How to Measure and Improve Wrench Time


Maintenance efficiency isn’t just about how long it takes a technician to complete a job. Experienced facilities managers know that it’s also about how long techs spend actually working with their tools, rather than spending time completing paperwork or locating the right parts needed for the job. While these tasks are completely necessary, the goal is to streamlines things as much as possible so technicians focus on the actual job at hand.


Wrench time -- also referred to as tool time -- has become one of the most critical metrics in equipment and facilities maintenance. Technicians logging more wrench time, and less on peripheral and administrative tasks, the better. While this seems like a no brainer, actually implementing the right tools and strategies to improve wrench time does require a bit of focus 

and effort.


Understanding what wrench time really means is the first step. You’ll also need to view wrench time in the context of industry benchmarks. Then, you can begin implementing strategies that ultimately improve wrench time over time.



What Wrench Time is -- and Isn’t


Wrench time isn’t necessarily the aggregate amount of time that technicians spend with wrenches or tools in their hands. Rather, wrench time is viewed as the percentage of total time that techs spend actually fixing things. If someone works ten hours in a day, but only spends two hours total using tools, their wrench time comes out to 20 percent. 


Actually, measuring wrench time can be tricky and is typically done in one of a few different ways. First, you can simply rely on technician self-reporting. This often isn’t the most accurate measure, as you’re relying only on one data point -- the tech. A better way to measure wrench time is called the Day in the Life Of (DILO) approach, where an observer follows a technician around throughout a single day and records various activities. This lets the tech focus on his/her job and provides a more objective measure.  


Yet another, more convenient way to measure wrench time today is through digital work order tracking. Technicians with mobile devices can log their repair activities on a smartphone or tablet, and management can review those logs to reverse engineer wrench times for various techs, departments, or equipment categories.  


Higher wrench times as a percentage mean that technicians are spending more time on their actual job, boosting quality and cost-efficiency. Here are some of the most common tasks that waste tech time throughout the course of a day (and are counted in wrench time measurement): 

  • Travelling to and from location
  • Gathering equipment and parts
  • Reviewing logs and history
  • Administrative paperwork
  • On-site coordination and planning
  • Waiting for machines to become available, power up/down

While some of these tasks are necessary and beyond facility managers’ control, just about every organization has opportunities to significantly improve wrench time.



Industry Benchmarking Related to Wrench Time


For most organizations, standard wrench time ranges between 25 and 30 percent of a technician’s time on the job. But that’s often without advanced scheduling and planning software or a mature maintenance management process. For organizations with the right processes and technologies in place, wrench time can easily exceed 50 percent.


One of the key factors that determines how much wrench time technicians have is whether you’re engaging in reactive, proactive, or predictive maintenance. The further along the maturity curve you are towards predictive maintenance, the more you’ll be able to cut down on time wasters such as the 30 minutes per day on average that employees spend on searching for information.


Predictive maintenance also supports another key industry benchmark, which is schedule compliance. Depending on how efficient your operations are, technicians typically comply with the schedule they’re assigned between 40 and 90 percent of the time. And the higher the schedule compliance, the greater the wrench time.


Companies can increase schedule compliance and wrench time by employing today’s digital transformation solutions on top of SAP PM. An automation solution can help optimize technician schedules to make sure they’re receiving just the right amount of work, their routes are optimized, they have the tools and parts, and the machine to be repaired is available. Add mobile solutions and give technicians all the data they need for each job and keep them in the field/plant where they can spend more time with tools in their hands.



Best Practices for Increasing Wrench Time


To really improve wrench time, you need take a nuanced view of how wrench time is and can be impacted. For example, you’ll need to take Parkinson’s Law into account, which states that the amount of work assigned expands to fill the time available. While it might seem counterintuitive, allotting less time for a specific job to a tech might actually improve their productivity and wrench time.


This is where deploying a Planning and Scheduling solution comes in, enabling you to ensure technicians are productively using their time for a specific job.


“For superior wrench-time productivity, a plant should create weekly schedules loaded with 100% of the next week’s available labor hours,” advises Doc Palmer, a renowned plant maintenance expert and author.


“Management should expect 40% - 90% schedule compliance. Scores below 40% might mean that supervisors aren’t honoring the schedules; scores higher than 90% usually mean schedules aren’t being loaded properly,” writes Palmer.


By implementing a planning and scheduling automation solution for SAP, you can track work orders and technicians’ activities in more detail. You can then spot inefficiencies and opportunities to improve wrench time throughout various aspects of the maintenance process.



Sigga Solutions for Optimizing Wrench Time


The good news is that Sigga provides both mobile EAM and planning and scheduling solutions to make sure technicians are spending more time with wrenches in hand as a percentage of their overall workday. Major beverage maker AmBev, for instance, was using paper work orders and processes for scheduling techs and storing maintenance history.  


This meant technicians weren’t deployed efficiently, and when they were, too much time was spent finding the information they needed instead of performing actual maintenance. By implementing Sigga’s Mobile EAM app -- along with Sigga’s Planning and Scheduling solution -- technicians could quickly and easily locate all the historical data they required.  


In the end, AmBev achieved more wrench time with a 15% increase in tech productivity and 80% reduction in mean time to repair (MTTR). AmBev is just one example of how the right technologies can optimize how techs are deployed and allow them to focus on doing what they do best. 


Wrench time is a more powerful metric than it might appear on the surface. By measuring and evaluating wrench time -- you can begin digging into specific areas within your organization that can be tweaked or improved. You’ll then be able to implement solutions that will increase effective use of your techs and have a concrete impact on your overall resource needs and costs.


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Learn more about how Sigga Solutions can help you improve wrench time.