when they were ready to throw them out. I would pick through big, black garbage bags on grueling hot days, dissecting, weighing, and sorting what people threw out. I helped divert hazardous and electronic waste from entering the landfill. I even managed a vermicomposter.

But in all my years doing this work, I never once offered a way for people to fix their stuff so it didn’t need to be tossed out in the first place.

We focused so heavily on reduce, reuse, and recycle that we forgot the most important ‘R’: Repair — the act of looking after your stuff.

We were not the only ones to miss this. It’s not common to receive a maintenance or repair manual when purchasing a product. You often need to search the web to find a community post or a video on how to fix something.

Maintenance and repair is regarded as a mundane practice in our society instead of being recognized as a sustainable approach to product consumption and creation. While we focus on the next, new, shiny thing, we forget the infrastructure, products, and equipment we already have.

The 12th UN Sustainable Development Goal focuses most heavily on addressing this deficit with the circular economy. The goal states that, “Responsible consumption and production” will help us decrease our reliance on natural resources, increase sustainability reporting, reduce waste in all forms, and ultimately encourage lifestyles that are synonymous with nature.

While this is a highly ambitious and admirable goal, they are missing a critical component: Maintenance and repair. Maintenance is the primary method for life cycle management. While it is important to rethink the way we design products (and the machines that make them) and how we recycle them, we need to think about the way we actually use the product. This is key to understanding the circular economy and how we can use it to bolster our efforts for sustainability.

What is the circular economy?

The Ellen Macarthur Foundation is leading research on the circular economy and defines it as a system “based on the principles of designing out waste and pollution, keeping products and materials in use, and regenerating natural systems.”

We are shifting to a system where we design out waste and pollution, keep products and materials in use, regenerate natural systems
Source: https://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/circular-economy/what-is-the-circular-economy

We currently function in a linear economic system based on a take-make-waste model. Many of the resources we extract are used and eventually wasted.

This system is problematic for many reasons. Its inefficiency is wreaking havoc on our natural world with mass amounts of waste and pollution, which also negatively impacts our most vulnerable societies. This system is depicted in the graphic below. It maps all our global resources from extraction to end-of-use. Minerals, ores, fossil fuels, and biomass make up everything from our homes to our food.

As Robert Kunzig points out, “Two-thirds of the material flowing through the economy, 67.4 billion tons in 2015, gets emitted as pollution or otherwise scattered or disposed of as waste.”

While these resources are essential components of our economy, we are witnessing colossal inefficiencies throughout the process resulting in what’s called externalities.

An externality is a cost or benefit of an economic activity experienced by an unrelated third party.

Resources graphic
Source: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2020/03/how-a-circular-economy-could-save-the-world-feature/

Waste, represented by the grey “end of use” bubbles at the bottom of the graphic, is the most obvious negative externality. Other negative externalities include air pollution, emissions, and the wealth gap.

The circular economy is all about accounting for these externalities. We can phase out waste and pollution from the beginning with responsible design. Through maintenance best practices, we can increase the lifespan of assets, keep material in use, and create greater value socially, environmentally, and economically. And through the regeneration of our natural systems, we can create a thriving, circular economy that works within planetary boundaries.

What is maintenance?

Maintenance is the best way to keep materials in use.

Maintenance is any activity—such as tests, measurements, replacements, adjustments, and repairs—intended to retain or restore a functional unit in or to a specified state in which the unit can perform its required functions.1

You can find examples of maintenance in all aspects of your life, from brushing your teeth to changing the oil in your car or washing your dishes. These are all forms of maintenance that keep us and our belongings functioning as intended.

In industrial settings, maintenance is performed through a variety of strategies that best suit the asset in question. Typically, these strategies are applied to some of the biggest machinery and equipment in the world. Some examples include managing air flow and air quality in electrical and HVAC units, replacing filters, cleaning bearings, pumping tires, and fixing conveyor belts, reactors, and pumps. This takes place in factories, food processing, and energy production facilities, data centers, and manufacturing plants.

