Effective equipment inspection, servicing and repair doesn’t happen by chance. It needs a formal, standardized process, and maintenance work order forms are the heart of it. They explain what work is needed, who should do it and when.
This blog explains how work order forms for maintenance drive the system that cares for plant assets. It delves into what goes into the forms, how they are used, their relationship to the CMMS and the benefits of such a system.
What is a maintenance work order?
Requests for maintenance support can come from safety, production supervisors, facility management and elsewhere. And if one is in place, they may also be generated by the computerized maintenance management system (CMMS). This happens particularly for scheduled or routine work such as that needed as part of a preventative maintenance strategy, to support predictive maintenance services or in response to condition monitoring signals.
Every maintenance work order request form must be reviewed and a response generated. In most systems this is the role of the maintenance planner. If it’s decided work is needed, a work order sets out what must be done, where, when and by whom. Additional information to help the maintenance technician assigned the order could include parts lists, contact names and numbers and an indication of importance or urgency.
The work order is used to initiate and schedule maintenance work. On completion of the activity, it can also be used as a record of what was done. Many organizations use it to gather information on how long the job took, which helps generate KPI data for the maintenance function.
What to include in work order maintenance forms
Businesses customize these forms to support their goals for getting maintenance work done and for collecting data on the work and equipment. However, two elements are present on the form used in every maintenance department:
- Information to locate the machine, equipment or area where work is needed
- A description of the work required
Additional information to aid the technician carrying out the work could include:
- The asset number
- When the work must be done by
- An indication of urgency
- A list of parts needed for the job
- Contact details for the requester (in case further information is needed)
- Information on when the work can or cannot be done (during the daily team meeting, for example)
To gather data for record-keeping and monitoring of maintenance effectiveness it’s common to add additional fields to the form for the technician to compete before returning. This can include:
- Sign off by the area supervisor or work requester
- When the work was done
- A record of how long the work took
- A list of parts and materials or spares used
- Observations on the condition of the asset
How to manage maintenance work orders
The process starts with a maintenance planner reviewing a work request. It’s possible that multiple people have raised the same request or that a decision has been made not to do further maintenance because of impending changes to the machine or area. In circumstances such as these, the request will be denied and the requester notified accordingly.
If the planner determines the work is justified, a work order is generated. This may be assigned to an individual or given to a supervisor who allocates work to individual technicians. Each order has a unique identifier so the number of outstanding orders — a measure of backlog — can be tracked. When spares are issued from stores the requisition will usually be tied to this work order number.
When the technician completes the task, the work order is returned to maintenance administration. Information added will be put into the maintenance records system to build a history for every asset covered. Data may be extracted from these records to measure asset condition, technician skill level, mean time before failure (MTBF) and mean time to repair (MTTR).
Utilizing a CMMS for work orders
Operating a maintenance system, especially on a large site or facility, requires a lot of documentation and record-keeping. Computerized maintenance management systems automate much of that maintenance work order management effort. This increases the productivity of those running the system, improves the amount of relevant information provided to the maintenance technicians and enables more comprehensive performance and asset health monitoring.
A CMMS can offer a range of capabilities depending on the package used and how it has been implemented. Older systems simplify work order form creation, generate scheduled work orders and improve record-keeping. They may also link to maintenance spares systems.
Newer generation CMMSs add analytical functions that can generate maintenance recommendations based on history, usage records and even condition monitoring inputs. They also provide extensive tracking capabilities for managing maintenance effectiveness and to help managers find improvement opportunities.
Effective maintenance needs a formal system
A “bias for action” is common among members of the maintenance team, and while this is admirable it’s essential to record every task, job and repair undertaken. This provides a basis for performance measurement and ensures every request or need is handled in the most effective way.
The core elements of a well-managed maintenance function are a system for requesting attention to an asset on location and the industrial maintenance work order form. For many years these were used within manual record-keeping systems, but today they are handled by the CMMS. This, with a disciplined and systematic approach, ensures necessary maintenance is carried out as and when needed, while avoiding unnecessary effort and cost.