Back to the Basics Part 6: Planning & Scheduling
Chris Pepin (00:04): Ladies and gentlemen, welcome back to the manufacturing talent podcast. I’m your host, Chris Pepin, founder of Progressive Reliability. On the seven part series I’m going to be joined by Tim Goshert and Doug Plucknette. And we’re going to be going through back to the basics, the fundamentals and the importance of getting it right within manufacturing, maintenance, and reliability. Welcome to the conversation!
Chris Pepin (00:25): Gentlemen, welcome back to the manufacturing talent podcast. I’m your host, founder of Progressive Reliability, Chris Pepin, joined today by Tim Goshert and Doug Plucknette. Today, we’re going to go through two very different disciplines that often get lumped together, planning and scheduling. We’re going to start off with Tim today, Tim.
Tim Goshert (00:47): Good morning, everyone. You know, planning and scheduling are two distinctly different processes that are parts of what I would envision as a five-step work execution or execution [inaudible: 00:01:04]. The five steps as I would define them would be, the first step is work identification processes; second step is work planning; third step is weekly work scheduling; fourth step would be daily job coordination or work coordination; and then the fifth step would be managing work backlog. So, these are the high level five steps. So, if we go back and we talk about the first step in work execution management, it’s really how is work being identified in your plant or in your operations? And a lot of that work should be, not a lot, but a portion of that work should be identified already with the development work on maintenance strategy. So you should have a CBM route [inaudible: 00:02:03] CBMs, and you should have quantitative preventative maintenance tasks that have been identified from your previous strategy work.
Tim Goshert (02:13): You should have failure finding tasks, and you should have a redesign and maybe modification work that are being identified by the strategy work. And what I also include would be the corrective work from that proactive work you’re being done by your CBM tasks and your PM tasks. You know, what follow-up work is coming from those work processes that you have set up in your strategy development. And then the final one would be in work identification. It’s when these are the ones you want try to limit, it’s when the equipment is telling you when it needs to be worked on by failing or having a significant defect that you can hear typically with your human senses. Any comments, Doug, regarding these processes of work identification before we…
Doug Plucknette (03:19): Yeah, and I think the only thing that companies stumble on with us sometimes Tim is, you know, who’s responsible for that, right? And in most cases, you know, as you said, this work, the large percentage of this should come out of your strategy development, right, through whether you use RCM or failure modes library, or whatever you did [inaudible: 00:03:41]. So that [inaudible: 00:03:43] already be there and it should be coming up on a regular basis. Right?
Tim Goshert (03:48): Yeah, a large percentage. What I like to do is get to like 75 to 80% of the work being proactive. And that should be coming from the strategies that you develop, because if it isn’t, if you don’t get a large percentage of your work coming from those strategies, then you got to say, well, what’s wrong with my strategies that I’m not getting the work, and you know, why did I go through all that fundamentals work ahead of time if you’re not getting the right work identified upfront?
Doug Plucknette (04:22): And then your proactive corrective work comes from doing those tasks, right? So it’s getting the right people to put those tasks in, places fall down where they have word of mouth process with this, where the PDM tech says, hey, I just went and did this, and this is what I found. Could you write a work order for it? It needs to be taken care of. In reality, it should be the person that detects that, that writes it. Other than that, I mean, this process is relatively simple, especially if you’ve done the work correctly upfront.
Tim Goshert (04:56): Absolutely. So, it’s critical. I mean, it’s critical that you get the work identified using the right processes. And, like I said, most of them should come from the strategies developed. The second process that we want to talk about is work planning, and planning is distinctly different from work scheduling. In the marketplace today you hear the word planning and scheduling married together as one process. Well, actually, it’s really not. Work planning is a separate process. And the way I like to explain it to people and have done for years is that it’s really the mental creation of the work. A book that I read years ago, and best-selling author, Stephen Covey, in Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, he, you know, he talks about the concept of life being created twice. There’s always a mental creation that precedes any physical creation.