Maintenance and repair strategies keep many of these operations running efficiently, supporting very large, positive outcomes across the triple bottom line of sustainability: People, Planet, and profit.

Benefits of maintenance

Click image to enlarge:

Benefits of maintenance graphic
Source: https://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/circular-economy/concept/infographic

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation showcases the different elements of the circular economy in the map above, The smaller circles represent the most efficient solutions in terms of cost, materials, and resources.

Here, maintenance makes up the smallest circle, and thus the most efficient and accessible solution. This is because, at its core, maintenance is about keeping the same equipment, materials, and assets in use. With rising costs of raw materials and end-of-life treatment, maintenance becomes a very attractive solution to kick-start the circular economy and build momentum in a more sustainable direction.

In Sobral and Ferreira’s 2018 article, they argue that the fundamental principles of maintenance — continuous improvement, improving performance, and increasing lifespan — are the foundation of Lean Thinking. The main objective of Lean Thinking is to improve society while eliminating waste. Maintenance and efficiency go hand-in-hand, creating positive outcomes beyond just eliminating waste. An effective maintenance strategy can result in improvements across the triple bottom line, as highlighted in the graphic below:

people, planet, profit graphic

Socially, better maintenance practices can improve health and safety, the quality of workplaces, and the local community. In various studies, it has been reported that better maintenance is associated with lower injury frequency, and when done poorly, maintenance accounts for 10% of workplace incidents.

Environmentally, maintenance can improve air quality, reduce emissions, and reduce waste. It can also prolong asset lifespans, reduce energy consumption, and reduce water consumption. A preventive maintenance program can result in 20% savings in raw material usage. In the residential sector, regular maintenance can save up to 35% of energy costs. In vehicles, researchers found a 30% reduction in emissions following maintenance.

Economically, maintenance reduces costs, improves utilization, and aids with compliance. These are the most common indicators of success. In some instances, predictive maintenance can save up to 12% of costs and decrease downtime by up to 45%.

Measuring all the ways in which maintenance has an impact is critical to the success of any organization. Highlighting these efficiencies and giving maintenance the credit it deserves will help advance the circular economy.

Barriers to success

As it stands today, maintenance isn’t prioritized or recognized. The Maintainers, a think tank based in Washington, D.C., have long sung the praises of maintenance and repair. They examine our obsession with innovation and our disregard for the mundane.

Maintenance and repair, the building of infrastructures, the mundane labour that goes into sustaining functioning and efficient infrastructures, simply has more impact on people’s daily lives than the vast majority of technological innovations.

– Andrew Russell & Lee Vinsel

We are so focused on new things, whether physical or conceptual, that we fail to recognize the critical, overlooked, and the underpaid role that maintenance plays in our society. Failing to meet our maintenance needs can have catastrophic consequences. The ongoing cost of maintenance and repair is often undervalued when building infrastructure. That’s when things break, crack, and deteriorate.

In 2019, America’s infrastructure was given a report with a final grade of D+. A team of 28 civil engineers from across the country analyzed everything from energy infrastructure to railways and schools. They found that nearly everything was deteriorating to a point of concern, with most infrastructure approaching the end of its service life.

The impact of this is frightening, costing the US millions of jobs and trillions of dollars in GDP, while externalities are going unmeasured, costing us in pollution and health and safety.

COVID-19 showed us that it’s up to us to keep the world running, and when we stop, we notice. Technical maintenance is often seen as a cost centre rather than an opportunity to save money, time, energy, and waste. The current narrative surrounding maintenance is not exciting, nor is it measured properly, so we don’t understand its full value and potential.

Maintenance and repair need a rebrand and a re-education campaign. It must be considered as a key source of efficiency in the circular economy and we should be placing resources in these areas to understand how to improve practices.

