Work Study for Maintenance

In order to control and improve maintenance performance, one should have adequate work standards. The variety, variability and uniqueness of the jobs of maintenance may not lend easily to the measurement of work by analytical alone. Some degree of estimation in the work measurement techniques is unavoidable. But, even the rough or broad level work standards have produced significant increase in productivity in many organizations.

Universal Maintenance Standards (UMS):

One of the noteworthy techniques of work measurement in maintenance management is that of Comparative Estimating based on UMS. Here, Standard Work groupings are first established based in a range of time. If most of the maintenance jobs within a total time range of say 0 to 8 hours (which is what usually happens), then this total range is split into 8 or 10 ranges of time. For instances,

0 – 0.25 hours 0.25 –0.50 hours
0.5 – 1.0 hours 1.0 –1.5 hours
1.5 – 2.5 hours 2.5 – 3.5 hours
3.5 – 4.5 hours 4.5 – 5.5 hours
5.5 – 6.5 hours and 6.5 – 8.0 hours

A given job is then fitted into one of these Work Groupings with the help of benchmark jobs. These are the reference points for comparison and time estimation. The timings of bench marks may be derived by any alternative technique (such as UMS or PMTS). If derived from UMS, they will have a range of time and an average of the range. The benchmark jobs are different for different trades/crafts (repair of pumps, repair of large electric equipment, repair of process instruments etc).

A given job at hand is compared with the benchmarks to find which Work Grouping it will fit into. To the average time for this Work Grouping is then added the (1) Job Preparation Times, (2) Travel Time, and (3) Personal Needs allowances. The Job Preparation Time is the time for receipt of tools, equipments, preparation on the job site, cleaning the tools, cleaning the job site etc. The Travel Time is time spent in transit to carry out a job.

The job times are thus estimated in terms of a range with an average time mentioned. Even so, the total for all the jobs to be done in a fairly long time period (such as one week) will have an error of at the most ±5%. So that, group incentives can also be introduced in the maintenance function.

Other estimating techniques such as Category Estimating which is similar to comparative estimating and Data Block Synthesis on lines similar to PMTS are available for work measurement in maintenance.

As mentioned earlier, in a good organization, a proper information system, and good rapport between workers and the management are important pre-requisites for any technique such as work measurement to yield better productivity. Work measurement alone cannot be depended upon to produce results however much it may be linked with an incentive scheme.

Manpower planning for skilled Technicians:

In addition to all the problems and their possible solutions mentioned above on the subject of maintenance management, one important fact particularly true of India needs mention. It is the inadequate availability of skilled technicians/ tradesmen. A country, which produces degree engineers in a large number every year – only to join the ranks of the unemployed does not produce enough skilled technicians. In addition to this problem, there is the exodus of these skilled workers to foreign countries especially the Middle East.

There are not enough training institutions. The Industrial Training Institutes which exist seem to be lacking in the quality of their training and are therefore facing a high drop-out rate. The author feels that somewhere the priorities have got mixed up and unless a sound national manpower planning and its implementation is done, matters deteriorate further.