From a Maintenance & Reliability Optimization and SAP® PM Utilization Perspective
Written by Daniel van Wyk
To successfully manage a well-defined ‘maintenance planning and scheduling’ work process, it is important to start with the effective and timely identification of equipment problems, followed by the capturing and communication of the information in clear and concise terms. The objective should be clear: The Maintenance Work Identification methods need to support early identification of equipment problems or potential problems, while capturing the issues in an effective manner. This creates timely awareness and maintenance / reliability involvement, thus helping to address equipment issues during the early stages and keeping losses to a minimum.
Addressing Work Identification deficiencies is a good starting point towards an improved Maintenance Planning and Scheduling model. Visibility to equipment problems is essential and dealing with existing problems starts with early Work Identification and Notification Entry.
So what are the typical deficiencies that need to be addressed?
Work Not Identified
Often organizations do not have clearly defined work identification methods in place, meaning there is very little structure and responsibility in place to help identify equipment, safety and process issues. The focus is mostly on entering Work Requests for equipment problems that need attention immediately or in the very near future. As a result, a large percentage of existing problems are simply not identified.
Work Identified but Ignored
It is also often the case that work or problems are identified, however, the priority and possible consequences are considered as low or insignificant. These jobs are not entered into the CMMS/EAM system until the problem escalates to a high-risk and high-priority issue. It is also due to distrusting maintenance to turn the work around quickly enough. Why bother giving them any additional work if it will simply slow them down even further? Then there is the common problem that seems to plague us these days: a lack of discipline and structure, where people will simply ignore identified work because they can and any consequences for noncompliance are just not considered.
Lack of Description
Specific, clear and concise work requests outlining the problem and the equipment involved may only exist in a few cases, and are often restricted to one or two individuals within an organization. Work Requests are usually written in very general and vague terms. Most people on the receiving end cannot understand the problem as described, or which equipment is involved or where the equipment is located. The description mostly outlines a suggested repair or fix, which may be the incorrect remedy for the problem at hand. It normally takes days just in follow-up, to gather the additional information needed to identify the real problem.
The Incorrect Equipment is Specified
Very often the Functional Location and Equipment structures are incomplete, inconsistent and difficult to navigate. The SAP PM users have a hard time finding the appropriate equipment or functional location records, to the point that they allocate requests to general catch-all functional locations when writing notifications, for example ‘piping general’, or ‘pumps in general’ or ‘facilities’.
Poorly Defined and Communicated Standards
It is absolutely essential to have a well-defined work identification process and standards in place. A common occurrence is to have the work identification process loosely defined, along the lines of ‘enter a maintenance notification when a problem develops’. This leaves it up to each group and end user to define his or her own approach.
Lack of Training and Coaching
Frequently the individuals who enter maintenance notifications into SAP PM never receive any training and coaching, or at least anything meaningful, yet they are expected to write quality notifications. Most are fighting their way through the system’s screens and functions and create their own entry approach. Then, once they had saved the notification record, they have no idea how to retrieve it to track the request status or make any additions / changes.
Incorrectly Prioritized Work
We all know that the prioritization of work is often more emotional than risk based, and frequently with good reason. One reason is because production personnel do not have much confidence in the backup equipment. They have no reason to. For example, backup pumps don’t not always start up, or fail soon after the switch took place. This drives the commonly found emotional behavior of assigning a high priority to fixing the failed equipment even if there is a backup. After all, the main focus is to have the means to produce, not to save on maintenance work and cost.
Another reason: It is often believed and experienced that maintenance will not take the request serious enough unless an emergency or urgent priority status is assigned. This is typical for organizations with high break-in levels. The danger lies therein that the larger the pool of work that already carriers a high priority is, the worse the chances are that any work with a lower priority will get done and true emergencies get lost in crowd.
Having structure and training around the work identification process is very important to allow for the optimization of your Maintenance Planning & Scheduling process. It starts by improving your Work Identification process. Make it a point to identify, investigate and document the work identification issues that exist in your organization. Talk to people, review the data quality in your SAP PM / CMMS system, and implement or optimize this part of the process until it works.
Feel free to give me your perspective by either posting your comments or contacting us with any questions.
A Maintenance & Reliability Perspective by Quadro Solutions, authored by Daniel Van Wyk