Technology is helping with this rebrand. Tools, like a CMMS, help organizations track, schedule, and organize maintenance activities. Tracking data is critical. Analyzing that data using artificial intelligence can enable companies to find trends and areas for improvement. Utilizing technology can help bring light into what was once a black hole of information.

Driving the circular economy forward with better maintenance

There are three factors at play that will help us advance the circular economy through better maintenance.

First, the maintenance, reliability, and asset management space needs to recognize and prioritize the best sustainability practices from this line of work and measure it. Technology will be critical in capturing this information.

Second, circular economy research and advocacy must incorporate maintenance and repair as critical steps in advancing sustainability.

Lastly, organizations must adopt technology that enables these best practices. Without adequate data collection, measurement, or management, many of these benefits are lost and aren’t accounted for.

We don’t have to reinvent the wheel as we reach for sustainability. We just need to look after what we already have.

Source: https://www.fiixsoftware.com/blog/maintenance-and-sustainability-framework/

Five ways to stretch your maintenance budget further

One of the worst things about getting your maintenance budget cut is all the questions.

Do I need to lay off staff? How can we hit our targets with fewer resources? What projects are essential and what can wait? Is my job safe?

It’s enough to keep you up at night for a while.

We talked to a few experts who’ve been there before. They told us how they managed a smaller maintenance budget while hitting their targets, keeping up with preventive maintenance, and avoiding staff burnout.

How to find extra room in your budget

In your storeroom (Build a just-in-time purchasing process), In your schedule (Eliminate unnecessary PMs), In your work orders (Increase wrench time to boost efficiency), In your processes (Train operators to do routine maintenance), In your people (Crowd-source cost-effective solutions)

#1 – Find it in your storeroom

Pay close attention to your inventory minimums when restocking parts and supplies, says Joe McVay, an Implementation Consultant at Fiix with experience in facility maintenance.

“Many organizations don’t realize how much cash flow is tied up in inventory in the warehouse that could be bought just-in-time from multiple vendors without interrupting the business,” says Joe.

Look for parts in your storeroom that are either not immediately critical or can be easily sourced from vendors with short lead-times. Adjust your purchasing schedule accordingly so you’re not spending money on unnecessary inventory.

Many vendors also offer ‘keep stock’ programs, says Joe. These programs guarantee the availability of parts without adding them to your books until you need them. This gives you short-term flexibility in your budget without the risk.

#2: Find it in your schedule

Preventive maintenance is great, but too much will cost you. You can reduce the cost of labor and parts without sacrificing asset health by cutting unnecessary PMs, says Charles Rogers, Fiix’s Senior Implementation Consultant with over 33 years of experience in maintenance.

“If your regular inspections aren’t finding something wrong with an asset, you can probably do them less often,” says Charles.

He recommends looking first at scheduled maintenance based on OEM guidelines. These PMs are more likely to have room for improvement because they weren’t created with your specific use case in mind. Monitor any PMs you change to make sure failure rates don’t increase.

Using a PDCA model to create the perfect PMs

#3: Find it in your work orders

Increasing wrench time helps you stretch your maintenance budget further, says Rob Kalwarowsky, a Reliability Engineer and Asset Manager.

Rob suggests calculating wrench time for all work, starting with jobs that have higher labor costs. Flag areas where wrench time is low. The average wrench time is 20% and 40% is world-class, says Rob.

“Once you have this baseline you can trace the cause of low wrench time to a root cause and tweak your schedules and processes to bridge that gap,” says Rob.

Increasing wrench time by a few percentage points across hundreds of repairs and PMs can save you thousands of dollars in labor and make up for some of your lost budget. And when maintenance is quicker, production gets more uptime. It’s a win-win for everyone.

#4: Find it in your processes

Your budget gets a little tighter every time a highly skilled technician stops what they’re doing to complete a routine task. That’s why Jason Afara, a Solutions Engineer at Fiix and former maintenance manager, suggests training operators to do routine maintenance.

