What Is a Work Order? 6 Steps for The Perfect Work Order

Work orders are the engine of your maintenance operation. They power your team and move work from point A to point B. But there are millions of engines in the world, from rusted duds to high-powered studs. This article is about mastering the maintenance work order so your operation can run as smooth as a luxury sports car.

What is a work order?

A work order is a document that provides all the information about a maintenance task and outlines a process for completing that task. Work orders can include details on who authorized the job, the scope, who it’s assigned to, and what is expected.

Work orders are the engine of your maintenance operation. They power your team and move work from point A to point B.

Work orders are crucial to an organization’s maintenance operation. They help everyone from maintenance managers to technicians organize, assign, prioritize, track, and complete key tasks. When done well, work orders allow you to capture information, share it, and use it to get the work done as efficiently as possible.

Work order vs work request

While a work order and work request sound similar, they have a few key differences. A work request is used by non-maintenance staff to make the maintenance team aware of a task. For example, a machine operator might submit a work request when equipment breaks down. The work request is reviewed by a maintenance manager, who adds extra information, schedules the task, and assigns it to a technician. The work request is now a work order.

Types of work orders

There are five main types of work orders used in CMMS software, including general work orders, preventive maintenance work orders, inspection work orders, emergency work orders, and corrective maintenance work orders. Below are details of each type of work order and when to use them.

General work order

A general work order includes maintenance tasks that do not fall under the category of preventive maintenance, inspection, emergency, or corrective maintenance work orders. General work orders may include tasks like setting up new equipment, taking down equipment no longer in use, or painting.

Preventive maintenance work order

Preventive maintenance (or preventative maintenance) work orders are scheduled routine maintenance that is done on assets to prevent costly equipment failure and unplanned machine downtime. Preventive maintenance falls between reactive maintenance (or run-to-failure ) and predictive maintenance. Preventive maintenance work orders include resource requirements, instructions, checklists, and notes for each task. They are also put on a schedule to ensure the maintenance task is performed at a specific time interval.

Inspection work order

An inspection work order indicates when a maintenance technician needs to audit or inspect the condition of an asset. This is usually based on a predetermined period of time, similar to preventive maintenance work orders. During an inspection, a maintenance technician may identify a problem and then create a new work order to correct that problem.

Emergency work order

An emergency work order is created when an unplanned asset breakdown occurs and needs to be repaired right away. An emergency work order records and tracks reactive maintenance that is performed. The maintenance technician can add details in the work order about why the asset resulted in the unexpected breakdown, what maintenance work was done on it, and information on how to prevent the breakdown from happening again.

Corrective maintenance work orders

A corrective maintenance work order is created when a maintenance technician discovers issues while conducting preventive maintenance, inspection, general, or emergency work order tasks. Corrective maintenance is performed to identify, isolate, and solve the issue so that the equipment, machine, or system can be restored to its correct condition. Unlike an emergency work order, a corrective maintenance work order is planned and scheduled because the failure was identified in time. A corrective maintenance work order may consist of repairing, restoring, or replacing equipment or equipment parts.

What is the work order lifecycle?

Every maintenance work order has a lifecycle with three main phases – creation, completion, and recording. These phases can be broken down into six steps, including task identification, requesting a work order, scheduling the work order, assigning and completing the work order, documenting and closing the work order, and analyzing the work order to help improve the process for next time. Understanding each step and having a solid work order process ensures tasks don’t get stuck in one phase and turn into backlog.

work order process flow

How to write a good work order in six steps

Step #1: The task is identified

Maintenance tasks fall into two groups, planned maintenance and unplanned maintenance. Planned maintenance encompasses all the jobs you know of ahead of time, like routine inspections, and unplanned maintenance includes all the tasks you can’t foresee, like an unexpected breakdown.

Step #2: The maintenance request is created

The details of the job are put together and submitted to the maintenance team for further action. For example, when a machine breaks down, an operator creates a work request and submits it to maintenance. If a task is planned, a work order is created and triggered at the proper time.

Step #3: The work order is prioritized and scheduled

Some jobs are more time-sensitive than others. A burnt-out light bulb doesn’t need to be fixed immediately, but a broken conveyor belt might. That’s why you need to prioritize every work order that hits your desk.

