Maintaining work order priorities can really be a challenge that organizations face when reactionary urgent matters squeak louder than the perscribed order. Reacting to pseudo-urgent matters diverts resources from proven efficient maintenance practices which are all about lessening or mitigating risk or the consequences of failure.
To succeed, it is important that maintenance and operations have a proactive partnership where they work together to understand and communicate the risk probability via the work order system. The reality is that very little attention is paid to making equipment easy to maintain in many organizations, and thus becomes an emergency when failure enters the equation. Yet, it’s quite easy to justify simple, often inexpensive modifications to new or existing equipment to make it maintenance friendly and for staff to interact according to the established priorities.
The challenge in determining the potential risk is to estimate the probability of the breakdown occurring within a period of time. I hope you would agree that MTBF (mean time before failure) is a measure of reliability. Isn’t that one of the primary visions that you have for your organization, driving improved reliability? As organizations enhance their maintenance practices, many utilize an equipment reliability improvement effort that involves failure modes and effects analysis (FMEA) and other techniques. MTTR (mean time to repair) should also be included as a separate integrated vision for your organization. What is it? It’s a measure of maintainability, or the average (mean) amount of time required to complete the repair or restoration of a failed component.
Once this has been clearly established for your PM'd equipment, then a matrix can be built for unscheduled work orders with the estimated time to the potential breakdown or functional failure on one side (typically in days) and the consequences of failure on the other side (90 degrees out). This matrix provides a tool for staff to assign the appropriate priority to special work orders and service requests with a healthy expectation for work completion times.