“Operators know their machines best,” says Jason, “Give them the power to inspect machines…and do light maintenance that would otherwise take up your time.”

Not only will a few hours of training save you money in the long term, but it also helps you catch equipment failure earlier and prevent emergency maintenance, which eats into your budget.

#5: Find it in your people

This is another gem from Rob and it’s all about communication, engaging staff, and leading by example.

“You’re cutting maintenance that [your staff] believe they should be doing,” says Rob. “That’s going to have a negative impact.”

Low morale is more than some extra grumbling in the break room. It creates fear, mistrust, and information gaps, says Rob. When you’re missing the whole picture, you can’t see problems and prioritize work, which is essential after maintenance budget cuts.

“You need to foster a low-fear, high-trust environment so people can tell you exactly what’s happening on the shop floor,” says Rob.

Here are some ways to do that:

Book a regular meeting with staff to talk about concerns, roadblocks, solutions, and successes. It might take time for everyone to feel comfortable sharing. That means you could be the only one talking for a little while.

Stop playing the blame game. If a critical work order wasn’t done on time, talk to your technicians, find out what held them back, and think of a way to prevent it from happening again.

Create metrics that have nothing to do with efficiency. Your technicians need to know they’re being measured on how well they collaborate, identify problems, and work to find solutions. It tells your team that you care about them as much as the bottom line.

How to convince your boss to increase the maintenance budget

Getting a bigger maintenance budget is tough, but not impossible. We put together a few tried and tested strategies that other maintenance teams have used to score extra resources. They’ll help you change minds, make your case, and get the budget you need.

After you’ve read the strategies below, nail your pitch with this presentation template

Using backlog metrics to hire more people

If you’re strapped for cash, you’re probably also strapped for time. That means backlog. Lots of backlog. The good news is, it’s easy to get people on board with fixing this problem if you have the right data.

Start by tracking your preventive maintenance backlog in hours. Compare this number to the available hours for your workforce to determine the gap between the two.

The next step is to show how backlog impacts the business. Track mean time between failure and the cost of breakdowns. When MTBF goes up because you’re missing maintenance, it means more downtime and less production.

Use this data when you’re asking for the budget to hire an extra person, offer more overtime, or spend more on contractors. This is what worked for Tom Dufton, a maintenance and project manager at food manufacturer Perth Country Ingredients:

Get a six-step framework for tackling maintenance backlog

Using clean start-ups to justify higher labor costs

Other areas of your business suffer when the maintenance budget is cut. Your staff is spread thin, work is rushed (or missed), and equipment fails. Tracking clean start-ups is one way to prove this and get the extra cash you need to prevent it.

Clean start-ups was a key metric for Stuart Fergusson, Fiix’s Director of Solutions Engineering, during his time as a production line manager at Proctor and Gamble. This KPI not only united maintenance and operations, but also tied directly to financial targets. That always gets people’s attention.

Unfortunately, clean start-ups are hard to achieve without the time, people, and resources to do proper maintenance, which takes money.

Making your case for this money starts with calculating the cost of lost time and production from poor start-ups for all machines across a full year. Compare this to the lower cost of extra people and resources to achieve clean start-ups.

Using time tracking metrics to show the ROI of technology

Administrative tasks waste time and money. If your technicians spend an hour a day writing work orders, that’s an hour of lost efficiency you’re paying for. So while it might seem cheaper to do everything by hand instead of with technology, it’ll cost you more in the long run.

Things like sensors and CMMS software come with a price tag. Getting an increase in your maintenance budget for these purchases starts with tracking the amount of time your team spends on administrative tasks. Then find out how much time you’d save with software.

The final step is to highlight how you would use this extra time and the impact that would have on company targets. For example, if you were able to do one more PM per day, how much more uptime could the company gain.

This was the strategy used by the maintenance team at Rambler Metals & Mining. The company was able to slash the time spent on administrative tasks by 15% after implementing a CMMS. They were able to do more preventive maintenance and reduce equipment failure.

