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Creating and managing the maintenance schedule is an essential task for any manager in charge of a team of technicians.
Such a tool is essential for companies whose core business is maintenance, as well as for industries that have their own fleet of machines and equipment.
To help you build an effective and realistic maintenance schedule, our guide takes you through each step:
💡 A maintenance schedule is a document that clearly defines the distribution of maintenance tasks for a given period and team.
It usually takes the form of a calendar or spreadsheet.
In practical terms, a maintenance schedule means that each job can be assigned to a technician within a satisfactory timeframe, taking into account the skills, authorisations, and licences of each field worker.
Depending on your needs and the way your company is organised, the planning can be daily, weekly or monthly.
The right schedule includes all the types of maintenance to be carried out, prioritising them according to their degree of emergency:
A useful and effective maintenance schedule includes a list of precise information about the operations to be carried out:
💡 Of course, this list can be adapted to suit your needs. Depending on your business sector and the way your team operates, other data may be relevant:
According to standard NF EN 13306, the maintenance plan can be defined as “structured and documented set of tasks that includes the activities, work instructions, resources, and time required to carry out the maintenance”.
The maintenance plan therefore includes a whole series of documents and procedures designed to keep or restore equipment in good working condition. It takes into account:
To create an efficient schedule, you will need some of the information listed in the maintenance plan. But the two documents have neither the same function nor the same purpose.
💡 In simple terms, the maintenance schedule sets out and organises in both space and time all the operations recommended in the maintenance plan, based on the human and material resources available.
Let’s take the example of a heating company that provides annual maintenance contracts tailored to each type of boiler. Initially, you’ll need to plan all these recurring visits, which are essential to meet your contractual commitments.
By doing this, you can optimise the schedules of your teams for each period, without being delayed by their holidays or those of customers.
Depending on your activity, you’ll need to leave enough leeway for emergencies and unforeseen circumstances.
The heating company in this example is also in demand during the summer months for repairs to air conditioning units.
It will also need to keep slots free to respond quickly to requests from new customers.
By doing this, you can respond to unscheduled requests with more confidence and assign them to one or other of your technicians according to various parameters:
Finally, you need to analyse your key performance indicators (KPIs) at regular frequencies to plan future operations smarter.
Let’s say that the boiler takes much longer to repair because of an atypical configuration.
Based on your actual statistics, you can adjust the forecast duration of future operations, and thus create more realistic schedules.
Many companies start planning service routes using software such as Excel or its online alternative, Google Sheets.
💡 These solutions, which are very simple to set up, can indeed be useful for managing a limited number of technicians and operations.
However, they have some limitations that are frustrating to use, even for a small team.
For example, you will have to send your technicians the documents and attachments they need to carry out their tasks separately.
Your employees will also have to use a navigation app, and you won’t be able to geolocate them or track their work in real time.
There are also companies that manage small technical teams using a shared calendar solution. Among the most popular are Google Calendar and Microsoft Outlook.
Synchronised in real time, these online calendars by definition work with the other tools in the IT package chosen by your company (Google Workspace, Microsoft 365, etc.). They make it easy to associate notes or plans with each appointment.
However, they are not designed to be used as a management tool. This means that you’ll need to be constantly thinking about solutions for linking up with your spare parts stock, writing quotations or invoices, extracting performance indicators, etc.
Most Computerised Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS) offer some very interesting features to help you organise the work of your teams more effectively, such as:
💡 Some CMMS solutions even include mapping and communication tools, making them almost like field service operation management software.
Before adopting such software, you should take an in-depth look at the services it can provide. What are the different ways of scheduling and making appointments? Does the tool include a real-time navigation or geolocation solution for technicians?
You also need to take into account the time it takes to get to know the software, as some of it is not very intuitive, and check the real cost of using it, all options included.
As their name suggests, these tools are extremely useful for optimising the work of mobile service teams.
They can be used on their own or in addition to spreadsheets, CMMS software, etc.
Not only does this optimisation software save you a significant amount of time on the planning itself, it also systematically determines the best route for each technician based on various parameters:
💡 The icing on the cake: some field service management tools, such as AntsRoute, can also track the progress of technicians and automate the communication with customers in real time.
View of a weekly maintenance schedule on AntsRoute
These 5 arguments should convince you of the benefits and added value of this tool.
In a highly constrained environment, this type of planning enables you to share out the workload more effectively, and therefore optimise the resources available.
Do you need to send one of your technicians to a very remote site to resolve an urgent breakdown? Thanks to a well-organised work schedule, you can assign other preventive maintenance operations to this technician in just a few clicks, and thus cancel the inspection visit scheduled shortly afterwards.
In this type of business, managing major or even critical breakdowns is part of everyday life. But managers need to have the right tools in hand to respond quickly to these requests without overlooking service quality.
Thanks to functions such as geolocation and real-time validation of operations, the software locates the best technician in the area and notifies him or her immediately.
The rigorous planning of preventive maintenance extends the life of your equipment and avoids the penalties associated with non-compliance with your commitments.
By optimising preventive and corrective maintenance tasks, you can also increase the number of tasks carried out per day and per technician, generating significant savings on vehicle and fuel costs.
The regular maintenance of equipment limits the number of incidents and shutdowns, which are always very stressful for employees.
After all, how can you stay motivated when your machines are regularly down and the simplest spare part change turns into an obstacle course?
If your company works on behalf of external customers, an efficient and well-maintained maintenance schedule is also very useful for retaining your technicians. In fact, very few of them enjoy writing service reports or making repeated calls to cancel or reschedule appointments.
Freed from this time-consuming and unrewarding part of the job, they can concentrate on their core business and do what they really enjoy. In a tight employment market, this is an important argument for recruiting and retaining your employees.
What tools do you have today to identify unbalanced work schedules, too-frequent cancellations, or decreasing on-time service rate?
Yet all these factors can quickly disorganise a team and worsen results.
Thanks to the indicators gathered by most service management software, you can easily detect this type of problem and take the necessary measures to restore and maintain top performance.
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