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for Control

Learning Objectives
By the end of this chapter, you should be able to:

List the seven primary steps in the flow of a

maintenance work order system.
List four primary advantages of using a work
order system.
State the chief difference between a regular
work order and a service order.
List the three major sources of information in
maintenance record keeping.
State the difference between the two major
types of maintenance priority systems.

Use of the basic work order, priority, and record keeping systems is a pre-
requisite for effective maintenance management. All three are closely
related and using all three together in a disciplined systems approach is one
of the fundamentals of maintenance management control. Although most
maintenance organizations now use computer-based management systems,
the basis for good management control is still universal. The manager
should carefully analyze the maintenance control challenges in the particu-
lar organization and design systems that most effectively meet those chal-


Like any other organization, the maintenance organization has many func-
tional responsibilities and uses a number of systems and procedures to manage

38 How to Manage Maintenance

those functions. Each system is integral to the overall control program. When
one system is neglected, the effectiveness of the others is reduced. But the one
system that interfaces with all others, and influences the others the most, is
the work order system.
The work order may be used for planning, communicating, directing,
recording, and tracking the majority of maintenance work activities. All essen-
tial elements of good management are tied up in this single document.
Work orders, whether produced manually or by computer, are similar in
appearance. Exhibit 3-1 shows an example of a typical non-computerized
work order format. If not produced by a computer, a work order generally is
issued in several copies, each copy usually different in color. Typically, copies
go to the person (or team) doing the job, the supervisor, and the work control
office; others may go to the originator of the request or people associated with
accomplishing the work.
In the example shown, four copies are indicated: originator, open copy,
closed copy, and work copy. They are used as follows:

The originator starts the request by entering all pertinent information and
submitting it to maintenance. The originator keeps a copy for follow-up.
(In computerized systems, this copy may be eliminated in favor of a report
listing open work orders by client department.)
The open copy is reviewed and completed by the maintenance supervisor,
the coordinator, or planner. In manual systems, it is kept in a backlog file
of open orders; if computerized, it is passed to data entry to generate open
order/backlog reports.
The closed copy is retained by the supervisor, coordinator, or planner until
the work is completed. Information supplied by the person(s) doing the
job (such as cause, effect, downtime, work done, parts used, and comple-
tion details) is entered. In modern computerized systems, the worker who
does the job might enter this information directly into the computer, and
the supervisor or others could review and add other pertinent details
before closing out the order.
The work copy serves as the actual order to perform the work and provides
instructions for the worker who does the job. It generally contains suffi-
cient information to act as a plan for the job. For larger jobs, however, a
planning sheet and drawings (discussed in Chapter 6) accompany the work

Work orders are used to communicate requests to perform specific jobs.

The requests come from many sources, both outside as well as within the
maintenance department. Work orders authoritize that jobs may be under
taken and that expenditures may be made. They indicate the location where
the work should be done, the equipment (or thing) that should be worked on,
and the method to follow. The specific method may simply allow mechanics
or technicians to apply their knowledge, or it may be described in specific
detail if more complex jobs are involved. Finally, the work order indicates the
priority of each job.
39 How to Manage Maintenance
40 How to Manage Maintenance

It is desirable to have at least 80 percent of all assigned work covered by

formal work orders, although ideally, every job request should be converted
into a written work order. To achieve this would require commitment from
every level of management within the facility. Realistically, this commitment
will come only if the advantages of using work orders can be demonstrated.
Some of the advantages written work orders provide are:

Job identification and follow-up.

Accurate cost data for departments, jobs, equipment, and the entire facil-
Means of accumulating backlog and work load for planning and schedul-
History (cause and effect) of what was done and the methods and tools
Methods to measure estimating effectiveness.
More accurate assignment of jobs, by priority.
Cost estimates and technical approval of the work.