After prioritizing, it’s time to schedule. Work orders can be scheduled based on a set deadline, planned maintenance triggers, or dedicated blocks of time. Setting a deadline keeps everyone accountable and informed so nothing falls through the cracks.

Step #4: The work is assigned and completed

It’s time to turn those words on a page into action. The work order is assigned to a technician, who completes the task. This can be a five-minute check of equipment, or it can be a complex repair job that takes several days.

Step #5: The work order is closed and documented

Once all the terms of the work order are completed, it can be closed. Managers may need to sign off on the work order for compliance requirements. Once closed, the work order is filed away. A properly organized work order log is crucial for building asset histories, reviewing past solutions, preparing for audits, and more.

Step #6: The work order is analyzed and/or reworked

Closed work orders contain valuable information. They can provide insight into your processes and systems that can be used to fine-tune your operation. Having a work order log also allows technicians to quickly spot any missed steps or alternate solutions if an issue flares up again.

What should be in a work order?

A good work order will have 16 different sections to provide the necessary details for maintenance workers to effectively understand and complete the task at hand. The 16 components are listed below. Work orders are like anything else your facility produces – they must be made well and free of defects. If one part of the process is off, it can affect the entire line.

  • Asset: What piece of equipment needs work?
  • Description of issue: What’s the problem? What did you hear, see, smell, or feel at the time of failure or leading up to it?
  • Scope of work: What work is required to get the job done? What skills are needed?
  • Parts and tools required: Are there any parts that need to be replaced or special tools that need to be used?
  • Health and safety notes: What safety procedures and equipment are needed? Have there been any accidents or near-misses while working on a similar issue or asset?
  • Date requested: When was the work order created and submitted?
  • Requester name/department/contact: Who created and submitted the work order?
  • Expected completion date: When should this work order be completed?
  • Actual completion date: When was the work order completed and closed?
  • Expected hours of work: How many hours should it take to complete the work order?
  • Actual hours of work: How many hours did it take to complete the work order?
  • Task checklist: Is there a step-by-step guide to completing the required work?
  • Priority: How important is this work order? High, medium, or low?
  • Assigned to: Who will be doing the work? Is more than one person required? Is an outside contractor required?
  • Associated documents: Are there resources that can help the work order be completed more efficiently, like SOPs, manuals, diagrams, videos, asset history, purchase orders, or images?
  • Notes: Are there any other observations that might be helpful in completing the work order or reviewing the work order after it closes, such as the frequency of an issue, troubleshooting techniques, or the solution reached?

5 best practices for managing a work order

Just like company assets, work orders also need standard operating procedures (SOPs) to give you a baseline for creating, reviewing, and optimizing maintenance tasks. Five best practices for improving the management of your work orders are to establish your maintenance goals, KPIs, and maintenance metrics, define roles and responsibilities, decide on work order frequency, build work order triggers, and conduct work order post-mortems.

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

Before setting up your work orders, it’s necessary to know what information you want from them. You can follow a four-step framework for this. First, start by identifying your organization’s maintenance goals. Second, define your maintenance KPIs so you know what needs to be quantified. Third, identify your team’s metrics and what they should be measuring. Fourth, use this information to guide your maintenance strategy.

#2: Define work order 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 work order frequency

The frequency of when you should perform maintenance work will vary depending on the equipment and the operation it is performing. You can follow the manufacturer guidelines to help determine scheduled frequency and inspection so that assets do not fail unexpectedly. Creating a preventive maintenance schedule will help protect against costly reactive maintenance.

#4: Build work orders triggers

Determine the best way to trigger work orders automatically within your operational processes. 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. There are five common types of maintenance triggers include breakdown, time-based, event-based, usage-based, and condition-based. It’s important to understand when and how to use each one to achieve maximum efficiency and reliability at your facility.

#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.

5 benefits of using work order management software

Overseeing all the maintenance tasks across your company is definitely a challenge. Regardless of best efforts in trying to keep up with manual tasks, there will always be things that fall threw the cracks. Work order management software benefits maintenance technicians and facility managers by bringing overall efficiencies into operations. Five benefits of using work orders to manage maintenance tasks include having a centralized system where all the work order details can be found, no more need for paperwork, better budgeting and planning, easy access for maintenance workers, and regulatory compliance.