Everything you just read in three sentences

1. Eliminating waste, whether it’s parts you don’t need or delays in your work, is crucial when dealing with maintenance budget cuts.

2. Don’t forget to communicate with your team, include them in decision-making, and be open to feedback so you can avoid a toxic work environment.

3. If you’re asking for an increase in your maintenance budget, lean on numbers to prove the value of maintenance and highlight what your company is losing by not investing in maintenance.

Source: https://www.fiixsoftware.com/blog/five-ways-to-stretch-your-maintenance-budget-further/

How to Plan and Schedule Work Orders Like the Best Maintenance Teams

What happens when work order plans go wrong

The maintenance team at Century Aluminum was fighting an uphill battle from day one.

“The philosophy has been, ‘It’s what goes out the door that counts,” said millwright Linda Sibley in this interview with Reliable Plant, “not how well the machinery is running.”

Pumping out product, equipment health be damned, was obviously not a sustainable model. It fueled a culture of reactive thinking, leading to lots of breakdowns, data shortages, low morale, and much more.

“When you are in such a reactive mode, it’s next to impossible to do much planning. It’s all about putting out fires,” said maintenance planner Todd Harrison.

Needless to say, there was a hunger for change. But despite the maintenance department’s best efforts, the preventive maintenance program struggled to get off the ground. The reason progress stalled could be linked back to one thing: Poor maintenance planning and scheduling.

Probably one-third of the PMs are no good,” said maintenance manager Jim Doeffinger. “We waste time doing irrelevant PMs.”

No one wants to constantly take two steps forward and one step back. That’s why this post will go in-depth on best practices and simple frameworks for strong maintenance planning and work order scheduling.

How to get really good at maintenance planning

There are two ingredients you need to be really good at planning work orders:

  1. Clear goals for maintenance that align with the goals of the organization
  2. A way to prioritize maintenance activities based on your goals

All your work processes, schedules, training, and SOPs flow from your goals and priorities.

“You really need to go back to the fundamentals of the organization and find out what they’re objectives are for maintenance,” says Charles Rogers, a Senior Implementation Consultant at Fiix with over 33 years of experience in maintenance and reliability.

Four steps for aligning maintenance goals with business goals

A handy four-step process will help you align the organization’s goals with your maintenance plans:

  1. Confirm the goals of your organization. Your business may be looking to accomplish something really specific, like decreasing the cost-per-item. Or the goal might be a little less tangible, like entering new markets.
  2. Link maintenance KPIs to business goals. If reducing the cost-per-item is the big goal, maintenance could focus on reducing downtime and maintenance costs. If entering new markets is the target, you might want to standardize maintenance processes so they can be repeated at other sites.
  3. Choose your maintenance metrics. Set up metrics and benchmarks so you can track progress and measure success. For example, if you want to prevent unplanned downtime, you might track faults found and fixed through PMs on critical equipment.
  4. Plan maintenance activities to hit your targets. Let’s say your aim is to find problems with critical equipment before they cause failure. In this scenario, you have to figure out what your critical equipment is, how often it should be inspected, and what needs to be included in work orders for those assets.

How to get really good at maintenance scheduling

“Some people think a lot of scheduled maintenance is good and more is better,” says Charles.

“Those people are wrong. Doing PMs for the sake of filling a quota is costly and often increases the chance of breakdowns.”

The number of failed inspections per PM is the true mark of scheduled maintenance success, says Charles. Every problem you catch during a PM is an asset failure avoided.

And that’s the secret to really good maintenance scheduling: The constant tweaking of PM frequencies to find the right balance between too often and not often enough.

How to optimize preventive maintenance frequencies

The PDCA model (Plan, Do, Check, Act) is a framework for finding the right PM schedule over time:

  1. Plan: Create a baseline for PM frequencies by looking at recommended guidelines, repair history, criticality, and usage patterns for an asset.
  2. Do: Follow your plan consistently for accurate results.
  3. Check: Look at failure metrics for each asset to determine if your plan is working.
  4. Act: Fine-tune your PM frequencies based on your findings. Increase the frequency if an asset is breaking down between PMs. Reduce the frequency if your PMs don’t find failures or if the number of breakdowns between PMs is low.