Work order numbers (or authority numbers) are used to track work
requests. For larger jobs, the work order number can be adjusted or modified
with suffixes to identify and assign different elements of a job or project (such
as utilities, piping, construction work, or electrical shop). These suffixes can
also be used to identify the points on project management diagrams, such as
those generated by CPM or PERT systems (computerized work scheduling

Cost Information
Cost information related to work order activity generally comes from two
separate documents. These are the job card (or labor ticket) for labor
expended; and the stores issue slip for materials used. (The job card and labor
ticket might be two separate documents in some organizations.) In any event,
it is the work order number that pulls the information from these sources
together. This allows costs for material and labor to be distributed to accounts
such as: type of work, cost center, crafts, equipment, department, or capital
For example, the job card or labor ticket shown in Exhibit 3-2 is filled
out by each person who has worked on the job order. (For on-line, real-time
computerized systems, workers might do the same thing by entering the
information on a computer terminal located somewhere in the facility.) The
work order number, employee number, and skill code identify what job is
being reported on and who did the work. The supervisor usually reviews and
verifies the information before it is sent forward; the planning function might
also review it to check estimated times. Overtime is segregated by type (such
as time-and-a half, double time, etc.), as it might require special authorization
or review.
41 How to Manage Maintenance
42 How to Manage Maintenance

In simple one- or two-person jobs, the work order itself can be used for
capturing the actual time and skill codes used. If the job is more extensive, the
job card or labor ticket method of recording information is more successful.
As with labor, material usage information might also be entered in a com-
puterized system. If not, a stores issue slip, shown in Exhibit 3-3, is prepared.
It shows the unique work order number, the material issued, and the cost allo-
cated. Some computerized systems store the price of each item, so only the
part number (or kinds/amounts of materials used) and work order number are
43 How to Manage Maintenance

required. Again, review by the supervisor or the planning department might

be part of the procedure.
A final comparison of job estimates with the actual times and, materials
needed to perform the job provides a way of determining the effectiveness of

Source of Communication
As noted earlier, active work orders communicate to all parties what jobs are to
be done, when, where, and by what method. When jobs are finished, a com-
pleted work order serves as a form of communication for updating historical
data files. It is important to capture relevant information concerning equipment
items on which work has been performed. The more complete and accurate the
information, the better the planning and scheduling is for future work.
In-process work orders (for jobs scheduled but not yet completed) serve to
communicate time allocations for the skills needed to complete upcoming jobs;
they also serve as a source of backlog information for the entire future mainte-
nance load in the facility.
Exhibit 3-4 shows a typical work order flow diagram. It shows, for every
request made, the steps taken and the personnel involved in completing and fil-
ing a work order. (The one major exception to the rule of "a work order for
every request" would be when a request for a response to an emergency is
received. An emergency is defined as an interruption of vital equipment or ser-
vices or a serious safety situation. In that case, the maintenance response should
be started without a work order, and documented later as time permits.)
Exhibit 3 -4 depicts the flow of a manual work order system; a computer-
ized system would be similar, but some of the "flow" might be accomplished
within the computer, thus saving time, effort, and cost.
Many maintenance managers complain that producing a work order for
every job performed creates a blizzard of paperwork, particularly since the
majority of jobs are small. Further, they allege it "takes more time -. to prepare
and document a work order than to do the work." Studies coonductedin dozens
of plants over a 10-year period show that the type of industry has an impact on
the difference in hours required for large or small jobs. Indeed, on the average,
60 percent of work orders represented only 10 percent of the time spent in get-
ting all work done. Exhibits 3-5 and 3-6 show the results of two such studies.
The argument to remember in favor of work orders is that they help manage-
ment guarantee plant integrity; protect investments; help ensure safety; follow
government regulations; avoid legal liability; and promote good management
principles, training, and quality guidance. These and other strong reasons sup-
port the goal of having most, if not all, work directed via a well-designed work
order system.


Some organizations use service orders to complement their work order sys-
tem. Service orders can be issued as substitutes for separate work orders;
44 How to Manage Maintenance
45 How to Manage Maintenance

they usually relate to small jobs. Generally, the service order is a formal
request for work to be done by authority of a standing work order for a
given department or cost center. While the request itself is important for
maintaining control and discipline, it also provides some flexibility in order-
ing the work to be done. Service orders should be scheduled like any other
work to maintain control and avoid an overabundance of emergency
requests. And they should be closed out like regular work orders to provide
visibility on labor and cost distributions and pertinent history entries to
equipment files.