Tim Goshert (06:04): And that’s really what work planning is. It’s the mental creation of the work. It’s the, you know, what are we doing? Where are we doing it, what piece of equipment, how are we going to do it? The needed steps and all the information that you need to complete the work in an efficient, safe manner. So planning is really all that and has to be done ahead of time. It’s not done the day of, it’s typically done days and weeks ahead, because most of the time, not all, but you need parts and equipment to be able to complete the work and you need more than one day of time typically to get those things.
Doug Plucknette (06:50): And I guess [inaudible: 00:06:52], you know, you’ve talked about these being two separate processes. They should be two separate job functions. Oftentimes you’ll see companies say, well, this is Fred, he’s our scheduler planner. Most times that doesn’t work out. And I shouldn’t even say most, it rarely works out when companies try to do it that way, because you’ve got a person that’s planning and they just become overwhelmed with jobs falling out of the schedule, jobs not being ready. The planner’s job is, as you say, that mental creation and then the physical piece of that, making sure the parts are there, making sure any special tools that are needed are there. And then they hit that button and say, okay, the job is ready to go. Their job is done, right.? It goes over to the scheduler and that way your planner can plan efficiently and accurately. And that’s really a huge step for a lot of companies system, make that recognition. I’m glad you pointed that out.
Chris Pepin (07:58): Well, Doug, [inaudible: 00:07:57] several sins being committed in terms of other work getting handed to planners or schedulers. I mean, what can you cover there in terms of, kind of how the jobs being used in the wrong way and how tasks are being handed out in a really ineffective manner to these folks?
Tim Goshert (08:16): Well, Chris, you’re right. In my travels in the last 20 years, the biggest sin in work execution is have the planning role do everything, because they, they dump everything on it. So, the first definition is the planner is the mental creation. He should do no, he or she should do nothing that is physical. Therefore, you know, planners get stuck expediting parts, they get stuck finding parts. They get interrupted on a daily basis for the emergency of the day, you know, to get information and parts because of the emergency of the day. All that is our major sins. And when the planner is doing that type of work, they’re not planning future proactive work. So it is critical that you isolate the planning process from the day to day whirlwind of activity that can happen in a facility.
Tim Goshert (09:25): And regarding, Doug, your comments on having a different person doing a work scheduling process, I agree fully. And the majority of plants, that’s what I would always recommend, having the planner typically separate from your weekly work scheduling process and your daily coordination process. The only difference that I see if you have a very, very small plant, like in my previous employer, we had small grain elevators and small feed mills and things like that, where we had one person doing the planning process and typically to get them in the right mode, typically they had them wear different hats. And then when they did the planning process they wore a red hat, when they did the scheduling process, they would maybe wear a blue hat as an example. So, they would know where they’re at in their process and that gets things mixed up.
Doug Plucknette (10:37): I would just add to that, that when you do that, when you segregate that, when the planner actually becomes a planner, then they become way more effective. Then their ears are open to when the trades people come in the office and say, hey, I just got this job. And I got the kit. And there’s three things in the kit that one thing was missing, one thing was incorrect, one thing was the wrong size. Right? Now, you’ve got a person that’ll actually take the time to listen and say, okay, let me correct those so next time we do it, it’s accurate. Right? When you have somebody that’s just swamped with trying to do everything, right, then stuff like that, somebody comes in and they look at them and go, get out. Right? If it’s not right, you go find it yourself. Right?
Tim Goshert (11:27): Yeah. And that’s really the most important process. That’s work plan improvement, right?
Doug Plucknette (11:33): Right. Continuous improvement of what’s out there. Yeah.
Tim Goshert (11:37): The work plans, yeah. The next major area, the third area is really weekly work scheduling. And this is another mental creation part of the work. In weekly work scheduling, we schedule basically, when are we going to do it. In what window can we get these plan jobs next week done and executed? So the raw material for a weekly work schedule is to have planned work that has all the parts available, all the equipment needed. And you have the proper resources that following week to schedule on a weekly basis. Typically I like, you know, to measure what your weekly work schedule adherence is. And, you know, the idea is to complete a hundred percent of that weekly work schedule. That’s the goal. Now that may not happen some weeks, but that’s, you know, what needs to be done really is done in the next step.
