Designing a Maintenance Workflow

A properly planned maintenance workflow is of paramount importance for organizations across various industries. It serves as the backbone of efficient operations, offering a structured and proactive approach to asset management.
Designing a Maintenance Workflow
Written by
Darren Stewart
Published on
April 12, 2023

A properly planned maintenance workflow is of paramount importance for organizations across various industries. It serves as the backbone of efficient operations, offering a structured and proactive approach to asset management. By systematically scheduling maintenance tasks, inspections, and repairs, organizations can minimize unplanned downtime, reduce the risk of costly breakdowns, and extend the operational life of critical assets. 

This, in turn, enhances productivity, operational efficiency, and cost control. Moreover, a well-executed maintenance workflow ensures the safety and compliance of equipment and facilities, preventing accidents and regulatory violations. It allows for the allocation of resources and budgeting in a predictable manner, enabling organizations to make informed decisions about maintenance priorities and investments. 

In an era where downtime and unexpected failures can have significant financial and operational repercussions, a properly planned maintenance workflow is an indispensable strategy for maintaining competitiveness and reliability in today's fast-paced business environment. In this article we will talk through the top-level stages of a maintenance workflow and share with you one we have designed as an example.

An example maintenance workflow process.

Work identification

Work identification is a pivotal step in the intricate choreography of a maintenance workflow process, serving as the compass that guides organizations towards the efficient and effective management of their assets and infrastructure. 

This initial phase entails a systematic and thorough assessment of maintenance needs, from identifying equipment or systems that require attention to determining the nature and scope of the work involved. In essence, work identification lays the foundation for a well-orchestrated maintenance strategy, ensuring that resources are allocated judiciously, downtime is minimized, and the overall operational integrity of the organization is preserved. 

Without a robust and accurate work identification process, the subsequent maintenance activities may falter, making it a critical linchpin in the overarching quest for optimal asset management and reliability.

Work Order Execution 

Work order execution refers to the process of carrying out and completing tasks or activities specified in a work order. A work order is a document or electronic record that contains details about a specific job or task that needs to be accomplished, including instructions, materials, equipment, and any other relevant information.

Work orders are commonly used in various industries, such as manufacturing, construction, maintenance, and facility management, to organize and track work activities. The execution of a work order involves the following steps:

1. Receiving the Work Order: The work order is typically issued by a supervisor, manager, or a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS). It is then assigned to a specific individual or team responsible for completing the task.

2. Review and Preparation: The person or team assigned to the work order reviews the document to understand the scope of work, requirements, deadlines, and any special instructions. They may also gather the necessary tools, equipment, and materials.

3. Execution: The actual work is performed according to the instructions provided in the work order. This could involve tasks like repairs, maintenance, installations, inspections, or other types of projects. Workers follow safety procedures and best practices during execution.

4. Monitoring and Documentation: While the work is in progress, progress may be monitored to ensure that it is proceeding according to plan. Workers may document their activities, such as recording the start and end times, materials used, and any unexpected issues encountered.

5. Quality Control: Depending on the nature of the work, quality checks may be conducted to ensure that the task is completed correctly and meets the required standards.

6. Completion and Sign-Off: Once the work is finished, the person or team responsible for the work order may mark it as completed. They may also provide any necessary documentation, such as inspection reports or service records.

7. Closing the Work Order: The work order is closed in the system or marked as complete, and any associated administrative tasks, such as invoicing or record-keeping, are completed.

Work order execution is crucial for maintaining organized and efficient operations in various industries, as it helps ensure that tasks are carried out in a systematic and accountable manner, contributing to productivity, safety, and quality control. Additionally, it aids in tracking and managing resources, costs, and overall workflow.

Work Planning & Assignment

Work planning and assignment stand as a pivotal intermediary step in the maintenance workflow process, bridging the gap between initial problem identification and its execution. 

Work planning involves crafting a comprehensive plan that details tasks, resources, and timelines, while work assignment designates specific responsibilities to team members with the requisite skills. This combination ensures that maintenance efforts are well-organized and executed efficiently, facilitating effective asset management and operational continuity.

Planned Preventative Maintenance (PPM) work, often referred to as Preventive Maintenance (PM) or Scheduled Maintenance, is a proactive approach to maintaining and servicing equipment, machinery, facilities, or systems at regular intervals to prevent breakdowns, reduce the risk of unexpected failures, and extend the operational life of assets. PPM is a systematic and planned strategy aimed at keeping equipment and infrastructure in optimal working condition. Here are some key characteristics and benefits of PPM:

1. Scheduled Maintenance: PPM involves creating a maintenance schedule based on manufacturer recommendations, industry best practices, and historical performance data. This schedule outlines when specific maintenance tasks should be performed, such as inspections, lubrication, cleaning, and replacement of components.