Small Jobs
Each service order should be identified by a unique number that ties it to a
larger, or standing, work order. The requester need only use the assigned
46 How to Manage Maintenance

service order number to initiate the job, get required approvals if necessary,
and describe what work or task is being requested. To effectively employ
service orders, each organization must decide what size job or task is to be
covered by each service request. Generally, the service order is used for jobs
that represent about 10 percent of the total hours, yet account for more
than 50 percent of the paperwork. In all probability, these are jobs requir-
ing one to four hours or less of labor. In one plant, 70 percent of the work
orders may represent 18 percent of the workload, and those jobs usually
take less than four hours each.

Emergency Service Orders

Service orders are often used as a request for emergency work although this
may or may not be an appropriate use of the service order concept. Few of
these small emergency jobs provide significant historic data for the files, but
if they do, the information should be captured through the review process
after the work is completed, and the pertinent information should be placed
in the cost and equipment history records.


Open work orders may also be called standing work orders. Often they are
confused with the maintenance backlog (scheduled jobs that have not yet
been done). Understandably, these terms of reference are confusing. To clar-
ify, an open work order is a pre-approved work authorization that may be
accessed when needed by a requester or by the maintenance department.
These open work orders tend to become catch-alls for any and all work, lead-
ing to a loss of management control. However, control can be regained by
establishing that a fixed percent of the total hours of work in a given area or
department should be represented by open order work. Once that level is
exceeded on a weekly, monthly, or other monitored basis, the maintenance
manager is alerted to the possible loss of control and can take corrective mea-
sures. For backlog purposes, the fixed percent of open order work becomes a
constant in the forecast, although sophisticated managers might adjust the
figures as a result of production, seasonal, or other factors.


Shown below is a general outline of the flow of a typical work order. The
procedure and personnel responsibilities might vary between manual (non-
computerized) and computerized maintenance systems. Use Exhibit 3-4 as a

I. Originator:
A. Prepares work order request and completes all information available
or pertinent at the time.
47 How to Manage Maintenance

B. Retains copy for follow-up or reference.

C. Obtains or provides authorization or approval.

II. Maintenance Manager (or assigned personnel):

A. Screens for pertinent information.
B. Approves/reviews with originator or management (if necessary).
C. Approves for scheduling in the work order system.

III. Planner or Scheduler (or other assigned personnel):

A. Assigns work order number, if needed, and authority number.
B. Plans method, materials, drawings, external services.
C. Estimates labor and material.
D. Reviews work order for all pertinent information.
E. Prepares a work schedule for the job.
1. Thinks in terms of backlog, preventive maintenance, and service
2. Integrates into daily, weekly, monthly, etc., schedules.
3. Reviews with supervisors, craft workers, stores.
F Orders/arranges/expedites materials.
G. Places the work into the backlog file or data base.
H. Reviews completed work order for completeness and compares with
I. Monitors progress of work in process vs. schedule.
J. Prepares management information reports. Examples include:
1. Backlog.
2. Equipment history, downtime, etc.
3. Overtime.
4. Work completion, project status, variance analysis.
5. Special reports as directed.

IV Supervisor (foreman):
A. Reviews scheduling and planning and details of job.
B. Assigns work to a selected employee.
C. Supervises work, serves as resource, expedites changes.
D. Ensures job is completed to the satisfaction of the customer.
E. Reviews completed work order, returns it to control center.
E Reconciles labor charges with proper jobs.
G. Reviews weekly reports and seeks performance improvements.

V Mechanic (technician):
A. Performs work directed by the work order.
B. Records time and materials used on correct forms.
C. Writes comments and delay information on the order.
D. Requisitions additional materials as needed.
E. Records completion date, downtime, cause and effect, and other
appropriate information.
F Reviews work with supervisor, requester, and other appropriate per-
sonnel who are involved with the job or its effect.
48 How to Manage Maintenance

VI. Materials Department (or storekeeper):

A. Reviews supply documents to provide relevant materials informa-
tion to the planner, mechanic, and others.
B. Adds cost information and forwards materials usage information to
work control center or accounting.
C. Generates oversight reports as directed for management.

VII. Accounting:
A. Distributes expense information against designated accounts, cost
centers, programs, areas, user departments, etc., as directed by
B. Reviews cost and budget information and variances.

