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The Maintenance Management Blog

November 07, 2022

The Right Way To Wrench Time

Image: several wrenches"Dream big, stay positive, work hard, and enjoy the journey." – Urijah Faber

As the saying goes, there's a time for work and a time for play. Over the weekend, you can enjoy a ballgame or a fishing excursion but when Monday morning rolls around, it's nose to the grindstone, right? But when at work, do you practice the right way to wrench time?

I feel the same when I'm writing my books. At some point, I have to put everything else aside and write. Unless I write, then nothing will be accomplished.

In any large to small businesses, maintenance jobs come up. At the time, as a supervisor, are you getting all you can out of workers? Does that 'wrench time' produce?

This week let's explore ten ways to up the quality of that wrench time. In addition, let's see how these points could help assist me in better writing time…or maybe for you to relate to home projects.

What is it? – It's a maintenance job, but what kind? Preventive maintenance? Inspection? Routine lubrication or switching out old parts? Is it a safety concern such as repairing lights or filling in cracks in the sidewalk? Is it a repair or malfunctioning processor?

This first point may seem obvious, but the category of the job affects the next five points.

In my writing, I have to pay attention to where I'm at in the story. Is this an action scene or a 'down' chapter where characters—and readers—get a break? This doesn't mean nothing is happening, it's to rebuild for another round.

Is this new material, an edit, or a rewrite? As with maintenance, what I'm writing determines how some of the following points are fulfilled.

How important is it? – Of course, safety repairs are pretty important. Preventive maintenance cannot be done if it's left too long unattended. The machine that spits products all over the floor needs immediate attention. It's up to the supervisor, based on advice and experience to determine prioritization. You don't want to dispatch someone on a job and leave another vital repair delayed.

I may have several works in progress. I decide on what to focus on any given day. Do I need to finish a read-through in order to start submitting to publishers? Does a scene need to be written for reading to the critique group?

In what order should it be done? – This point can be broken into two parts. The first is related to the previous discussion of prioritization. I'm talking about scheduling. Preventive maintenance cycles are a great example. A supervisor or scheduler can place these on a calendar. I know one company rep who has jobs scheduled for the following week and dispatches them early so workers understand the due date.

The second part of this is the actual job steps. Most jobs require a certain order. For instance, you're not going to pour in new oil until the oil plug is replaced. Simple example sure, but what happens when a PM or repair isn't done in the correct order? The job may be 'completed,' but something was left undone that could cause later problems. I'm reminded of a car repair where the mechanic didn't check that the gasket was in place. Later, I had oil all over the engine.

Checklists are great to minimize 'cut corners.' Workers, even those who know the job, can follow each step, reducing the risk of injury or future unplanned repairs.

In my writing, I create outlines for each story. When I begin, I know in what order the scenes will take place. Yes, there are times when I switch the order of scenes but doing so saves future problems. The story is better for my tinkering with that 'checklist.'

Image: woman examining a motorSafety protocols – Again, this is a good follow-up to the above point. There are certain procedures to follow with PMS and repairs. The most basic and common example is 'turn off the machine before…' I know, pretty obvious, but my grandfather had an accident trying to unclog a lawn mower. No details are necessary as I'm sure you can imagine the result. Nothing life-threatening, but it did require a trip to the hospital.

Safety protocols can be part of those checklists, perhaps a list of safety tips to keep handy and refer to before the job begins.

In my writing, there are certain 'rules' to follow. For the most part, I do. Breaking rules only works…if the story works. Rules are needed to keep the story coherent. If a reader is 'thrown out' because of something obscure or that doesn't make sense, then the writer has failed to keep that reader 'safe.' The enjoyment factor drops. As in maintenance, when an efficient way is found to complete the job without risking safety, breaking the 'rules' is okay if doing so fits the story.

Who does it? – Is this a single-person job or complex enough to require a team? In either case, who's the best skilled? Will it be prudent to pair the new worker with a veteran?

Maintenance supervisors should create teams, crews, and certain crafts, or would an entire shift be sufficient?

For my books, there is only me. No one else is going to write the story. Barring collaboration, I'm responsible.

However, that doesn't mean I can't ask for help. If I have a problem with a scene, a writer friend usually has suggestions.

