7 Ways to Manage Maintenance Backlog with your CMMS

Erin Ouellette, COGZ Systems

Maintenance Backlog is a measure of maintenance work that is ready to be done, but has not yet been completed. Backlog may be measured in hours or weeks based on the total capacity of the maintenance department. In terms of CMMS, maintenance backlog can be described as Open Work Orders. Backlog is not just work that is past due, but all work that needs to be completed.

When is Maintenance Backlog a Bad Thing?

Some maintenance backlog is a good thing. You want to have enough work orders for your techs to complete when they arrive at work in the morning. A scheduled backlog of one to two weeks (work that is ready to start) with a planning backlog of two to three weeks is a healthy amount of backlog.* Backlog turns into a bad thing when open work orders start stacking up.

What Causes Maintenance Backlog?

Too much maintenance Backlog has a number of causes.

  • Short Staffed: Your maintenance department does not have enough employees to do the job, or employees do not have the skills required.
  • Parts are Unavailable: You may not have the parts in stock at your location, are unable to locate the part or they may be on backorder from the supplier.
  • Work Order Not Performed: Work orders get lost or are overlooked.
  • Breakdowns: Breakdowns occur when preventive maintenance is not performed in a timely manner. Breakdowns take more time to repair and are given a higher priority so preventive work is pushed back further.
  • Equipment is Unavailable: The equipment that needs to be worked on is not available due to production/usage demands.

How does a CMMS Help You Manage Maintenance Backlog?

Whatever the cause of your backlog, the solution is to save time by creating efficiencies in your maintenance department. Properly using a CMMS will help you to create efficiencies in the following ways.

1. Out of Service Efficiency

Shutting down a piece of equipment for maintenance requires scheduling, performance of safety procedures (lock out/tag out), cover removal and travel time. The ability to see all of the open work orders for a piece of equipment tells you which work orders can be completed at the same time. Avoid having to take a machine out of service multiple times by performing all of the work necessary when the equipment is already down. Maximize your efficiency by eliminating unnecessary shutdowns.

2. Perform Precise Preventive Maintenance

Preventive Maintenance is the key to creating efficiencies in your maintenance department. A CMMS allows you be precise with your preventive maintenance scheduling. Over scheduling preventive maintenance wastes resources. Under scheduling preventive maintenance runs the risk of breakdowns. Breakdowns cost an enormous amount of time and money. The scheduling precision offered in a CMMS gives you the flexibility to fine tune the scheduling of preventive maintenance.

CMMS contain reporting capabilities which show open work orders sorted in a variety of ways. Some CMMS applications have a work order reminder which will notify you if work orders become overdue. These functions keep you on track to be as precise as possible with your preventive maintenance, maximizing your productivity.

3. Plan Scheduled Work

Setting priorities for your scheduled work is a good way to manage your backlog. A good CMMS will assist you in prioritizing your open work orders by assigning a type and a priority to each work order. Reporting features will show open work orders sorted by type so that you know which work orders to assign first.

There are a lot of unknowns when performing maintenance on industrial machinery. This can result in spending unnecessary time finding information. Keeping all of the information previously gathered on a piece of equipment in your CMMS is crucial for optimizing the planning process. CMMS Systems store information on warranties, spare parts, cross references and vendors. Proper planning will increase wrench time because technicians will have access to all of the necessary information before the work starts.

4. Assign the right employee to do the job

Assigning the wrong employee to a complex work order will be an inefficient use of resources.  Or worse, it may create rework which will cost your department valuable time and money. A good CMMS contains a record of the skills of each employee. This will help you to create efficiencies by assigning a technician who has the skills to complete the required task.

5. Manage Spare Parts Inventory

Supply chain issues have made out of stock parts the rule rather than the exception. Today it is more important than ever to use your CMMS to effectively manage your spare parts inventory. Out of stock parts can cause long delays and prolong downtime. Expedited freight results in huge cost increases. CMMS stores all of the information on both your equipment your parts. Information such as cross reference numbers as well as detailed vendor information will assist you in locating difficult to find parts. CMMS can also be set up to automatically reorder you when inventory levels fall below a designated point. This ensures that you will avoid running out of necessary parts.

6. Be Mobile

Maintenance happens in the field. Modern CMMS Systems are cloud based and allow you to take your system with you to the job site on a tablet or laptop. A mobile system lets you bring your data to the machine being worked on. Access to all of the information about the equipment and the spare parts required minimizes the amount of time wasted looking for information. The result is maximized wrench time. Additionally maintenance team members may update the system while performing the work. This eliminates travel time from the shop to the office, increasing technician productivity.

7. Use a Work Order Request System

Many CMMS offer Work Order Request systems. These systems allow employees outside of the maintenance department to request work orders. Eliminate people running you down in the hallway and asking for work to be done. Shift the responsibility of requesting work orders away from maintenance department freeing up management’s time. Work Order Requests from an equipment operator results in better information regarding what work is needed because the person who is requesting the work order is directly familiar with the problem. Having all of the information needed avoids sending technicians out without being properly assigned. Properly used, Work order requests limit redundancy and create efficiencies.

Proper planning is the key to managing maintenance backlog. The key to proper planning to is to use your CMMS to its fullest potential. Entering quality information about your equipment, spare parts inventory and employees will ensure that you have all of the information necessary to plan effectively. Maintenance backlog is nearly impossible to manage without a CMMS. CMMS provides the tools required to properly prioritize your work and optimize your maintenance department to reach its fullest potential.


*Reliable Plant: https://www.reliableplant.com/Read/30417/maintenance-backlogs-important

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About the Author

Erin Ouellette is a Product Specialist at COGZ Systems (www.cogz.com). COGZ is a leading provider of comprehensive CMMS Software that is easy to use and enable...