Warning: This process is not quick. It takes a while to go around this cycle and implement improvements. But you will see improvements, including longer MTBF intervals, fewer labor hours, and fewer costs for spare parts and supplies.

How to convince people that maintenance needs to be done

“We would fight operations just to get a little bit of maintenance on a machine,” says Jason Afara, a Solutions Engineer at Fiix, remembering his time as a maintenance manager.

Although the tension between maintenance and operations isn’t going anywhere, a maintenance plan and maintenance schedule can’t reach its full potential without buy-in from production.

“This is where maintenance departments usually fail because they don’t have data to back up their asks,” says Charles.

“You have to be able to prove your case and show evidence that if you don’t do maintenance on schedule, there will be much worse consequences at some point—probably sooner than later.”

Creating a culture that chooses preventive maintenance over reactive maintenance doesn’t happen in a day. It can take years and a lot of conversations with everyone from CEOs to operators for it to stick.

Scheduling around seasonality and sudden production changes

In a perfect world, plans would never change and your maintenance schedule would run like clockwork. But we don’t live in a perfect world. The holiday season can lead to a huge spike in orders. A global recession could completely dry up demand.

When things shift at your company, your maintenance must shift too. One way to stay flexible is with your maintenance schedule. This doesn’t mean abandoning all the plans you’ve put in place. Actually, it’s the opposite, says Charles.

“This is when it’s super critical to understand your asset criticality and asset priorities,” says Charles.

Knowing the needs of each critical asset is what helps you create schedules and justify maintenance windows required to ensure healthy equipment.

“It also becomes very critical to understand how assets need to be shut down and started back up so that they function as best they can in those situations,” explains Charles.

Plan work orders that cover all the nuances of each equipment and each task. Build airtight SOPs with this information so delays don’t make stopping and starting equipment even harder.

Everything you just read in three sentences

  1. Having crystal clear goals for your work orders will give you a clear direction for all your decisions around maintenance planning and scheduling.
  2. Never set your maintenance schedules in stone and always keep looking for ways to optimize each work order so you’re doing it at the right frequencies.
  3. Your work order plans and schedule won’t always be popular with everyone, but having proof that they work will help you justify your strategy and allow you to follow through with it.

Source: https://www.fiixsoftware.com/blog/maintenance-planning-and-scheduling-best-practices/

A short guide to designing work orders for better preventive maintenance, data, and more

How a bad work order can wreak havoc

A few words can make or break a maintenance team. Work orders are proof of that.

“In the past, bad decisions were made because we didn’t have accurate work order information,” said Tim Davison, Asset CARE planner for MillerCoors, in this case study by Reliable Plant.

A failure-prone fan at a MillerCoors site is proof of this. The fan failed three times in 18 months. A vibration analysis had found anomalies a month before the third failure, but maintenance wasn’t scheduled or prioritized before the fan failed.

The lesson: Work orders weren’t set up properly, causing important maintenance to be missed.

If this can happen to one of the world’s biggest brewers, it can happen to anyone. That’s why this article is going back to basics and exploring strategies for creating world-class work orders. It will provide the building blocks for great work order processes, from start to finish.

Five key strategies for managing maintenance work orders

Just like every asset at your company, your work orders need standard operating procedures. SOPs give you a baseline for creating, reviewing, and optimizing every job you do.

#1: Deciding on goals and measurements for your work orders

It’s important to know what information you want from a work order when you set them up. Work order and maintenance metrics deserve their own article entirely, but the chart below will give you a good framework to start from.

#2: Define roles and responsibilities

Create clearly defined roles and responsibilities for each part of the work order process. Outline who can create, assign, prioritize, complete, and review work orders. This will help you avoid duplicate or unauthorized work and miscommunication.