Doug Plucknette (12:55): So, and I think the key to this is to have the right people in the room when you do it. Maintenance can’t do this. A maintenance supervisor can’t do this without operations participating, right. They need to know what the operation schedule is to say, all right, what equipment can I have to work on in the upcoming week? At what days will it be available? What hours will be available? What shift will it be available? All those types of things, that’s information that operations brings to the table and they have to be involved with this process. It does not work without them.
Tim Goshert (13:29): Absolutely agreed, Doug. It’s really a team process in weekly work scheduling. Everybody has to buy into it. You know, if the week starts on a Monday, typically you would do this the Thursday before you have it published by Friday morning for the next week of what the work’s going to be done. And what [inaudible: 00:13:53] published, it needs to be published to the operations group into the entire plant so people know what the plan is to get work done next week. And, you know, what are we going to do?
Doug Plucknette (14:07): All right. And this should also be a high ranking KPI for those in the operations and maintenance group, schedule compliance for maintenance. It’s one of those things that you’ll see that on the maintenance managers, KPIs, has often on the ops side, you know, we’re not responsible for what maintenance gets done. Well, yeah, absolutely [inaudible: 00:14:33]. It’s like Tim said, it’s a team thing. So this really should be, you know, when it comes to the KPIs that your maintenance and operations managers are assessed by. This is an important one that they both have that.
Chris Pepin (14:52): Yeah, and KPIs don’t necessarily move by themselves in a vacuum, right. There’s bound to be some cultural and internal resistance. As these techniques get traction, you’re getting a lot more rent time. And the way people [inaudible: 00:15:32] operate is going to increase in intensity. How do you deal with that?
Doug Plucknette (15:12): Tim, you want to go first?
Tim Goshert (15:13): Yeah, my view on that is if you follow this plan, you start doing proactive work, the intensity of a highly reactive culture and workplace, the intensity decreases to a more calm scheduled thoughtful day. And what you find is that your craftspeople, they enjoy that better because they are not getting pulled off jobs half done. They’re able to finish what they’re they started that day or that hour. They have an idea of what they plan to do the next day and the following day. And you just get a culture change that goes from a stressful, reactive to a calm scheduled, proactive culture, I would say.
Chris Pepin (16:21): This is going to level out those hurdles of gaps of, okay, what do we need to be doing? Or we have too much to do to know where we start or highly reactive peaks of having to get everything done and moving everything off. And so you’re saying this over time, watch it balance that stress out.
Tim Goshert (16:37): Oh, absolutely. I’ve seen it happen in many plants that, that happens. Now, it doesn’t happen overnight, but you have to stick to the process.
Doug Plucknette (16:49): I can tell you that in my experience, it is one of those that’s very enlightening when you’ve actually experienced it yourself. It’s what, you know, we started out with this planning and scheduling process. We had three maintenance team leaders, a maintenance supervisor, two operations supervisor, the planner scheduler, right, in the room. And we struggled to get anything done ever. And then over time, as we moved to a more proactive environment and started doing the things that we talked about in this in terms of those steps of criticality and failure modes assessment, and strict work order development, those types of things. And this was a two year process. By the time we were done, there was three people in the room, the maintenance supervisor, the operation supervisor, and the scheduler. That’s it. A scheduler planner job had been separated. And now it was three people. That’s all we needed in the room to accomplish this. And then it went smoothly week after week.