#1: You get one centralized system for all maintenance tasks

Work order management software allows you to create and track maintenance tasks all in one place. That means only one source to reference versus having to look through multiple systems to find the necessary information. With work order management software, maintenance teams can handle multiple tasks at a time, like assigning labor hours, estimating and monitoring labor and parts costs, and keeping track of safety procedures and downtime. With all work order information in one place, it becomes easier to schedule and prioritize orders according to need and urgency.

#2: You reduce your paperwork

Work order management software is able to record information automatically. As soon as you enter data into the work order, it gets saved by the system. This eliminates the need to manually enter data into paper records. In addition, maintenance technicians have 24/7 access to all the necessary work order information on their mobile devices or computers. Work order management software helps you save time by eliminating the need to sift through piles of files or clipboards in search of specific information. The system provides real-time tracking and record keeping throughout the work order process.

#3: You’re able to budget and plan more accurately

Work order management software provides a treasure trove of real-time data that enables you to accurately measure maintenance performance. Work orders keep track of every part of the process, including what work needed to be done, who did it, what did it cost, and how long did it take to complete. Having a work order management system is vital for keeping your records accurate and up-to-date. Using this information, you’re able to plan and budget better in order to reduce or eliminate stoppages and interruptions.

#4: You have easy access to information whenever you need it

Work order management software enables maintenance technicians to access work order information at their fingertips. Whether by mobile, laptop, or desktop computer, the information goes where they go. That means they have work order access no matter where they are conducting maintenance, such as in the factory or in the field.

#5: Easy to maintain regulatory compliance

Work order management software is required to comply with both national and international regulatory standards. All the work is already incorporated into the software, so this reduces the amount of time and paperwork it takes your maintenance team to prepare for an audit. Instead of getting stressed and spending hours in preparation, all you need to do is generate reports of previous work orders done through the system. In the long run, compliance becomes easy to trace and reduces exposure to noncompliance penalties.

Learn how to build work orders easier with software

Work order software vs pen and paper

Pro

Work orders have been managed with pen and paper since the day they were invented. Written work orders are cost-effective and familiar. Paper is a tool everyone is comfortable using. It takes next to no training, the upfront costs are fairly low, and there’s a paper trail for when you need to check past work.

Con

However, this system has some serious flaws. Paper files are easily misfiled, lost or damaged. They are cumbersome and take time to find, retrieve, and sort. Inaccurate information is more likely to make its way onto a work order as details are often recorded after an incident. Response time to work requests is also slower. These factors, combined, make work less efficient and could cost you a lot of money down the line.

Some jobs are more time-sensitive than others. A burnt-out light bulb doesn’t need to be fixed immediately, but a broken conveyor belt might. That’s why you need to prioritize every work order that hits your desk.

Work order software vs whiteboards

Pro

Whiteboards are another old standby for maintenance departments. The cost of materials doesn’t stretch the budget too far and it’s certainly easy to have all work orders available to view and update in one, central place.

Con

Like pen and paper, whiteboards have some severe limitations. Keeping records is a huge headache and it’s extremely difficult to extract information from any records you actually manage to get. This makes it almost impossible to create asset histories, prepare for audits, and build work order reports. The work order management process also gets bogged down as operators and technicians need to go to a central location to submit or view work requests.

Work order software vs excel spreadsheets

Pro

Excel spreadsheets are a step up from pen and paper and whiteboards. It makes records digital, so files are less likely to be damaged or lost. It’s also easier to search for information and create reports using this information.

Con

But while spreadsheets raise the bar slightly, there are some factors that make it a shaky foundation for managing maintenance work orders. Some spreadsheets are locked into single computers, which makes it difficult to see up-to-date information on a work order. Even if they are cloud-based, spreadsheets don’t have the ability to automatically trigger work orders, which makes preventive maintenance extremely difficult to achieve. Inputting data and creating reports require long periods at a computer and know-how. There’s also a limited ability to track the progress of work orders, which leaves you a step behind.

