Fleet Shop Scheduling
By: Joel Levitt
Every shop should have a technique to schedule each crew. In addition, other work should be reviewed before work on a vehicle is started, such as Preventative Maintenance (PM) operations that will come due in the very near future.
Shop Scheduling Tips
The first items scheduled are the vehicles still in process. Use substantial effort to solve whatever problem is keeping them from being finished. Occasionally, you can put a unit back to work without all the work complete if the defect will not interfere with safe operation, quality or production level.
Control your vacations with annual sign-up sheets. In one facility, people signed up for vacation at the beginning of the year and then again a quarter at a time. The order was rotated so everyone had a first choice. The number and skill sets of the people on vacation at any one time were regulated.
Never start a job you can’t finish due to parts, tools or outside services. Identify, where possible, all parts and other resources needed. Identifying resources is called job planning.
Reserve parts by pulling them out of stock and putting them in a staging area. Some places use plastic totes. One shop had a wall of old bus lockers. Parts were pulled and put into totes and slid into a locker. The key was put into a plastic envelope with the work order. Start the job when everything is there.
Most of the schedule will come from PMs that are scheduled. They will constitute 10 to 15 percent of your work load and create an additional 45 to 55 percent from corrective items.
Is there a day-of-week effect? If so, then some of your demand is known by the day of the week. This is common where there is some activity over the weekend. On Monday morning, a bunch of vehicles are broken. Look outside. Does the weather influence the schedule for that day?
Overtime should be the result of a short-term inequality between the demand for services and the resources then available. It should be known about well ahead of time. If there is an emergency requiring overtime, then technicians can work on routine work to fill in the time, or finish the shift while waiting for the unit.
Limit yourself when assigning more then one person to any job unless absolutely necessary. Of course, safety sometimes dictates when two people must be used. Also, you should never have only one person in the shop. However, two or more people on a job slow the job down. Studies have shown that having two people on a job might make the likelihood of a safety incident higher than one person.
Supervisors should show up randomly if they are responsible for off-shift work. Rule: If possible, vehicles that are started are worked on until they are completed. Keep overlap between shifts to a minimum. The supervisors should be overlapping and finding out where each job is and passing that on to the crew member. You can observe this. If you overlap, do the technicians actively go over the jobs or is it an extra break?
Run in as few shifts as possible. Three shifts are tough to crew and to get productivity out of. Keep in mind the advantage of looking closely at doing maintenance when the units are NOT in demand (if production runs 16 hours, maybe major maintenance can be done in the last eight hours).
Consider your demand hours. Demand hours are the hours the vehicle is in use. This is important. If it is possible, the bulk of your maintenance activity should be scheduled when your vehicles are not in demand. Ideally, the day shift would concentrate on multi-day jobs and emergency work. The evening would focus on PM and corrective jobs.
Most police fleets are 24/7 but might have different numbers of officers on the street at different times of the day. In this case, the garage can be crewed so the light shifts have the most technicians.
In some shops where the demand is during daytime and they are constrained to daytime shop hours, they have some technicians come in very early to get some of the quicker jobs out of the way before the officers arrive.
Joel Levitt is a leading trainer of maintenance professionals. He has trained more than 15,000 maintenance leaders from 3,000 organizations in more than 20 countries in more than 500 sessions. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Since 1980, he has been the President of Springfield Resources, a management consulting firm that services clients of all sizes on a wide range of maintenance issues. He may be reached at email@example.com.