What’s Missing in Your Hospital’s Maintenance Organization

What’s Missing in Your Hospital’s Maintenance Organization

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By Steve Mueller, Director of Commercial Operations

Regardless of the industry, you’re in, effective planning and scheduling can have a profound impact on your maintenance organization‘s productivity, compliance and equipment reliability.

Planned jobs require only half as much time to execute as unplanned jobs. A rule of thumb for maintenance is that each dollar invested in preparation saves 3-5 hours during work execution.

What shines when maintenance resources are properly planned and scheduled? Equipment reliability increases. Maintenance stores are more available. Costs drop. Wait times are reduced. Excess inventory goes away. The information you use to make decisions is more reliable.

Taking the bull by the horns

In our work with maintenance organizations, we’ve found that the biggest challenges in developing a planning and scheduling program have been overcoming resistance to change, transitioning from a reactive to a proactive culture, and maintaining forward momentum. Here are five things you can do to jump-start your maintenance planning process:

  1. Communicate the benefits to all stakeholders right up front
  2. Appoint qualified people as planners and schedulers
  3. Install a robust Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS)
  4. Use metrics to manage the new processes and show results
  5. Follow up with all stakeholders frequently to reinforce the new behaviors

How do we know it’s working?

  • The preventive maintenance (PM) program is on schedule.
  • Supervisors don’t need to do their own planning and scheduling because they follow the schedules for their shops.
  • Your customers have a single point of communication.
  • All work is on a work order.
  • No work orders are released before the work is ready to be executed.
  • Every worker starts each day with ready work.
  • All planned work has estimated hours, status code and priority.
  • Weekly schedules by crew, date, individual, and job are used.
  • Work order actual hours/work order hours planned is 90-110% of capacity?
  • 100% of the work is covered by a work order.
  • 100% of PM work orders are planned and scheduled.
  • Emergency work should comprise no more than 10% of labor hours.
  • You have the means to appropriately staff the organization by skill and workload demand.

Here are two scenarios that illustrate how planning and scheduling affect maintenance effectiveness:

Scenario A – hospital facilities maintenance department with no planning or scheduling

A work request to repair a door on the 5th floor is forwarded to the Carpentry Shop. The supervisor sees the request the next time he checks his mailbox. The supervisor has many jobs and does not have the time to personally go see what is wrong with the door so he assigns the job to one of his senior carpenters. The carpenter travels from his shop in the basement to the 5th floor and tries to find the broken door. He finally finds the door and discovers it is a fire door with what appears to be a faulty hold-open device. He travels back to the shop to look up the part so he can ask the storeroom if the part is available. He has to wait in line to talk to the storeroom clerk but he eventually obtains the parts he needs. He returns to the shop to gather his tools and takes them and the new parts back up to the 5th floor. He installs the new parts and returns to the shop to resume the work he was doing. The completed work order is turned in to the supervisor for review.

Scenario B – hospital facilities maintenance department with a planning and scheduling process in place.

A work request to repair a door on the 5th floor is entered by the customer into the CMMS and routed to the planner’s inbox. The planner opens the request and realizes he needs more information about the door so he calls the requestor to identify the door location, type of door and get clarification about the problem. The planner than can properly prioritize the request and make time to go scope out the problem. He goes directly to the door and discovers the faulty hold open device works poorly but does release as designed. He returns to his office, checks the availability of the parts in the CMMS, assigns them to the work order he has created for the carpentry shop to fix the door. He estimates the time to repair, including travel, assigns a priority and required skill level and makes the work order available to be scheduled. The scheduler inserts the job into the carpentry shop schedule for the first thing Monday, notifies the customer of the date by email, and assigns it to a carpenter (senior-level skill is not required for this work). The schedule is reviewed with the carpentry supervisor and the work orders are routed to the supervisor’s backlog to be assigned per the schedule. After being assigned the job the carpenter gathers the necessary tools, picks up the part and proceeds to the job to complete the task. The completed work order is turned in to the supervisor for review and closeout in the CMMS.

What’s the difference?

In scenario A the task of scoping the job, an indirect activity, falls to a senior carpenter, a valuable direct laborer, who is already engaged in direct work. He incurs excessive travel time and wait time, all of which is indirect time. He makes the decision to make the repair immediately without knowing if this job is more important than other open work orders, thereby risking a delivery of inconsistent service.

In B, the planner, a staff position, fill in the gaps of the work request information needed for the work order, scopes the job to determine the required tasks, tools, materials, skills and priority and also reserves the materials in the CMMS, all without wasting any direct labor. The job is planned and scheduled while taking a minimum amount of the supervisor’s time and no amount of direct labor. Further, the planned work order has estimated hours, a scheduled date, priority, and a description of the work to be performed. The customer has been kept in the loop and knows when to expect the job to be completed. The supervisor can assess the carpenter’s performance to estimate.

Which scenario was the most productive for direct labor? Which made the best use of the supervisor’s time? Which was better for the customer? Which cost the hospital the least?

Is the time investment worth it?

Don Nyman and Joel Levitt reported the results of their studies of the impact of planning and scheduling on a typical maintenance worker’s day in their book, Maintenance Planning, Scheduling & Coordination. Here is a typical Maintenance worker’s day showing the difference between the percent of time spent on daily indirect (non-productive) activities both with and without the benefit of planning and scheduling:


Daily Indirect Activity Table

Daniel Penn Associates Director of Operations Steve Mueller provides an adept analysis of work and information flow, as well as the assessment of management and work procedures. Steve has additional expertise in developing staffing and resource requirements models and is accomplished in delivering management skills training and one-on-one coaching.

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Ready to discuss your operational goals and challenges? We’re ready to listen. Give us a call at (860) 232-8577.

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