Tim Goshert (18:02): Excellent. Now the next step in my view is once you have a weekly schedule, then you’re into the next week which is execution of that schedule. And the process is called daily work coordination. And that’s typically done by the maintenance supervisor, the maintenance team lead, and their job is to adhere to this weekly schedule for that day. Now, in a changing operations, a lot of things can change. Resources may change. We might have people that are sick that couldn’t come to work. You might have some parts and tool availability that maybe there was a mistake. And then lastly, you may have those equipment failures that need to be attended to that interrupt the schedule. The process of doing that is called daily work coordination. And the idea is to focus on the goal of getting that proactive scheduled work done, and then make the appropriate adjustments if you have to break the schedule. And this is key. Now, like I said, typically the work is done by the maintenance supervisor of that crew. But they typically do that in consultation with other people like operations and to understand the needs of the plant. But this is done on a weekly basis and an important step.
Doug Plucknette (19:46):
And most places every day, first thing in the morning, 20 minutes, right? I mean, it shouldn’t be something that you have to mull over for hours on end.
Tim Goshert (19:57): Yeah, typically you’re right. Typically they do it first in the morning and then at the end of the day and saying, well, okay, how did we do today? What break ins did we have? What do we carry over to tomorrow? You know, what’s tomorrow’s schedule look like, and what adjustments do we need to make? Now, the idea here is, if you have to move, let’s say a Monday scheduled work to a Tuesday, hey, and get it done Tuesday, that’s fine. Because from a weekly schedule basis, you’re looking at compliance to a weekly schedule. And really, you know, the movement from one day to another and all that is not that important, because you’re getting that critical work done that week. The last area is really an overview areas, is really managing backlog of work. And, you know, there’s different types of backlog. One is, the total backlog is work that has been planned and work that has not been planned [inaudible: 00:21:14], and maybe just identified. [Inaudible: 00:21:17] trying to keep is a backlog of around four to six weeks of planned work that you’re waiting maybe on parts or equipment availability to do. And you want to try to keep it, that backlog of work less than six weeks.
Chris Pepin (21:39): What happens when you don’t?
Doug Plucknette (21:45): I’m not calling it chaos. It’s more than anything disappointment. Right? And it can be, you know, especially if it’s a parts thing, it certainly could be chaos because it could be, you know, a piece of rotating equipment that you’re waiting for, a part that they identified by doing their on condition route that needs to be replaced. And if you don’t get it, then you’re looking at a catastrophic failure, so it can create chaos. But in most cases, it’s the stuff that sits in the backlog is stuff that’s a non-critical component for a piece of equipment that’s not critical. And the job is ready to go. And it just doesn’t have the work order prioritization number to make sure the job gets done. And that’s really where the frustration comes in. You know, I always use the example, we had a drinking fountain that was out of order, right. And it sat in the backlog for two, three months, so way beyond the six week thing. Right? And the two, three months were January, February, March, well guess what happened when it started to get warm? Right?
Doug Plucknette (23:08): All of a sudden it became a higher priority. But the things like that, that stick out in my mind, we struggled with that at first, until all of a sudden, we started saying, how do we make sure we get this stuff done that’s not as critical. Because it does, it frustrates people that the person that put that work order in, to them it was important to get it done. Right? And so, that goes into a few things that need to be looked at. One is the equipment criticality ranking, right? That’s not going to change. That remains. You’ve decided, worked on that as part of your building, your foundational elements. Then you got work order prioritization. What number was it given in terms of priority? And then lastly, the number of weeks that it sat in backlog, and what you do is you start taking that number of weeks. And then it sits there longer, then the priority starts to increase on it, right? So you have a way of intervening the process so that stuff that’s not as critical still gets done, right? You can’t let it sit there forever.
Chris Pepin (24:21): It’s interesting in terms of not only how do you prioritize those lower level things that can become higher level, but also how do like quick fixes and patches come into play? So if you have something critical, you have an issue you need to get fixed and up and running faster, but then it’s working, everybody transitions off to what they do. How do you maintain the discipline to be able to make sure this process is fully implemented and becomes a part of the organizational culture?
Doug Plucknette (24:48): Yeah. And that’s really the big cultural issue of this is getting people to understand that we need to take the emotion out of this process and use those three pieces of ranking that I talked about. Right? Otherwise the person that has got the loudest voice in the room is the one that gets the work done. Right? And when you’re a maintenance organization of services, three or four different departments, you know the people that have done that know what I’m talking about, right? So, there has to be a way that everybody agrees to that takes the emotion out of it. And that’s really what we’re talking about.
