Maintenance KPI to use for in-the-field maintenance crew work performance measurement and maintenance reliability best practices improvement

“My previous experience was more on the reactive side of maintenance, especially the way I see it now after starting your Maintenance Planning and Scheduling modules and going through the LRS Global website. Right now it’s very clear that way is the wrong way to do and manage maintenance.”



Dear Mike,

How would you tackle the opportunity to make improvements in maintenance performance?

In particular, how can I approach the use of maintenance kpi so that I don’t just get graphs for weekly and monthly maintenance performance reports, but I measure the effectiveness when maintenance is actually done in the workplace?

I want to know how to develop maintenance KPI and how to choose those KPI that would reflect the actual maintenance scenario in the field so I can introduce the most effective maintenance best practices to my crew.

Sincerely, Hassan



Hello Hassan,

It sounds like you want maintenance KPI’s specifically for monitoring and improving maintenance work productivity; along with KPIs for measuring the resulting impact on equipment reliability after maintenance intervention.

For an introduction to business key performance indicators covering their development and use you can read our PDF publication Business Strategy Management With KPI. It will give you important insights and know-how to develop business KPI (and also maintenance KPI).

The selection of effective and useful KPI for maintenance performance, productivity and reliability measurement of in-the-field work is a much more demanding request to satisfy.

Maintenance crew performance is notoriously inefficient. Even with today’s best maintenance planning and scheduling processes maintenance work efficiency is only around 50% tool-time (i.e. when your maintainers are working on plant and equipment). So where is the other half of your maintenance crew’s time going if it’s not spent on equipment maintenance and reliability? That apparent inefficiency may not be a real issue. I remember my supervisor telling me of a company he worked in where management took the view that they were happy when the crew was not busy, as it meant there were few maintenance problems. The company left some crew members underutilized ready to be reallocated to necessary maintenance work as it arose. These people would have low tool-time efficiency but the operation would have higher uptime. That’s not such a crazy idea if the extra plant availability pays handsomely for the maintenance crew efficiency losses!

The best way to measure maintenance crew performance is by observation of the maintenance crew’s performance. This means you go and observe exactly what the crew is doing. Do a number of observations at random times over a month, as a single observation will never give you a sound and defendable understanding of the range of issues your maintenance crew faces from day-to-day. The methodology I suggest you apply is Lean Value Stream Mapping. You can get a good idea of what Value Stream Mapping (VSM) is about from our explanation article How to do Value Stream Mapping. You will need to identify the process occurring and draw it first so you have a process to value stream map.

An alternative way to measure maintenance crew efficiency and effectiveness is to construct a survey form with a set of insightful questions and a graded answer scale (e.g. from ‘prevents successful outcome’ through to ‘promotes successful outcome’) and get your peoples’ input on what frustrates their efforts to deliver high maintenance productivity in your company.

How do you measure the true effect of maintenance work on future equipment reliability? We already know from the December 1978 Nolan and Heap Reliability-Centered Maintenance Report that maintenance interventions cause most early-life failures. In the vast majority of cases equipment infant mortality is the result of maintenance or operating human error. Wrong engineering choices, manufacturing mistakes and supply chain calamities are also causes.

The common, but mistaken, measure used for equipment reliability is ‘mean time between failure’ for repairable equipment, and ‘mean time to failure’ for non-repairable equipment. These measures are only true for situations of random failure. Early life failures are not random events. Equally, wear-out or aging failures are not random. Any MTBF and MTTF measure used as maintenance and reliability KPI which include early-life and aging failures are meaningless measures.

A very effective way to monitor the impact of maintenance work on equipment reliability is to keep a run chart of all maintenance done on an asset showing the dates the maintenance is done and recording what was done. For each maintenance intervention list the work performed, the parts replaced or repaired, the failure evidence observed, and the known causes of the maintenance work. When the same parts fail for the same causes you can infer the reliability due to maintenance intervention.

A proactive measure I use to check the likely effects of maintenance intervention is to review the maintenance work quality standards specified and the proof measurements to be recorded in the job procedure. Where there is no world class quality standard set there can be no guarantee of world class reliability.

I hope the above is of use to you in addressing your questions.


All the best 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 or plant and equipment maintenance and reliability, please feel free to contact me by email at