How Maintenance Work Orders Can Improve Your Company’s Productivity

by Jared Earl

How-is-your-problem-addressing-the-void-1024x576 How Maintenance Work Orders Can Improve Your Company's Productivity

Running a plant requires a multitude of moving parts, some of which can fall through the cracks and be forgotten. This can have a detrimental effect on your workers, technicians, and overall productivity and profits.

To keep your company’s maintenance operating smoothly, invest in a work order system. A maintenance work order system will help streamline all the little projects and jobs that need to to be completed, making sure nothing goes amiss and everything is accounted for. It will provide efficiency and contribute to the overall growth of your company.

What is a Maintenance Work Order?

Although you may be familiar with the concept of a maintenance work order, they can be more complex than you might initially think. A maintenance work order is a formal document, either digital or paper, that details the maintenance work approved from a work request.

Depending on the type of company, work requests can come from workers or customers who see the need for maintenance. Once approved, work requests are turned into work orders. Those work orders provide the details about the problem, location, types of skills and tools needed, and estimated completion date.

To manage work orders, a CMMS, or computerized maintenance management system, is often implemented to keep everything organized and allow workers and managers to communicate efficiently on each job.

What’s Included in a Maintenance Work Order

A maintenance work order isn’t just a quick scribble of what needs to get done, such as fixing the squeaky conveyor belt. Rather, maintenance work orders have specific details that are included. This allows anyone reading it to understand the job at hand, when it’s due, and who is responsible for completing it.

Maintenance work orders ensure that all jobs are completed and executed correctly. Depending on your company, your work order might look different from that of another. They are meant to work for your processes, not against.

However, there are some standard pieces of information that should be in every work order. Details typically included in a work order are:

  • Name of the work order and who is requesting it
  • Work order number
  • Description of the problem or job
  • Location of the job or item that needs to be serviced
  • Required parts
  • Instructions for the job
  • Who is working on the job
  • Due date, or if it’s preventive maintenance, a recurring date
  • Estimated time to complete
  • Estimated costs
  • Any additional images or documents associated with the project

Types of Maintenance Orders

When creating a new maintenance order, keep in mind that there are common types of work orders that help to prioritize what needs to be completed first. The different types of maintenance work orders are based on whether or not they are planned or unplanned, such as unexpected issues or preventive maintenance.

Corrective Maintenance Order (CM) 

Corrective maintenance orders are for fixing equipment when something breaks. These orders are often urgent as having a broken machine can cause delays and downtime.

Condition-Based Maintenance Order (CbM) – 

Condition-based maintenance orders help prevent machines from breaking down by inspecting assets for issues or low performance. If there are such problems, a condition-based work order can be placed and a technician can look into the machine before it breaks.

Preventive Maintenance Order (PM) 

Similar to condition-based maintenance orders, preventive maintenance orders coincide with a maintenance schedule to routinely service machines with the ultimate goal of avoiding preventable issues.  Sticking to the schedule is important, and a work order system can help maintain that servicing cadence.

Predictive Maintenance Work Order (PdM)

These work orders are determined by specialized software that analyzes different machines’ history to estimate when it will break down. By investing in predictive maintenance work orders, you can avoid the costly downtime of a machine breaking and the need to replace it.

How to Manage Maintenance Work Orders

For maintenance work orders to actually improve your plant, they must be utilized correctly. This means ensuring everyone uses work orders for even the smallest tasks, and understands how to use them properly.

Train Your Employees

Sometimes it’s easy for a worker to skip a step or two on the work order with the goal of completing the job quickly, but that will only create bad habits and result in missing pieces. Instead, make sure everyone on the team is using work orders correctly – taking the time to fill them out and complete them as needed for every job and piece of equipment.

Training employees to use work orders correctly will also enable them to understand if there’s an issue with one, like if it doesn’t have the right information or lacks clear direction, which could lead to problems down the road if it isn’t caught early in the process.

Assign Every Work Order

When managing maintenance work orders, one of the most important aspects is assigning it to an employee. By doing so, you give responsibility to that employee, which allows them to demonstrate their skills and productivity. If you leave a task unassigned and allow people to volunteer, the task may go unanswered and miss its due date.

Prioritize Work Orders

Knowing what work needs to be done first is critical to productivity in any industry. Maintenance work orders should be given a priority ranking to understand what project needs are urgent and which ones can wait. Without this ranking, employees will tend to complete their jobs in the order they are assigned. This is especially important if emergency repairs or tasks crucial to safety come up.

Keep Work Orders Automated

The best way to manage maintenance work orders is by implementing an automatic system, such as our SAP Plant Maintenance. While pen and paper may have been the old school way of doing things, complex machinery and plants need an automated system to streamline work. An automated system reduces human error and organizes work orders, helping to prioritize them and increase maintenance productivity.

Benefits of Maintenance Work Orders

Maintenance work orders are almost a necessity to keeping plants and companies organized. They allow everyone working to know what work needs to be done, when it needs to be done, and who needs to complete it.

With work orders, you are saving your team time by avoiding unnecessary data gathering that’s already included with the work order, and avoiding downtime on machinery by prolonging the life of it with routine maintenance.

Other benefits of using work orders are:

  • Better task management
  • Strengthened communication between team members
  • Increased worker safety
  • Improved customer satisfaction
  • Enhanced employee productivity and responsibility 

Challenges of Maintenance Work Orders

Without a proper CMMS in place, maintenance work orders can quickly become more of a time-consuming hassle than its perceived perfect solution. Conventional systems are often filled with higher costs, risk, and poor visibility when it comes to what needs to get done. Being aware of these different challenges will help push aside outdated systems and introduce more advanced ones.

Missing Papers

If done manually, there are many steps involved for the maintenance planner including gathering all of the documents linked to the work order, printing, collecting, and finally delivering it. Without a system to compile all of the papers together, there’s a higher probability of missing papers, which can lead to billing and payment errors and delays.

Subject to Errors

Even if your employees have been working on the plant for thirty years, humans are liable to mistakes, especially if they are rushing to fill in a work order. Advanced work order systems can help reduce these errors and provide more accurate information about your equipment.

Time Consuming

Running a business means time is money , especially if something breaks and results in unwanted downtime and  a loss in profits. Having the right work order system can help speed up response time and prioritize what needs to be done automatically instead of having to sift through all the current work orders by hand.

SAP Plant Maintenance

Seal Systems’ applications can help modernize and automate your work order systems with ease, keeping all of your documents and supporting information in one place. Our SAP Plant Maintenance, a component of the SAP ERP Central Component, assists your plant in maintaining your systems and equipment.

With SAP, you can manage preventative maintenance, repairs, and even keep track of inspections that will help avoid costly breakdowns in the future. It enables the automatic output of SAP plant maintenance forms and decreases downtime of your plant.

When you integrate the SAP plant maintenance module with other SAP ERP central components, such as Production Planning and Distribution, you can create an effective and organized work order process that looks similar to the following:

  • Notify workers of the new work order
  • Request purchase of goods needed for the work order
  • Obtain the parts needed
  • Provide a purchase order
  • Approve the work order
  • Work order is completed
  • Work order is closed

Once the process is completed, Seal Systems will provide a complete output of the work documents and print out, if needed, the entire work order in a single unit. With our system, the time implementing a work package can be reduced by 83%. Using our efficient system will ensure your plant’s maintenance work is organized, up-to-date, and standardized.

If you’re interested in learning whether SAP Plant Maintenance is a good fit for your company, schedule a no-obligation meeting to talk to a member of our team. We’d be happy to discuss the various benefits and ways our software can benefit your business.

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