Leadership in Maintenance: Practical Prioritizing
A successful partnership between operations and maintenance is rooted in the execution of unified work processes. IDCON defines work processes as something documented, executed and followed up on Priorities are a cornerstone in a well-functioning partnership.
I recently visited client to assess their work processes.
In analyzing their work orders, I found that for the most part all of them were marked ”priority 1.” I vividly remember three work orders that showed the dysfunction in their process:
New work order: Move valve from the back to the front side of the production line to provide easier access for operations.
Work order 3 months prior: Move valve from front side of the production line to the back side.
Work order 7 months prior: Move valve from the back side to the front side of the production line to provide easier access for operations
All three were marked as ”priority 1.” It appeared that the different shifts in operations wanted different things and wanted them right now! Maintenance was merely servicing requests, and no one was reviewing the work orders, history, or questioned the validity of the work or the priority of the work.
This is an example of a dysfunctional partnership between operations and maintenance - one big divide. Communication was faltering, mainly because there was no properly functioning work process in place upon which to build a partnership, and no good channels for communication.
It was clear, the daily routines and work processes had to change at this client’s site.
If this situation sounds similar to your reality, I have a few ideas that can help you implement an improved work process based on prioritizing work orders.
- Establish clear joint priority rules
- Follow the priority rules
- Measure the results and adjust as needed
1. Establish clear priority rules
Priority rules need three objects:
- A code/name – for example 1, 2, 3
- Criteria and rule for a code/name – A description of what constitutes a priority 1 (for example)
- Completion date – Priority 1, immediate, priority 2 within 48 hrs., etc.
Note, one could argue there are only 2 main priorities, now or later. If it’s later, it is a matter of how late.
GET YOUR FREE example Priority Rule Guideline
Operations and maintenance must join forces in creating priority rules. Feel free to use our example guideline or use it to develop your own. When the rules are implemented, be sure to communicate them to all involved.
Print laminated cards of the priority guide as a reminder for everyone involved.
2. Follow the priority rules
To be successful the work order log must be updated, and daily or weekly meetings need to be held with operations and maintenance. In weekly meetings, priorities must be jointly decided for new work orders, or at least, both operations and maintenance have to have a chance to make changes to preliminary work orders.
3. Measure results and adjust as needed
Conduct regular analyses, for example through a short discussion that can include:
- How many work orders with priority 1 are older than three days?
- Measure in number or percent, the tasks that are disrupting the completion schedule for the week (have to have a schedule first J)
- Interview the repair technicians and ask how many non-pressing work orders they get daily that could wait a day or until the following week.
- Have an honest and open discussion with operations and maintenance, reviewing, say, 10 work orders together. Critique the actual priority and what it should have been.
- The more people in your crew that are involved in making the changes, the bigger chance that the new priority rules will be accepted.
Good luck with implementing priority rules!
For More Information about prioritizing check out our resource library or give us a call! I’m interested in hearing from you. Do you have any tips for or questions about implementing priority rules or experiences in fostering good partnerships between operations and maintenance? Join our discussion on this topic at our www.LinkedIn.com forum Search for IDCON’s discussion page.
Torbjörn is the owner and CEO of IDCON. He has managed projects in 18 countries and more than 80 organizations. Torbjörn has a B.S. in Industrial Engineering from N.C. State University and earned a Master’s of Science in Engineering at Lund University. He worked at Consafe in Lund, before joining IDCON in 1997.
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