Work Order System Advantages

To review, the primary advantages of work order systems are:

They provide an efficient means of requesting, assigning, and following up

on work done by maintenance personnel.
They provide a method of transmitting written instructions on how work
is to be done.
They provide a method of estimating and accumulating actual mainte-
nance costs by machine, facility, cost center, and department; and support
issues of planning, quality, and cost control.
They provide the data needed to prepare management information reports,
upon which corrective action may be taken.

Priority systems help establish the importance and, consequently, the order
in which maintenance jobs should be performed. It is evident that a well-run
maintenance function cannot operate effectively without a priority system to
which all affected parties have agreed. To maintain support and commitment,
the system must be developed with input from all sections of the facility. This
leads to more objective thinking in the assessment of priorities and type of
work values, and in the order in which work will be done. Even the simplest
priority system is better than none.
The most important aspect of a priority system is the frame of reference
it provides for scheduling work. Jobs that are most important or critical to
the operation of the facility or plant should be done first. Logically, jobs that
are necessary, but do not require immediate attention, should be scheduled
for a future date. Central to every priority system is some concept of safety,
and safety-related jobs must be assigned top priority. In most maintenance
priority systems an identifying number or symbol is used to designate a
period of time during which a work order request is to be completed.
49 How to Manage Maintenance

Emergencies that threaten lives or could cause serious

injuries. Work required immediately because it affects
scheduled operation of equipment, building, or utilities.
Immediate attention.

Important day-to-day repairs that are necessary for

equipment or building preservation. No immediate threat
of equipment or building failures, but potential threat of
deterioration with neglect (for example, slow leaks, signs
of wear, and minor rearrangements). This category
would include PM schedule and safety items that require
correction, but do not present an immediate hazard. It
also includes routine, repetitive work done daily, or in
cycles, during the current week. One to five days after
work order is received.

Jobs similar to urgent routine (except PM), but also

includes minor rearrangements, alterations, new safety
devices, and modifications. Seven to ten days after work
order is received.

Equipment or building modifications that can be sched-

uled. These would include project work, jobs waiting for
materials or those that require engineering, and planned
equipment overhauls. They would also include any alter-
ations or cosmetic improvements of safety devices that
are sufficient for current conditions. Three to five weeks
after request. However, the priority would become No. 1
on the day it was scheduled to begin.

The 1,2,3,4 System

One of the most widely used priority systems is the 1,2,3,4 System. Exhibit
3-7 illustrates one example of this system. There are several "time-to-com-
plete" definitions of the 1,2,3,4 System. A popular one is:

1. Emergency-now.
2. Urgent-within five days.
3. Routine-five to ten days.
4. Deferred-two to five weeks.
50 How to Manage Maintenance

The major shortcoming of the 1,2,3,4 System of priorities is that no

matter how it is defined, it is not completely objective, nor does it set values
to determine which emergency in which department or area should be han-
dled first. Compounding this problem, most clients using maintenance ser-
vices consider their need to be the most pressing. This can lead to abuse of
the priority system and to excessive requests for emergency service. How-
ever, a written definition of each priority category inhibits the number of
emergency requests. While the 1,2,3,4 System does not define which request
is most important, maintenance managers can rely on their own knowledge
of plant responsibilities and operations to determine relative rank of prob-
lems. The drawback to this type of subjective judgment is that it frequently
favors the client who complains the loudest.
There are a number of more objective priority systems that use a combi-
nation of comparative equipment values, plus values that represent the type
of work to be performed (such as emergency, routine, project, preventive
maintenance, or deferred). For example, adding a comparative value to a
piece of equipment helps determine which pieces should be worked on first,
and the 1,2,3,4 System can then set values for indicating when to do those
jobs. There are many variations of these dual value systems. Some use two
sets of numbers to identify work and equipment, while others use an alpha
numeric system.