Work order software vs CMMS software

Pro

Work order software is a stand-alone solution to creating and managing work orders. It ensures maintenance departments can assign work efficiently so it can been completed in a timely manner. Work order software also creates comprehensive work histories for each asset, and offers real-time updates on completed work and scheduled work. Many vendors also offer a mobile solution through an app, making it easier to document work correctly in real-time and make informed decisions on the spot.

A computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) goes beyond basic work order management, and also includes a scheduled maintenance planner, asset profiles and management, and inventory management.

Finally, one of the biggest advantages of computerized maintenance management systems is their use of mobile and cloud technology. This kind of maintenance work order software allows everyone in maintenance to create, track, complete, and analyze tasks in real-time, from anywhere—whether that’s at the scene of a breakdown or a beach in Hawaii. Technicians can bring work orders, asset histories, documents, and images wherever they go. They are also notified of new work orders as soon as they are submitted or triggered. Reports mine the data in maintenance work orders for cost, efficiency, and other metrics. For those outside of maintenance, submitting a work request through a CMMS can give them a greater sense of ownership over that work. They can track the status of their requests and it eliminates duplicate work orders. This is a key way to grow TPM at your facility and reduces the need to get updates or clarification on the task.

Con

While CMMS software is the way of the future, it comes with costlier upfront prices, requires exceptional training and culture to make the system successful, and often necessitates more advanced maintenance techniques. However, the long-term benefits of the system more than make up for any initial shortcomings. To learn more, read our blog detailing the top 20 benefits of a CMMS.

The bottom line

Work orders are a pillar of great maintenance. When managed properly, they give your team the stability and structure it needs to be efficient. A well-built maintenance work order and work order process makes it easier to establish a preventive maintenance program and react to unplanned maintenance. Roles are defined, workflows are smoother, tasks are tracked, and information is well-documented. Choosing the right tools and systems to manage work orders is the crucial final piece of the puzzle. When it all comes together, your operation can master the fundamentals of maintenance and look for new ways to grow and succeed.

Source: https://www.fiixsoftware.com/blog/work-order/

12 ways to implement a TPM strategy using your work orders

What happens when the maintenance team is the only one that cares about maintenance?

There might not be a more common, or truer, saying in the world of sports than, “Defense wins championships.”

Although there are no championships to win in business, there are quotas to hit and money to make. And defence still matters. In this case, defence means maintenance. But when the maintenance team is the only one playing defence, they’re outnumbered and the losses pile up.

A faulty part goes unnoticed and causes a breakdown. That’s a loss. A machine isn’t lubricated properly and results in waste. Loss. A PM is missed and an accident happens. Another loss.

But a lot of these losses can be avoided with total productive maintenance. Total productive maintenance (TPM) is a defence-first mentality for business. The work order process is one of the cornerstones of this strategy. This article will explore how to create and optimize that process with TPM in mind.

What is total productive maintenance: A brief primer on TPM

Total productive maintenance is the idea that everyone has a part to play in improving the performance and quality of systems with maintenance. That includes the maintenance team, but also operations, production, finance, and other departments. When you have 100 eyes peeled for possible equipment failures or safety hazards instead of five or 10, they’re easier and more efficient to catch and fix.

An example of TPM in action would be an operator doing routine maintenance, like basic lubrication, or a plant manager creating an asset management policy. Neither person is on the maintenance team, but both use maintenance to have a direct impact on the health and performance of equipment.

There’s a lot more to TPM than we can fit in this article. If you want to read more, check out these articles on getting started with TPM and putting a TPM plan into action.

12 ways to use work orders to build a successful TPM program

How to get operations involved TPM

Work orders are the bread and butter of maintenance which also makes them essential for a good TPM program and getting operators involved in maintenance success.

