Friday, May 11, 2012

Question from the Field: Maintenance Ready Backlog

So what is maintenance ready backlog, and why do I need 2-4 weeks of it?
Maintenance ready backlog represents the work orders that have progressed through your maintenance business process to the point that they have been approved and are planned for execution. These jobs have all of the parts, tools, and work procedures packaged and completely ready.  When we say you need two to four weeks that means that you should have enough work in this stage so that if your crafts had no break-ins or emergencies to do then you could keep them all fully employed for two to four weeks.
You need this amount for a few reasons:
First you want to be able to use these "ready to work" jobs to build your schedule each week. You need at least two weeks selection for operations and maintenance to choose from to be able to create a fully planned schedule that takes into account available equipment downtime and manpower. Your goal is to keep unplanned jobs and jobs without the parts on hand off of the schedule. By doing this you will lower maintenance cost and minimize schedule breaks. If you get below the two week mark you will start to see that you just do not have enough work orders to adequately utilize all of your crafts or the available scheduled downtime and many site are then tempted to pull in unplanned jobs and try to rush the parts and the planning.
Second, You don't need to exceed four weeks because you do not want to have excess inventory and tools tied up in the ready backlog.
To manage this level there needs to be constant communication between the Maintenance Manager, who controls the amount of craft hour available for work completion, and the Planner/Scheduler. If the Maintenance Manager were to approve extra hours of overtime for a few weeks then that will consume the ready backlog at an accelerated pace. The planner would then have to step up the production of job packages or face the possibility that they could run out of ready backlog and have to work on unplanned work.
If you can maintain the level in the band you will find that it allows for a much more effective and effective overall maintenance process. This equals lower maintenance cost for the same or higher levels of reliability.


  1. Good explanation, Shon. Thanks!

  2. Good morning Shon:
    This is a great explanation!
    Our rule of thumb is 4 to 6 weeks of ready to use or close to ready to use backlog. But we're planning for 74 millwright's and 10 machinists. So when we have an unannounced plant shutdown say for a week or so the group could deplete the backlog rather quickly.
    But the most important part of your explanation is how many maintenance managers don't fully understand your philosophy. It is spot on, and I can tell you that it really works the way you explained; at least from our experience.
    Terry Alexander