The Alpha Numeric System

In the Alpha Numeric System, the classification of work to be done is shown
by an alpha symbol, such as: A equals Safety/Emergency; B equals Urgent;
C equals Routine; D equals Deferred; E equals Future Schedule. The prior-
ity is then shown by a number from 1 to 10, with 10 representing the high-
est priority value based on the importance of the equipment to the operation
of the plant. A process pump that has no in-line replacement might rate a
priority of 10. The same pump, if it had a parallel pump in-line for back-up,
might rate a priority of 8. Sidewalks and grounds might rate a priority of 3,
since no great adverse impact would occur if repair work to these were
delayed. Thus, the selected priorities for these examples might be expressed
as B-10, C-8, and D-3. Even so, judgment still enters into the priority
No matter what the numerical value of the work order request, if it is an
"A/Safety" request, it should receive immediate response because a safety
problem could pose a hazard or be a serious threat to life if not corrected
immediately. However sophisticated a priority system is, the experience and
judgment of the maintenance manager and supervisors must be applied to
the work schedule. For example, an A-7 job might be the job to be done
first, but the supervisor might decide to temporarily bypass the situation by
roping off the area and posting a security guard. This would permit the allo-
cation of critical skills to an important job in production first, and returning
to the safety task later.
51 How to Manage Maintenance

Effective management requires the use of current and historical information
to assist in making technical and business decisions in maintenance. Good
information helps avoid guesswork. Reporting systems are the channels
through which appropriate information flows to the people who need it to
make informed decisions. The nature of maintenance is such that reporting
systems figure heavily in daily activities.
Every level of management uses information in making decisions. Some
examples of decisions related to maintenance activities might be:

High-level decisions to replace a production process line because of high

operating costs.
The production department's decision to call a planned shutdown because
of excessive downtime losses.
An engineering decision to rebuild, redesign, or replace certain plant
The financial department's decision to recommend replacing certain
equipment because repair costs are exceeding depreciation reserves.
A plant manager's decision to review maintenance staffing needs due to a
reduced backlog of work requests.
A top management decision to embark on a continuous improvement pro-
gram because of increased automation and robotics.

These decisions are aided considerably by accurate and pertinent support

data. Better decisions result from better information. A discussion of reports
that relate specifically to maintenance management issues will be found in
Chapter 8. The section that follows deals with reports that are based on data
that maintenance gathers on an ongoing basis.

Record Keeping Systems

Most maintenance managers maintain either a manual (noncomputerized) or
a computerized record keeping system. Central source information comes
principally from:

1. The work order.

2. Material and parts usage (stores issue slip).
3. Labor expenditure records (labor ticket).

These sources provide a wide array of detailed information that form the
basis for routine or special reports, including:

Costs. These are recorded and distributed many ways.

Engineering Data. Cause and effect of breakdowns. The visibility from this
information alone often justifies the entire work order record keeping efforts.
52 How to Manage Maintenance

Effectiveness Measures. Actual time and costs versus estimates, on a job-by-

job, cost center, product area, project, or entire facility basis.
Skills Required and Skills Used. It is important to know how much of each skill
is required and how much is available, both currently and in the future.
Log of Maintenance Work. Control and listing all maintenance work is
important for reference and tracking progress.
Types of Maintenance Activity. Divided by types of activity and skills used.
The types usually include: preventive maintenance; predictive mainte-
nance; routine maintenance; project work; cycle work; emergencies; rear-
rangement work; and other tasks unique to the facility in question. The
type categories help flag a review of high demands in any account.
Equipment History. The total activity and costs can be determined for each
piece of designated equipment, system, integrated line, or other defined
item. Such data can lead to a critical review of any equipment item that
costs more to operate and repair than it's worth, in terms of its current
depreciation reserve.
Priority Reporting. A proper distribution of priorities is essential to the con-
trol of schedules and completion of planned jobs. Reporting on this basis
helps to identify the areas where realistic priorities need closer attention.
Service Orders. Controls on service orders require records so that manage-
ment can see when the acceptable level for these is exceeded.
Downtime Records. By definition, downtime is "the interruption of scheduled
operations due to some unplanned event or failure." To plan corrective action
that leads to more uptime, a record of downtime information is necessary.