#3: Decide on your work order frequencies

OEMs and the knowledge of veteran staff usually decide the frequency of scheduled maintenance. This can give you a good baseline, but it’s not an exact science. Decide how often to review frequencies so you can spot work you’re doing too often or not often enough.

#4: Build work orders triggers

Outline how work orders can be triggered at your operation. This includes triggers that create the initial work request as well as follow-ups for failed PMs, compliance documentation, or extra work that needs to be done on the asset.

#5: Conduct work order post-mortems

Big projects and big problems deserve hindsight. Create a plan to find what went right and what went wrong on these major jobs. Then apply your learnings to the work order process.

How to create work orders in nine steps

Creating and optimizing work orders means reviewing, tweaking, and optimizing thousands of fields. Pro tip: Start small. Pick one field, review one group of work orders with it, and apply improvements to them as needed. Then move on to the next group.

  1. Naming conventions: These are the labels you use to identify the maintenance type, work order, and asset being worked on. Great naming conventions have three things: Consistency, clarity, and meaning for the people reading them.
  2. Description of issue and scope of work: Be as specific as possible with these fields. Instead of saying that there was a leak, identify how bad the leak is and where it is on the machine. Be clear about the skills, tradespeople, contractors, and permits needed.
  3. Required parts and tools: Add information that can help technicians locate parts or supplies faster parts as well as best practices for using them. Use these lists to build emergency kits for critical equipment that can be accessed quickly after breakdowns.
  4. Health and safety notes: Include a list of required PPE on every work order and note common risks, safety procedures, and accidents/near-misses associated with the work. Add compliance information for equipment where necessary, including follow-up tasks.
  5. Requester and date requested: These fields offer a glimpse into the source of problems. For example, are the right people requesting work? Were there too many requests on one day?
  6. Expected and actual labor hours: Elevate this section by adding the amount of time expected for each task. Cross-reference the notes of completed work orders and zero-in on tasks that took longer than expected so you can tweak processes as necessary.
  7. Task lists and associated documents: Eliminate vague task lists at all costs. Don’t stop at “Lubricate bearing.” Add the type of lubrication and amount. Use every chance you get to attach manuals, SOPs, or other resources that might help to work orders.
  8. Assignment and priority: The priority of the work order and the people it’s assigned to should match the type of maintenance being done. Define exactly what different priority levels mean so everyone on the team is on the same page.
  9. Notes: Work with experienced technicians to add notes to common work orders or failure modes so this knowledge can become standardized and accessible.

How to make maintenance work orders that give you better data

Information from completed work orders is your main tool for optimizing processes. Getting that information can simply mean making a work order field standard (like labor hours or parts used). Other sections require work to ensure you’re getting the data you’re looking for.

  1. Failure codes: Limit the list of failure codes to only the most common ones to avoid “other” becoming the default for technicians short on time.
  2. Completion notes: Every technician has their own way of describing the work they did. Standardize and streamline the process by giving specific prompts or questions. For example, ask if any tasks took longer than expected and why.
  3. Costs: Provide technicians with a template for noting extra resources that were necessary so it’s easy for them to fill out and easy for you to calculate additional costs.
  4. Follow-up actions: Describe the proper follow-up actions for common scenarios, like a fault found during a routine PM. This will streamline the process for technicians, and help you track compliance issues, potential failure, PM frequencies, and more.

Everything you just read in three sentences

  1. Move slowly by starting with work orders you do most often or on assets with the highest criticality.
  2. Consistency is the key to good habits, scalable success, and good, clean data, so make sure all your processes are airtight, like work order templates and follow-ups guidelines.
  3. Balancing clarity and being concise in work orders is key so technicians have all the information they need without being overloaded with extra work they see as nothing but a chore.

Source: https://www.fiixsoftware.com/blog/short-guide-how-to-create-maintenance-work-orders/