Process and Operations

MRO Q&A: What is the standard for how much work can be done in a normal shift?

MRO Q&A is a Food Processing series addressing maintenance, repair and operational issues in food plants.

Q: We recently transitioned to a planned maintenance system, and it seems like the amount of planned work is always greater than what our mechanics can complete. What is the standard for how much work can be done in a normal shift?

A: The honest answer is “it depends.” You can go out to the web and find theoretical “wrench time” values in different types of industries, but they can only be used as guidelines. You may have an efficient planner or less than energetic mechanics, but before you start to tell yourself a story, you need to look at the specifics of your facility and how you operate.

There is a measure called the “waterfall effectiveness value” that is used to measure the effectiveness of an asset. In this case it would be the utilization of your mechanics. This value is derived by subtracting all of the activities that detract from the actual work that needs to be done. For example; in an eight-hour shift, deduct: 20 minutes for getting shift transfer information from the shift leaving and coming on; travel time to/from the storeroom to get parts for each trouble call; the time it takes to lock out equipment, etc. My point is that you have to consider all efficiency detractors.

Every facility has different distances between production areas and maintenance shops and policies about having one storeroom versus satellites. These variables have a direct effect on travel time deductions. Many companies have instituted various high-performance work team protocols that require mechanics to be in daily meetings, which is a great idea as long as you realize that, too, has a cost.

You have made a great decision to transition to a planned maintenance type of operation. View this as a journey in the same way you would troubleshoot a problem. Get all the information you can on detractors and eliminate each one with the input of your people, but always keep your focus on the improving the process and not jumping to the conclusion that the people are the problem.