Computer Versus Manual Systems

The difference between computerized and manual (noncomputerized) sys-
tems is not only the degree of sophistication, but also the amount of time
consumed to acquire and process decision-making information. It is often
the question of whose time is involved. The less clerical time used, the more
time a highly paid professional must spend massaging the data for specific
decision making. Computerized systems rapidly process input information in
many ways and present a variety of management "looks" that aid in making
Computerized maintenance management systems are almost universally
used in maintenance functions today. However, they are not absolutely nec-
essary to achieve a first-rate maintenance capability. What is more important
is to have a vision of what is needed to manage maintenance at a particular
site and then develop systems of operation and controls to achieve the
desired goals. Computerized systems unquestionably are an asset when they
are well-conceived and correctly supported. Such systems are useful in creat-
ing graphics that show the impact and trends of designated activities. To
track trends, a series of small graphs or bar charts are helpful, such as those
shown in Exhibit 3-8. By reviewing two or three pages of such graphs, it is
possible for managers to see exactly what is happening in the areas that inter-
est them most. The graphs are even more meaningful when they indicate
established goals, as shown in Exhibit 3-8.
53 How to Manage Maintenance
54 How to Manage Maintenance

The maintenance organization has many functional responsibilities and uses
a number of integrated systems and procedures to manage those functions.
The basic work order, priority, and record keeping systems are fundamental
to maintenance management control. Whether these systems are computer-
ized or manual is simply a matter of degree of sophistication, although today
most maintenance departments do use computerized systems, which can rap-
idly process information.
Work orders are usually used for planning, communicating, directing,
recording, and tracking work activities, and may come from sources both
within and outside of the company. They give the maintenance staff such
information as where the work should be performed, what method to use to
get the job done, and what priority each job deserves. Work orders also pro-
vide information on scheduling and cost and are helpful in compiling man-
agement information reports, upon which corrective action might be taken.
Priority systems are used to establish the importance and, thus, the order
in which maintenance jobs are performed. Typical priority systems are the l,
2, 3, 4 System and the Alpha Numeric System. Central to both of these sys-
tems is the concept of safety; safety-related jobs are always assigned top pri-
ority, followed by jobs that are most critical to the operation of the facility.
Even the simplest priority system leads to more objective thinking about the
order in which work should be completed.
Record keeping, or reporting, systems are channels through which
appropriate information flows to the people who need it most. These systems
allow managers to rely upon historical data regarding staffing, equipment
operating costs, work order requests, and so forth, when making mainte-
nance decisions and preparing routine or special reports.
55 How to Manage Maintenance

1. The work order request most essential to maintenance manage- 1. (d)

ment controls is initiated by the:
(a) production manager.
(b) maintenance manager or supervisor.
(c) superintendent.
(d) any of the above.

2. To maintain the discipline of the work order system, a written 2. (a)

work order should be issued for each job. An exception to this rule
occurs when:
(a) there is an emergency.
(b) the work will be done by outside contractors.
(c) the president requests the work.
(d) there is overstaffing.

3. is required to ensure success of a disciplined work 3. (a)

order system.
(a) Total management commitment
(b) Daily collection of data
(c) A forceful foreman
(d) A computerized management system

4. A service order is used for: 4. (c)

(a) large jobs.
(b) special projects.
(c) small jobs.
(d) everyday, routine work.

5. The work order system is the chief source of all historic data. This 5. (d)
helps in decisions concerning:
(a) costs and budgets.
(b) design and replacement needs.
(c) schedules, estimating, and planning.
(d) all of the above.
56 How to Manage Maintenance

6. The most popular priority system is the: 6. (a)

(a) 1,2,3,4 System.
(b) Alpha Numeric System.
(c) Requester Choice System.
(d) High Value Equipment System.

7. Some priority systems are more objective because they 7. (b)

the equipment used and the type of work performed.
(a) estimate the prices of
(b) place comparative values on
(c) place a limit on
(d) carefully identify

8. Effective maintenance management requires informa- 8. (a)

tion for making decisions of an economic and technical nature.
(a) historic and current
(b) detailed
(c) engineering
(d) breakdown

9. The three sources of maintenance record keeping are: 9. (a)

(a) the work order, labor usage, and materials usage.
(b) the priority system, labor usage, and materials usage.
(c) the service order, graphic illustrations, and materials usage.
(d) computer reports, work orders, and required drawings.

10. A basic element of priority systems is that jobs involving 10. (c)
must be scheduled for earliest possible completion.
(a) production
(b) personnel comfort
(c) safety
(d) large projects