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What every maintenance manager needs to know about the future of scheduling

Updated: Jun 5, 2023

In this popular series, we’ve reviewed maintenance work order management and maintenance planning, focusing on current state challenges and how technology is alleviating those challenges, improving productivity and safety, and reducing costs.

In this post, we’ll dive into the maintenance management stage of scheduling and look at current state challenges and what the future holds.

First, let’s understand the current state of scheduling, and two major challenges asset managers face.

Unplanned work

The intent is to schedule the maximum number of hours available based on available resources; to improve efficiency, speed up workflow, prevent problems, and cut costs. One of the biggest challenges faced by maintenance or asset managers is how to deal with unplanned work. Unplanned work should only be allowed to break into schedules if it is deemed to have a high enough priority based on the potential risks associated.Maintenance managers also must consider the impact on the current along with the risks of the opportunity costs of delaying that work - understanding the criticality of equipment is key. Unfortunately, unplanned work is often incorrectly prioritized over scheduled tasks, affecting weekly compliance, posing a risk to completion of planned work, and adding to the growing maintenance backlog.

Traditionally, technicians frequently work in firefighting mode and, inevitably, preventive planned maintenance is negatively impacted if not completely ignored, causing further breakdowns and emergency work. Disciplined allocation of time and resources is sometimes a seemingly insurmountable obstacle to achieving best in-class maintenance execution. The need is for more. More time. More resources.

Time estimations

Planning and scheduling of maintenance execution is based on historical hours logged in the computerized maintenance management system (CMMS). There are two challenges that often arise with this practice. Firstly, hours allocated during the project phase are often not transferable to the operate phase, and as a result initial planning and scheduling is inaccurate. Secondly, CMMS data is not updated with any regularity, if at all, with realistic estimates as the asset life cycle evolves.This leads to underestimated hours in the planning and scheduling phases which result in morale issues, safety issues, and plans that are unachievable; or overestimated hours, which result in unnecessary backlog, manpower bloat, downtime and spares holding gaps, and inefficient execution. Both lead to an inefficient allocation of resources which always has a financial impact. The root of this challenge lies in the incomplete, out-of-date data in the CMMS.

How technology is addressing these two common challenges

Technology is giving back time with remotely accessible, aggregated, contextualized up-to-date data. Certain technologies allow maintenance teams to access all the data they need to plan and schedule maintenance tasks in a single interface, including documents, inspection records, work orders, permits, and real-time operating data. The tech does this by integrating all the backend systems, aggregating the data, contextualizing it, and in the case of digital twins, visualizing it in 2D or 3D and providing 360° zoomable panoramic views down to the component level.

What does this mean? It means that:

  • All the data the organization has is available in the application to all users with access in real or near-real time, is fully up to date, and is fully integrated with all other systems

  • Asset managers, sub-contractors and technicians can all view the asset data and the schedule in a common viewing environment, collaborate within the interface, and view the asset remotely in 2D or 3D

  • Apart from actually carrying out maintenance tasks, much of the identification, planning and scheduling can be efficiently managed remotely, minimizing time on site and travel time.

  • The technology supports seamless simultaneous operations (SIMOPS) and integrates with other scheduling applications

Impacts include increased productivity, decreased costs, reduced site exposure risks, and reduced travel time - the technology quite literally gives back time.

In our next post we’ll consider the current state, challenges, and impacts of technology on maintenance execution and close out. If you found this to be of interest, here’s more detailed information on how VEERUM specifically optimizes all phases of maintenance management including planning and scheduling, or download the full white paper on Visualizing the Future of Operations, Maintenance and Reliability here.


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