Maintenance Planning and Scheduling-An Indian Perspective

One of the major problems as being faced by majority of the process and manufacturing industry in India is repeated plant and equipment failures. Maintenance personnel are invariably seen involved in fire-fighting most of the time. Frequent machine breakdowns result in loss of production, quality issues, increase in maintenance costs, loss of customers and higher safety incidents. Reactive maintenance takes precedence over proactive maintenance. As a result health of the assets continues to deteriorate with no signs of revival.

A simple yet most efficient, cost effective and time tested approach to eliminate such problems would be to follow Maintenance Planning and Scheduling. Unfortunately a very high percentage of the companies in India including the multinationals haven’t yet realized the importance of this simple methodology. Many of such companies still believe that they are following world class reliability and yet continue to operate in a reactive mode. While a few have managed to introduce planning and scheduling in their plants, the quality of the process followed is far from satisfactory. In fact the concept of planning has been grossly misunderstood. What is being practiced by most of such companies in reality is more of scheduling rather than any planning.

Maintenance planning and scheduling is the process of identifying, prioritizing and organizes work so that it can be executed in the most efficient manner. The principle revolves around getting the right people with the right tools, spares, services and information at the right place at the right time so as to execute the work the right way. The term planning deals with what is to be done, how it is to be done and where is to be done. It involves detailed analysis of the work to be performed, the sequence of tasks involved, methods to implement these tasks, drawings & schematics; resource requirements which include craft , size of the crew, labor hours, tools, spares, materials, supporting equipment etc; permits, safety &statutory requirements etc. Scheduling is who will do the work and when. It is the documented allocation of resources for each of the jobs to be performed on the specific dates/ time finalized in close agreement with operations and materials department. Once put in place, effective planning and scheduling process ensures that all the maintenance work except emergency jobs is properly planned, scheduled and coordinated well in advanced to facilitate quality execution.

Planner plays a critical role in the overall process of planning and scheduling. Hence the planner needs to be qualified, competent and proactive with adequate practical maintenance knowledge & expertise in his domain. He must be proactive, possess good communication skills and be able to maintain good working relationship with all the stakeholders. As a thumb rule, an experienced planner can plan work for 15 to 20 crafts. However for planning to be successful, it is necessary to ensure that the planner is not assigned directly to the line organization or be involved in emergency jobs nor used as a material expenditure or a reliever supervisor.
World Class Maintenance Work Management Process

One of the immediate benefits of implementation of maintenance planning and scheduling is ‘’Wrench Time,, improvement. Wrench time is defined as the actual time spent by a workman doing value added work. The world class standard for wrench time is 60% to 62%. Unfortunately this figure is dismal and often observed to be as low as 22% to 32% as far as most of the companies in India are concerned. It is easy to find a lot of time of the maintenance crew being lost in traveling, waiting and searching spares, tools, materials, permits, services etc. Hence even an half hour job takes more than an hour or two at times. By following planned maintenance, the wrench gets increased well over 50 % to 100% within a span of 6 to 12 months. With increased wrench time, the maintenance execution team is able to carry out all the necessary corrective, predictive, preventive, modifications, safety etc work in time in as required. Consequently there is a momentum shift from reactive to proactive work culture with continuous reduction in asset failures.

As a thumb rule emergency maintenance work is known to cost 3 to 5 times the planned work while unplanned work costs 1.5 to 2 times the planned work. However the benefits of maintenance planning and scheduling are much more than mere cost savings. Some of the major benefits of maintenance planning and scheduling are
• Reduced asset downtime
• Reduced manpower requirements
• Reduction in overtime
• Reduced spares and material inventories
• Improved asset integrity
• Improved plant safety
• Improved maintenance and repair quality
• Improved employee moral
• Improved work relations between departments
• Improved work life balance

Recommendation – It is strongly recommended that the leadership of companies in India having their plants operating in a reactive mode adopt the methodology of maintenance and scheduling. An easy step in this direction would be to appoint the most technically skilled and able maintenance supervisor or craftsman as a planner. Provide him all the necessary support and training to enable him to take on his new responsibilities. Ensure that he is not drawn into day to day maintenance work but plans for future. Have weekly maintenance schedules published after proper planning of all the jobs. Involve operations in compiling and finalizing the weekly maintenance schedule. Formulate and monitor KPIs to measure performance. Above all try to ensure that the people at various levels and disciplines in the organization understand and follow the seven steps of work management as depicted in the above figure—World Class Maintenance Work Management Process.

Conclusion – By following the concept of Maintenance planning and scheduling, companies in India be it oil& gas, mining, chemicals, power, cement, sugar or pharmaceuticals sector can reap rich dividends within a short time span without any significant additional investment.

Contributed By: – Deelip Prabhudesai is a chemical engineer with over 32 yrs experience in asset management consulting and plant operations in oil& gas, mining, chemicals, pharmaceuticals and flexible packaging sector in global companies. Working as a senior consultant with leading US based consulting groups, Deelip has carried out major assessments, performance improvement programs and training courses in maintenance planning and scheduling worldwide saving millions of dollars for the client companies. Deelip can be reached @


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