Written by Thomas Schelling, Director, Technical Services – Solutions and Transitions

A successful strategy to increase wrench time, or the amount of time it takes a technician to perform their tasks with tools in hand, should include planning and scheduling because it increases the productivity of the team and can reduce unnecessary injuries.

What is the best solution to increase the industry average wrench time from 35% to about 50%? Two areas are fundamental:

  • Planning
  • Scheduling

Planning includes providing the correct work instructions, SOP, PPE, identifying safety concerns, work permits, risk assessments, replacement or repair parts, special tools and anything necessary to properly and safely perform the work.  The technician can complete the necessary work without chasing down parts, instruction, or tools.

Scheduling refers to assigning the who, what, when, where, and how long the task will take to accomplish. Identifying the correct work instruction, tools and equipment beforehand ensures the scheduler can assign a technician with the proper skill set and specialized training to complete the job. When planning and scheduling are done properly, unnecessary gaps are removed.

What can help? Using a CMMS (Computerized Maintenance Management System) is a must to properly plan and schedule. There are a multitude of CMMS platforms out there and many are specific to the type of work e.g.  manufacturing, building maintenance, mobile maintenance. The CMMS allows the scheduler to plan in the system’s calendar, input work instructions in the system, and recurring PM (Preventive Maintenance) tasks can be auto-scheduled for future maintenance. Technicians will capture their task completion information (parts used, repair work performed, time to complete, failure mode) in the system upon work completion. The CMMS is also a great data bank for future review for many decision-making opportunities.  All these systems can be accessed by handheld devices so technicians can review their work assignments in real time.

So, it shouldn’t be a surprise that unplanned work increases safety concerns in multiple ways:

  • The pressure to get failed equipment back up and running in a hurry
  • End of shift fatigue when failures need attention
  • Work performed under poor or dangerous conditions
  • Under-skilled workers
  • Bypassing safety processes

According to the Belgian Maintenance Association (BEMAS), technicians are nearly 13 times as likely to get hurt performing their tasks when less than 25% of their work is planned, as compared to 75%.

Consider a technician who doesn’t identify planning and scheduling before their task starts. Are they more at risk for a workplace injury? Absolutely. When we train and arm our technicians with the proper tools and plans, they are less likely to get hurt. Increasing wrench time helps save money, time, and unnecessary injuries, and increases productivity in the workplace. That’s the end game; safety in every step by flexing effective planning and scheduling optimizing time for our clients and technicians.

Who takes care of your facility? Reach out to our industry experts for more information: cwservices.com/contact-us.

Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals – SMRP Best Practices – 5th Edition – Maintenance and Reliability Body of Knowledge.
2011 SMRP conference presentation; How to fight the maintenance crises…and convince everybody in your own organization of the benefits of maintenance. Joel Leonard -Wim Vancauwenberghe…