  1. Find a starting line: Work out the wrinkles in your TPM program by starting small. Focus on one machine or area of your plant. Look for equipment with a low criticality that requires regularly scheduled maintenance. Split the responsibility of the PM between maintenance and operations.
  2. Designate a maintenance type for operators: This creates clear roles and responsibilities and allows you to track where extra training, information, or resources are needed to help operators be successful.
  3. Write bullet-proof work request templates: Be very clear about what information is needed to help technicians complete a job. Operators will gain a better understanding and appreciation for what goes into maintenance.
  4. Write a template for completion notes that leaves no room for error: Break this section of a work order into specific fields that helps you document exactly what happened on the job. Operators will be able to spot useful information in past work orders much easier. It will also make training requirements easier to create.
  5. Build solid task lists: Find a balance between being detailed in your tasks and overwhelming operators with too much. Adding pictures helps you avoid information overload. Providing estimated times for each task is an extra bit of guidance that operators will appreciate.
  6. Add as many visual aids to work orders as you can: In addition to pictures, add diagrams or videos if your operators are accessing the work order from a mobile device.
  7. Highlight success with work order data: There might be resistance to your TPM program at first. There’s a lot of data in your work orders that help you prove that it’s worth it. Even something as simple as having fewer reactive work orders tells a story. Fewer breakdowns mean more throughput and less waste from post-failure startups.

How to get the rest of your organization involved in your plan

  1. A true total productive maintenance strategy doesn’t stop at the edge of the production floor. It reaches into the offices of almost everyone at your company. Here are a few ways you can start bringing more and more people into the TPM fold.
  2. Assist in design and/or procurement: Use common maintenance types and failure codes, along with request and completion notes, to help reliability and purchasing personnel build or buy equipment that won’t repeat the failures of past assets.
  3. Advocate for more resources: Presenting a list of backlogged work orders, its labor hours, and the cost of not doing the work can help you highlight the scale of problems and convince your boss that you need some extra help.
  4. Make maintenance accessible: Integrate your work order request system with the systems that everyone in your business uses, like email or Slack.
  5. Identify inventory efficiencies: Use work order data to find out if the same parts cause breakdowns or failed inspections. Work with inventory personnel to find the root cause of the problem and solve it.
  6. Celebrate your success: If you want people to c`are about maintenance, you need to prove it’s worth their attention. Work orders are a great source of success stories. They can help you draw a link between scheduled maintenance and failure prevention or clean start ups and higher production.

Everything you just read in three sentences

  1. Talk with members of every group using work orders, from requesters in finance to operators, and find out how to make instructions and templates clear and accessible to each of them.
  2. Piloting your TPM strategy on a small area of your organization will help you identify where it needs to be improved and how to scale the project moving forward.
  3. Tracking good results from your work orders, no matter how small, will increase buy-in for your TPM program, or, in other words, bragging is the surest path to success.

Source: https://www.fiixsoftware.com/work-order-academy/how-to-implement-a-tpm-program-using-work-orders/

Total effective equipment performance: What is TEEP and how you can use it to improve scheduling

There’s a reason people buy toolboxes. While each tool serves its purpose, having only one at your disposal vastly limits what you’re able to achieve. On the other hand, having all your tools allows you to do more and solve a wider range of problems.

Similarly, no maintenance team or plant manager should look to just one maintenance KPI to track and improve production. Multiple maintenance metrics—and categories of metrics—exist because each one provides different information that leads you to take several different actions.

Today, we’re going to take a look at Total effective equipment performance, or TEEP, and how your maintenance team can use it together with OEE and OOE to improve scheduling and output at your company.

What is TEEP?

Total effective equipment performance (let’s call it TEEP from now on) exists in the same family of maintenance metrics as overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) and overall operations effectiveness (OOE). All three metrics take machine performance, quality, and availability into account to measure overall equipment performance. Where these metrics differ lies in how they define availability.

On its own, TEEP measures your total potential for equipment capacity. It defines availability as a function of all available time—365 days a year, 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. When you measure TEEP, you’re asking, “How much could we potentially be producing if there were no limits to scheduling?”

TEEP Formula

TEEP is calculated by multiplying performance, quality, and availability, where availability is defined as current production time divided by all available time.

For example, if you ran a machine 24/7 for a week and it produced perfect products without stopping once, TEEP would be 100%. If that same machine ran 16 hours a day without stopping, availability would be 67% (16 hours divided by 24 hours). Let’s say it also operated at 90% of potential throughput (performance) and produced perfect products 88% of the time (quality). The asset’s TEEP would be 53% (0.9 x 0.88 x 0.67).

Of course, no plant is ever running on a 24 hours a day, 365 days a year schedule. This is why TEEP is useful when compared to the other metrics in its family.