2. Preventive Inspections: Regular inspections and assessments are carried out to identify early signs of wear and tear, potential issues, or deterioration. This allows maintenance teams to address problems before they become critical.

3. Component Replacement: PPM plans often include the periodic replacement of certain components, such as filters, belts, or fluids, even if they appear to be functioning properly. This is done to prevent failures and maintain the reliability of the equipment.

4. Lubrication and Calibration: Proper lubrication and calibration are critical for the performance and longevity of equipment. PPM work ensures that these tasks are performed at the right intervals.

5. Cleaning and Housekeeping: Keeping equipment and facilities clean is an essential part of PPM. Dirt, debris, and contamination can negatively affect performance and lead to premature wear.

6. Safety Compliance: PPM may also include safety checks and compliance inspections to ensure that equipment and systems meet regulatory requirements and maintain a safe working environment.

7. Records and Documentation: Detailed records of all maintenance activities are kept, providing a historical log of work performed, which can be valuable for tracking equipment performance, warranty claims, and compliance with industry regulations.

Benefits of Planned Preventative Maintenance:

1. Reduced Downtime: PPM helps minimize unplanned downtime and production interruptions by addressing issues before they lead to equipment failures.

2. Cost Savings: Preventing breakdowns and extending the life of equipment can lead to cost savings compared to reactive maintenance, which tends to be more expensive.

3. Improved Efficiency: Properly maintained equipment operates more efficiently, saving energy and resources.

4. Safety and Compliance: PPM ensures that equipment is safe and meets regulatory requirements, reducing the risk of accidents and penalties.

5. Enhanced Asset Life: Regular maintenance can extend the operational life of assets, delaying the need for expensive replacements.

6. Predictable Budgeting: With a planned maintenance schedule, organizations can budget for maintenance expenses more accurately.

PPM is widely used in various industries, including manufacturing, healthcare, facility management, transportation, and utilities. It is a strategic approach that helps organizations ensure the reliability and availability of their critical assets while controlling maintenance costs.

Designing your maintenance workflow

A well-designed maintenance workflow offers a multitude of advantages. One of its primary benefits is the reduction of unplanned downtime, which can significantly disrupt your operations and lead to costly interruptions. By proactively addressing equipment issues through scheduled maintenance tasks, you can achieve increased operational continuity and minimized disruptions, enhancing overall productivity and reliability.

Another key advantage of a well-structured maintenance workflow is the potential for cost savings. When compared to reactive maintenance practices, which tend to be more expensive due to emergency repairs and replacement costs, planned maintenance helps prevent costly breakdowns and extend the operational life of critical assets. This proactive approach translates into significant financial benefits and improved budget predictability, as organizations can allocate resources more efficiently.

Efficiency and sustainability also receive a boost from a properly planned maintenance workflow. Well-maintained assets operate with greater efficiency, conserving energy and resources while also reducing environmental impact. Regular maintenance can contribute to a more sustainable and eco-friendly operation, aligning with modern environmental and corporate responsibility goals.

Safety and compliance are paramount in any organization. Maintenance workflows ensure that equipment and facilities are safe and compliant with industry regulations and standards. This not only reduces the risk of accidents and safety incidents but also helps organizations avoid legal and financial penalties that may result from non-compliance.

Additionally, planned maintenance extends the operational life of assets, delaying the need for expensive replacements and contributing to long-term sustainability. By consistently monitoring and addressing wear and tear, organizations can maximize the return on their asset investments while reducing waste and the premature disposal of valuable equipment.

Furthermore, a well-structured maintenance workflow generates valuable data and documentation, enabling informed decisions about asset performance, reliability, and future investments. Data-driven decision-making becomes an essential component of optimizing maintenance practices, aligning them with broader business goals and ensuring efficient resource allocation.

In the competitive landscape, organizations that implement effective maintenance workflows gain a substantial advantage. Operational reliability and customer satisfaction are paramount, and a well-executed maintenance plan ensures that organizations can meet these requirements. It supports customer expectations and fosters a positive reputation in the industry.

In conclusion, a well-designed maintenance workflow is a strategic investment that offers a range of benefits, including enhanced efficiency, cost savings, safety, compliance, sustainability, and competitive advantage. It is an indispensable component of modern operations, contributing to both operational success and the bottom line.

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