In demand-driven production companies schedule your maintenance times before you schedule your customer orders

Production want reliable machines that are trouble-free. They want equipment that they can trust will complete a scheduled production run without problems. All that Maintenance has to do is show Production exactly how to do that.



Dear Mike,

My name is Rina, from Indonesia. I just found out about your website and it seems interesting. I work as an administrative staff for Maintenance Department in a manufacturing company.

The thing is, my company is a demand-based manufacturing operation, where we produce based on customer orders. This situation sometimes makes it hard for the maintenance department to make a plan because we do not receive any information from Production about the product that is going to be processed. The maintenance department only acts based on the work order sent from the Production floor. The company just started Maintenance administration this year, and all data that I received is new.

What I want to ask you is, as an administrative staff I want to make a plan, or at least a schedule, for the maintenance department (preventive and corrective maintenance) and I wonder where should I start.

I already collect all historical data of maintenance work and try to get some information from it. I also try to make an information flowchart that links from Production department to maintenance department. But I am still struggling about how to at least make some plan for the maintenance department to make it easier to do the work.

Best regards — Rina



Hello Rina,

The only time that a maintenance plan will be implemented successfully is when equipment maintenance is seen as vital to Production success. You must create a situation where Production knows that doing maintenance helps them to meet their production schedule.

Fortunately, Production want machines which they can rely on when the equipment is needed. They will support a maintenance strategy that maximises production uptime and equipment utilisation. You must develop such a maintenance strategy and explain to them how doing the right maintenance brings them more production uptime.

There are three things that you can do in a just-in-time demand driven operation to maintain your equipment in proper condition.

First is to book maintenance time into the Production Plan well in advance of any scheduled production. You must put the maintenance outages into the Production Plan months ahead so that maintenance is the first action scheduled by Production into their Production Plan. Production must then schedule customer orders around the time reserved for maintenance. If Production must move the maintenance window, they can move it no more than 10% earlier or later along the scheduled, e.g. maintenance done every twelve weeks cannot be moved to more than a week later. Also, they cannot cut more than 10% off the required time duration to do the maintenance, e.g. an ten hour outage cannot be shortened to less than 9 hours.

In each maintenance outage plan you list all the machines to be worked-on during the shutdown with all the work orders to be done on each machine. You show how long each work order will take from start to finish, and when it will start and end. You display that information on an easy to read bar chart.

You have already started collecting failure history and identifying what maintenance to do to prevent the failure. You can also collect the required maintenance work from manufacturer’s manuals, product quality requirements, preventive maintenance to be done to change parts out before failure, and condition monitoring checks to find parts that are starting to fail and plan their replacement before they break.

Production equipment must be cared-for if machines are to be available and reliable for scheduled production. This requires that machinery be maintained so that it does not fail during a production run. When Production makes the connection between doing maintenance, and getting reliable production equipment that makes good quality product, you have achieved the first requirement.

Secondly, you must keep your maintenance outage durations very tight and they must be completed on-time. That will require:

  • world class, detailed maintenance planning and preparation so that absolutely nothing is missed,
  • only small crews of highly competent, multi-skilled technicians are used,
  • an excellent supply chain so and all materials and parts are on-site and in perfectly good condition,
  • SMED-like work task scheduling and job scheduling so every unnecessary second is removed from each work order and from the outage, and
  • military-grade work control during the outage so the outage timeline is guaranteed.

Production must know that everything humanly possible is done during maintenance outages to maximise production uptime.

Third, you must improve the equipment reliability so production machines do not fail for twice and three times longer than what they now do. As reliability improves you extend the time between maintenance outages; eventually to double, and then triple, the current time between outages.

To get such levels of plant and equipment reliability you again need Production Department support. They must run and operate equipment so its working parts are always under low material-of-construction stress. For the most success this requires writing best practise operating procedures explaining how to run machines failure-free. The procedure explains how their machinery is engineered and how it is run to get the greatest reliability from it. Then your equipment operators are trained to become world class operators who exactly follow the operating procedure.

Maintenance too must create more reliability. To do that the maintenance crew must learn and adopt world class maintenance practises that ensure equipment is always under low material of construction stress. For the most success this requires writing best practise maintenance procedures explaining how to maintain your machines defect-free. The procedure explains how their machinery is engineered and how it is cared-for to get the greatest reliability from it. Then your maintenance crew are trained to become world class maintainers who exactly follow the maintenance procedure.

Once you get more reliability you will surely get longer times for more production because your machines do not need to stop so often for maintenance outages.

Let me know if you have more questions.


My best regards to you,

Mike Sondalini
Managing Director
Lifetime Reliability Solutions HQ


PS. If you require advice on industrial asset management, industrial equipment maintenance strategy, defect elimination and failure prevention best practise or plant and equipment maintenance and reliability, please feel free to contact me by email at