Tim Goshert (25:29): The other thing that you talked about, Chris, was what happens if we have too much backlog? Unless, you know, like say you’re running 10 weeks of backlog and you’re not able to do anything about it. You’re not able to break it. That you have to look at two, I think at two things. Number one, you have to look at the type of work that’s being identified [inaudible: 00:25:52] is it work that needs to be done? That’s number one. But the second thing, you may not have the right appropriate amount number of resources to do that. And plants typically run in ebbs and flows. You sort of snowball in a bad position, and then you snowball down into good positions, but it runs like a cyclical ebb and flow where you run well for a while, and then maybe you have a bad week or so, and you’re not running so well. And you may need to supplement resources to get over that hump and then get you back to ground zero. So, it’s a backlogs and measurements of understanding the type of work you have and the amount of resources to get that work done.
Doug Plucknette (26:48): Yeah. And I always tell people, don’t fall into the trap of, if you’re having to do that every six months, it’s like Tim says, you don’t have the adequate amount of resources. Right? I’ve seen places say all of a sudden, well what we’ll do is we’ll put the maintenance guys on 50 hour weeks for a month, right? If six months later you’re doing that again, somebody is trying to tell you something.
Tim Goshert (27:17): Yeah, absolutely. Now with that being said, nearly every plant that I’ve ever walked into and talked to the maintenance supervisor, one of the first things they ever say to [inaudible: 00:27:30] people to get done what they asked me to get done. And in reality, when you’re working in a reactive environment and you haven’t done all the processes that we’ve talked about on these podcasts, you’ll never have enough people, because you don’t know what’s going to break when, and you always have more work than people, no matter how many people you have. But if you get into a more proactive environment, controlled environment, the key is when you do that, you stop failures from occurring and you solve long-term root cause problems that over time your need for people goes down and you’ll need less people. Now, in today’s marketplace where resources are really hard to come by and find good resources, I believe that the companies that do these processes are the ones that will survive. And it’s going to be very difficult in the future for companies to survive in reactive environments and do it the old fashioned way of, you know, fix it when it breaks, because they won’t have enough people to keep up. They won’t be able to find people to keep up, in my view.
Chris Pepin (28:51): And that brings us to the final question to tie everything in the thread through these conversations is, how does this affect, or how does this change with respect to new machinery, smart machinery and everything else, all the new technologies that are coming out left and right? How does having a good planning or scheduling processes, how does that really affect that?
Doug Plucknette (29:18): Okay. So, going into this, again it still comes down to, does that smart machine have, does it come with a hierarchy? Does the hierarchy fit the ISO standard? And once we get that set up and then we have the criticality ranking done for the piece of equipment, some of these machines that are actually capable in the future of communicating with your planning system, right, to put out an alarm that says, you know, I’ve got a hot bearing, for example that would drive a pro work order to go out, to have somebody take a look at that and assess it and make a determination whether or not a job needs to be put in. So none of that stuff works unless you have that foundation in place, right? That has to be there first. It’s not going to happen magically. You’re not going to put that new machine on the floor and then all of a sudden through amazing wireless technology, it puts all that stuff together for you and starts kicking out work orders. And in fact, puts the parts in there and shows up on some maintenance person’s screen to get the job done. That’s not going to happen, right, until you put the foundational elements in place.
Chris Pepin (30:38): Well, I think with that, we’re well covered on today’s topic. We appreciate our audience for staying with us, and Tim and Doug, as always, it’s a pleasure to have these conversations. We look forward to sharing a little more information details and wisdom [inaudible: 00:30:54] guys on the next podcast. Thanks everybody!
Chris Pepin (31:00): Well, thank you for joining Tim, Doug and myself again. We encourage you to download the white paper, which you can find at our website www.proreli.Com so as you can find myself, Tim, and Doug on LinkedIn, we look forward to joining you on the next one.