A robust work order management system can spell the difference between meeting your orders and failing to fulfil them. In an effective maintenance program, work orders can propel a team toward greater efficiency.
But what exactly is a work order?
Work Order, Defined
A work order is primarily a communication tool between your maintenance team and the various stakeholders in your company.
It should contain all the necessary details needed to complete a specific task. These details may include the specifics and scope of the job, the team member assigned to the task, and the expected outcomes once the task has been completed.
Work orders are critical for completing a task most efficiently. That goal can be achieved by enabling maintenance managers to organize, prioritize, and track essential duties.
An Overview of the Process
Each maintenance task can be broken down into three principal parts – the creation of a request, fulfilment of said request, and documentation.
These three parts can be broken down further into subtasks:
1. Task Identification
Whether your maintenance team follows a reactive or preventive maintenance scheme, a work order begins with the identification of a particular task that needs to be done.
In a reactive maintenance program, that may include working on the breakdown of particular equipment. In preventive or proactive maintenance, a work order can come in the form of a routine inspection.
2. Creating a Request
Once a specific task has been identified, the next step in the work order process is the creation of a formal request which is submitted to the maintenance team.
In reactive maintenance, it is typically the machine’s operator who requests the maintenance team if his equipment breaks down. In preventive maintenance, when a piece of equipment needs to be subjected to routine inspection, it is the maintenance crew that draws a schedule for the task.
3. Scheduling and Prioritization
Maintenance teams receive a substantial volume of requests. Some require immediate action, while others do not.
It is one of the jobs of the maintenance supervisor to look at these requests and prioritize the fulfilment of these, based primarily on the time-sensitivity of each request.
Once the priority of these requests has been determined, the manager can do a few things. He may set a deadline, look at specific triggers, or allocate a set amount of time.
4. Task Assignment and Completion
The next critical step that needs to be taken is assigning the work order to a technician.
Only after the task is successfully completed can the work order close. Typically, a manager needs to sign off the work order for compliance purposes.
After the work order has been closed, it can be filed away. It is critical that completed work orders are correctly recorded in order to enable maintenance managers and stakeholders to look at these from a historical perspective.
Additionally, previous work orders can provide maintenance teams with invaluable insights on current problems as well as potential solutions that could be used for other work orders.
Creating a Template for Work Orders
The more detailed a work order request is, the easier it will be for the maintenance team to process requests.
What exactly should a work order form contain? These include:
- Asset to be worked on
- Description of the problem
- Scope of work
- Tools and parts required
- Completion and actual completion date
- Work hours
- Projected and actual work hours
- Task checklist
- Assigned technicians
- Relevant documents required
Establishing a Clear-Cut System
It is not merely enough that work orders are processed. In order to create efficiency in processing these orders, a clear-cut system must be established.
Such a system offers a few benefits. For starters, it enables the maintenance team to seamlessly take all the necessary steps in completing a request. Second, it allows your maintenance crew to avoid different problems, ranging from backlogs to high costs to lack of clear accountability.
In order to achieve this goal and avoid potential stumbling blocks, it is necessary to choose and use the right tools for the job.
Maintenance teams from around the world have used a diverse array of tools to help them manage work orders. These range from pen and paper to whiteboards to CMMS software.
For many, pen and paper and whiteboards serve as their go-to tools, primarily because these are cost-effective and require practically no specialist training. However, these tools have several shortcomings, including the potential for mistakes and inaccuracies.
Spreadsheets are considered to be a step up above pen and paper and whiteboards. The use of these eliminates problems related to filing and loss or damage. But because spreadsheets have not been specifically designed and developed with managing work orders in mind, they have their own share of shortcomings. These include a lack of real-time updates and the requirement of specialist training.
A computer maintenance management system or CMMS software easily overcomes most of the problems associated with the aforementioned tools, making it a critical tool for establishing a work order management system.
With this powerful software, a maintenance team can view and access vital information in real-time from a desktop computer or through a CMMS mobile app. Documenting the steps involved in the work order process can be automated, minimizing user error while enhancing efficiency and productivity.
A CMMS allows your maintenance team to simplify the process of work order planning and task assignment. This is achieved by enabling team members to easily view the availability of the resources needed to complete a work order.
Furthermore, the software allows for maintenance teams to outline the steps necessary to get the job done in a step by step manner. This minimizes guesswork and fast-tracks the completion of tasks.
For preventive maintenance, the essential parts and tools can be easily checked if these are available, and orders for these can be placed well ahead of the scheduled time in case the inventory has run out.
The True Value of Work Order Management
Work orders are a critical component of a maintenance program. Efficient work order management system gives your crew the agility to promptly respond to unplanned breakdowns and to firmly establish a preventive maintenance scheme. Apart from that, the delineation and assigning of tasks become easier, translating to efficient work.
Mohammad Daudi is the Chief Revenue Officer at SGE Group International, a multidisciplinary group of companies with core business interests in Asset Lifecycle Management, Land Development and Software. Aladdin is SGE’s proprietary Asset Lifecycle Management software, designed to empower FM, Maintenance and Asset teams across multiple industry sectors.