How long should a Maintenance Planner take to Plan a maintenance job?

Time to review details, think and develop a job plan is necessary if you want right-first-time maintenance work. Every hour spent planning a maintenance job saves many more hours on the job. Do not begrudge a Planner putting in time to get the job plan right.

When a Maintenance Planner plans work orders their time can be divided into four phases—Investigation, Consideration, Organisation, Administration—each phase needs its own time.



Hi Mike,

What percentage of work time should a maintenance planner spend on the plant floor planning work orders and other maintenance activities?



Hello Bruce,

A Planner receives a work request and needs to develop a complete work pack to do that job. The content of the work pack is the Maintenance Planner’s responsibility. Without a work pack the job will be done by the Technician from memory and without forethought as to the best way to tackle the tasks ahead of them. Good luck and good memory are the only protection you have when jobs are not planned properly.

The Planner has to identify the parts for the job, develop a work plan, and a write comprehensive job procedure (if it is not already available). They need to gather technical information relevant for the job and safety/risk information for the Technician.

The Planner should personally sight the job to scope-out the work steps, identify tools and equipment, consider related safety and risk aspects (e.g. process isolations, power isolations, job hazards, etc.) required from start to finish to complete the job, recommission the equipment, and get the item back into operating service. The planning requires at-site time to scope work; it requires technical library search time to gather specific engineering information; it requires time reviewing the technical information to identify how the equipment is built and what replacement parts are needed; it needs time doing job planning on a computer to structure the work plan; it requires procurement time gathering prices and data entry on a computer to order the required parts and/or services.

If we call ‘plant floor time’ the periods when the Planner is not at a computer or on the phone, you can classify job scope-out, engineering data collection, technical review, talking to the operator to understand what went wrong, asking questions of engineers about the problem, and safety/risk analysis under that category. A more meaningful name would be to call it Investigation time.

Consideration time involves thinking how to best do the work, including entering the job plan into a Gantt Chart, and writing the job procedure.

Organisation time would cover contacting people to get quotes for parts and services, negotiating on resource availability and their site access requirements, haggling over prices and delivery times, ordering purchased items and services.

Administration time would cover data entry into the CMMS, printing procedures, collecting forms and record sheets, printing drawings and other engineering information, and compiling the complete work pack ready to hand over to the Scheduler.

What percentage of time each category should take depends on the job and its complexity. But ‘plant floor time’ or Investigation time would make-up a reasonable portion of the total time. In the order of a quarter to a third of total time could easily be spent investigating the best and the safe way to do the work.


My best regards to you,

Mike Sondalini
Managing Director
Lifetime Reliability Solutions HQ


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