B.O.M. – What bill of materials is needed for the job? For PMs, there could be reserved and ready-to-go parts and tools. It is beneficial and more efficient if the maintenance technician knows what to take from the stockroom beforehand and has these items readily available.

Research is key to my writing. If I'm discussing an unfamiliar subject, I'll need research before I write. Without quality research, I'll come off as an amateur.

Similarly, it's important to answer questions regarding the characters' actions before completing the scene. Why does my heroine do something? What's the motivation? If I don't have an answer, the reader gets confused as to the purpose of a scene. It would be more work for me if I have to go back later and 'fix' the scene after I come up with answers to questions.

Workers waste time figuring out what's needed and then retrieving the correct parts. Know before you begin.

Stockroom layout – The last point segues nicely into two points about inventory management. The first is organization. Wrench time is delayed by the amount of time searching if workers don't where needed items are located. A supervisor should layout the stockroom accordingly, so everything is in order.

I prefer certain conditions when I write. Organization of my immediate area. This could be a quiet park setting at a picnic table or 'seclusion' and a drink at a coffee shop. Soft jazz in the background and a drink nearby in most other settings. No distractions are what I aim for.

Issue/return – A great process for obtaining the correct parts is through an Issue/Return system. This reduces the risk of parts missing and disappearing. With this system, you know who has what for what purpose.

Reading to critique groups is in the next point, however, I look at this point in a give-and-take nature for these groups. If I issue a quality critique, then I'm hoping for a quality return.

However, I also look at those offering critiques that they are keeping up on their writing. Basically, if you aren't writing and boning up on the craft, I tend to receive your critique with a guarded reaction. Practice, practice. By the same token, if I offer you critiques time and again and receive nothing in return, I might turn reticent about future suggestions.

Work order completion reports – What happens after the work is done? A supervisor should analyze not only the quality of work but all facets of the job. Was the job completed on time? If not, were there extenuating circumstances? The truck broke down on the way to the job site. Parts weren't available. Did the job take longer than anticipated either because it just did or were there additional, unforeseen problems? All of these are factors for future jobs.

The quality of my writing is reflected in the critiques I receive. How well the scene and the story as a whole are shaping up. Are people following the storyline well or are there parts—hopefully, easy fixes—that are troublesome? The critiques show me how to improve on the rewrites and for future stories.

Attainment – Are you getting the most out of your workers? Is that person giving sixty minutes for every hour worked? A job takes two hours and he's done in ninety minutes. What's he doing for the other thirty? Do you notice a slowdown at the end of the day or week? This is a great report to measure wrench time.

For my writing, it's all about time management. I can see where I need improvements, where I need to be more committed, and that I should carve out time to do the job.

What system could a supervisor use to assist in all of the above points? Spreadsheets are fine if limited. The answer is a quality computerized maintenance management system (CMMS). Review the ten points and see how a CMMS would handle them.

Work type and prioritization and scheduling. Adding safety procedures and checklists to work orders. Creating and dispatching work to crews or other teams. Adding a BOM to a work order.

Regarding inventory management, there's stockroom organization for the location of every item and a proper issue/return policy.

Generate reports for on-time compliance and attainment for in-depth reviews.

Better productivity and quality results are what you're seeking with worker wrench time. Many factors are involved, and they need constant attention. The maintenance work never ends, but a CMMS will help make those tasks easier to manage.

To get details on a quality, superb, and powerful CMMS, visit Mapcon or call 800-922-4336. Learn how MAPCON can help your wrench time and time management.


Stephen Brayton

About the Author – Stephen Brayton


Stephen L. Brayton is a Marketing Associate at Mapcon Technologies, Inc. He graduated from Iowa Wesleyan College with a degree in Communications. His background includes radio, hospitality, martial arts, and print media. He has authored several published books (fiction), and his short stories have been included in numerous anthologies. With his joining the Mapcon team, he ventures in a new and exciting direction with his writing and marketing. He’ll bring a unique perspective in presenting the Mapcon system to prospective companies, as well as our current valued clients.


Filed under: maintenance, work order, CMMS — Stephen Brayton on November 07, 2022