How TEEP compares to OEE

As a metric, TEEP is most closely related to OEE, so let’s distinguish between these two metrics first.

While TEEP measures an asset’s potential capacity, OEE measures an asset’s current level of productivity. It’s calculated, much like TEEP, by multiplying an asset’s availability, performance, and quality, where availability is calculated as the total run time of the asset divided by the planned production time of that asset.

TEEP vs OEE

OEE differs from TEEP in that it is rooted in the reality of the current production schedule. It supposes that the maximum amount of time that a piece of equipment can run cannot be greater than what it already is.

Because OEE is a current-state metric, it gives production teams and operators a pretty accurate read on how well their equipment is performing, and whether any changes to availability, performance, or quality could increase capacity. Because OEE is closely tied to production, it’s a metric that many facilities monitor in real-time to determine whether any improvements could be made.

How TEEP compares to OOE

Similar to TEEP and OEE, OOE (overall operations effectiveness) is once again calculated by multiplying performance, quality, and availability, where availability is defined as actual production time divided by operating time.

Operating time includes the planned production time of an asset (like OEE), plus any unscheduled time during which an asset might be taken offline.

TEEP vs OOE

How to use TEEP

Now that we have these metrics—and the differences between them—straight, let’s talk about how they can be used together. We can think of these three metrics as a sort of cascading system, where TEEP measures the total effective (or potential) equipment performance, OOE measures your current equipment performance taking unscheduled time into account, and OEE measures everything as it is right now.

TEEP OOE OEE Comparison

We spoke to Stuart Fergusson, Director of Solutions Engineering at Fiix, to parse out these three scenarios. “TEEP is a couple of steps removed from a true maintenance metric,” he says. “It’s useful at the business level for someone like a plant manager because it helps inform scheduling decisions.”

In other words, calculating TEEP helps you answer questions like, “Should we introduce new shifts? Is it worth it to run through the holidays? What would happen if we ran through weekends?”

Stuart adds that some people are quick to jump to metrics like TEEP because they’re actually not calculating OEE correctly. This happens when maintenance is done during downtime is not counted against OEE. As an example, think of a factory that shuts down during weekends and runs all maintenance during that time. Maintenance time is not being counted against production here, which could give you an inflated sense of what your OEE actually is. If maintenance is counted as planned downtime, you get a very different sense of your OEE and what you’re actually capable of achieving.

Take this example: Let’s say that you calculate your OEE as 90% based on the 5 days a week that your machinery runs. With an OEE that high, it seems like it would be simple to increase capacity without buying any new equipment. But what if you use the downtime on weekends to run all your routine maintenance? That time is not available for more production, because it’s always being blocked off for maintenance, but it’s throwing off your OEE because it’s not being included in the equation.

Stuart suggests calculating OEE, OOE, and TEEP the way you normally would, and then examining the deltas between each metric. By investigating the differences between each metric, you can start to see where changes in scheduling could be made to improve production.

“You could be running your equipment very, very well three days a week, and you would still get a low TEEP score,” he says. “But compared with OEE, you can look at that delta and say, ‘We would have to add X staff members to improve our OEE.’”

How TEEP can help you plan

TEEP can be improved when performance, availability, or quality improvement, and it’s probably most useful when you’re out of ideas for how you could improve your OEE given your current production schedule.

TEEP can be used as a benchmark to compare how you’re currently planning your plant production schedules. Unlike OEE and OOE, it gives you an idea of how much your equipment is sitting unused. Again, Stuart warns that its usefulness has its limits. “You should only ever be tracking and putting a metric in front of people that have the ability to change it,” he says. “There’s nothing an operator can do to affect the total available time. On top of that, they can’t schedule themselves in for another shift.”

But when operators, maintenance teams, and plant managers work together (yes, you’ve heard this before with regards to total productive maintenance), it’s clear how they can use their own metrics (like MTTR for maintenance) to improve overall equipment production capacity. When these functional areas can work together to improve capacity while taking the realities and limitations of the entire operation into account, a holistic picture starts to emerge of what a plant is truly capable of achieving.

source: https://www.fiixsoftware.com/blog/what-is-teep/