Planning and Scheduling in industrial maintenance may be distinct and straightforward concepts, but they often get mixed.
One of the challenges when distinguishing one from the other is understanding where planning ends and where Scheduling begins.
Since both processes run together, it's essential to understand the difference between the two. Read further to understand and help clarify any doubts you may have.
A brief introduction to Maintenance Planning
Maintenance planning is often confused with project planning.
Maintenance planning happens in cycles. These cycles are developed starting with a long-term view and are progressively implemented in steps until they end in short-term tasks.
Why does it work this way?
It's simple. Anyone who's worked as a maintenance planner has probably come across a very long list of maintenance orders, not knowing where to start and what to consider when prioritizing these orders.
Understanding each stage of the process and having a broad view of organized flows helps Planners decide what is most important, enabling them to prioritize activities based on previously established rules.
Therefore, it's essential to plan the division of labor in a workflow that provides an overall view of the organization and the required tasks. This practice will give the Planner the best information to make better decisions.
Planners are decision-makers
The Planner is responsible for performing complex analyses and making appropriate maintenance decisions in the short, medium, and long term.
In many cases, Planners end up doing the scheduling work as well. But we need to ensure their allocation to the maintenance cycle's strategic parts, which is where the Planner's view and expertise are most needed.
The Scheduling process requires a lot of attention and thinking time. Proper solutions can help and improve the time these professionals dedicate to Scheduling. With an appropriate solution, the system becomes responsible for refining what the algorithm does and making decisions.
With the solution managing the tasks for calculations and routine work, the maintenance planning professional becomes free to do what no technology can do alone:
- Plan long-term, medium-term maintenance.
- Understand the best times to perform short-term maintenance, using information from planned dates and people/equipment calendars.
- Determine the best ways to allocate resources in the short term.
In this way, the maintenance professional works much more effectively and efficiently.
In short, the Planner should not be a professional focused on "putting out fires" but a strategist who will make the maintenance area more efficient.
Planning cycles: long, medium, and short term
We talked about the importance of the division of labor and about setting priorities in different time frames. But what does that mean, exactly?
- Short-term commonly refers to a weekly schedule.
- Medium-term refers to monthly, bimonthly, or quarterly planning.
- Long-term refers to annual planning and often includes the yearly maintenance budget.
Best practices for planning cycles mean that we start from the macro and go to the micro. The reasoning here is as follows: what can we do in a year? Then, what can we do in a few months? And finally, what can we do this week?
In the planning cycle, we work the same way we work in Scheduling, only that for planning, you focus on the long term or what others call "the big picture."
Understanding this subtle but essential difference makes maintenance work, in many ways, much more intelligent and strategic.
So, what is the difference between Maintenance Planning and Scheduling?
Scheduling an activity is a more immediate task. Schedulers need to know what day, what time, and what resources will be available.
In planning, there is no need to set the date and time for tasks. The requirement is to manage the activity by setting the order for the necessary tasks in that period (either week, month, or another time frame.)
From that point on, the Planner defines what will be done and how.
How technology improves processes: Ambev success story
It's very likely that you already know Ambev. Ambev is part of Anheuser-Busch InBev, the largest brewing conglomerate in the world. Like all manufacturing and production companies, Ambev still had processes that needed improvement in Planning and Scheduling.
Studies identified significant time losses in planning and executing maintenance. These studies also found low quality in data and maintenance order history. It so happens that, at that time, Ambev did not yet have a fully mobile enterprise asset management system (EAM).
Some of the main problems Ambev Planners and schedulers faced in this period were:
- Excessive time transforming notifications into maintenance orders.
- Excessive time dedicated to printing maintenance orders and their respective procedures.
- Information was lost, and data was unreliable because maintenance staff had insufficient access to computers.
- High cost of paper and printing
To solve AmBev's problem, Sigga offered software that brings together a set of modules fully integrated with SAP PM.
Some of the improvements and advances in maintenance routines include:
Implementing Sigga's Planning & Scheduling together with Sigga's Mobile EAM was essential to achieve these results. We believe that the combination of quality planning and Scheduling + cutting-edge solutions can make your industry take significant steps towards operational excellence.
Sigga's solutions for Maintenance Planning and Scheduling
Maintenance routines face critical challenges related to resources, prioritization of activities, and the complexity of access to information.
Sigga's Planning & Scheduling solution is built on addressing Planners' and Maintenance staff's pain points, such as:
- Task execution reliability
- Data quality
- Planning and scheduling optimization
- Service execution control and asset monitoring
Sigga's solutions have configurable dynamic rules, adaptable to each Sigga customer's specific realities; that is, the rules are entirely created and configured by the customers.
These rules allow the system's algorithm to strategically resolve the backlog and create suggestions for automatic Scheduling.
In addition to the benefits above, our Planning & Scheduling solution can enable batch updates to improve full-process integration with SAP data.
It also has several configurations connected to the ability matrix that allows matching technicians' certifications and expertise with tasks for specific equipment types. The solution also includes an equipment downtime calendar to indicate maintenance opportunities, fully integrated into the planning process.
The diversity of Planning & Scheduling functions is vast and reaches the flow of Maintenance Planning and Scheduling from end to end. Gantt charts, dashboards, material overview, resource availability, inventory alerts also help planners and programmers.
All of this can be done in simulation mode, allowing the person responsible for planning or scheduling to simulate different scenarios without worry. All information will only be updated in SAP after the user approves it.
Does it seem challenging for you and your business to manage your planning and scheduling processes, tasks, and activities?
You're not alone.
Here at Sigga, part of our mission is to help our customers to embrace, adapt, and overcome these challenges.
HOW WE CAN HELP
Sigga‘s almost 2 decades’ experience in SAP integration, asset management, and industrial maintenance solutions can efficiently guide you and your company through the process. You can partner with a company trusted by global industry giants such as ABInbev, Bunge, Danone, Petrobras, and Saint-Gobain.
Sigga’s solutions allow you to optimize your data flow, execute maintenance routines, eliminate unproductive tasks, excessive unnecessary shifts, and reduce paper usage to zero.
Using Sigga’s EAM Product Suite greatly facilitates executing your asset management strategy objectives as well as reaching your asset performance and productivity goals.
Enable your company’s digital transformation. Learn more about Sigga’s Solutions portfolio.