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What Is a Maintenance Work Order? Understanding Its Importance [The Complete Guide]

What Is a Maintenance Work Order? Understanding Its Importance [The Complete Guide]

A maintenance work order serves an essential purpose for organisations with machinery and equipment under their control. It is not only a means of communication to maintenance teams that a maintenance task is required. It is also a way of documenting each step of the maintenance process to ensure transparency and a lack of ambiguity.

As such, maintenance operations significantly benefit from issuing maintenance work orders. They are submitted to the right technicians timeously to prevent costly downtime, unnecessary expenses and the loss of valuable resources such as time, labour and money.

In this article, we carry out a detailed exploration of work order maintenance. This includes what goes into creating, managing and optimising these work orders to streamline operations for maximum asset management efficiency. Let’s begin

What Is a Maintenance Work Order? Understanding Its Importance [The Complete Guide]

What Is a Maintenance Work Order?

A maintenance work order is the transition of a work request made by any member within or outside the organisation into a work order for maintenance or repair activities. These formal requests play an essential role in managing organisational resources, tracking progress and maintaining a history of completed tasks.

Maintenance work orders have evolved from traditional pen and paper systems to digital systems in the form of a computerised maintenance management system (CMMS), which significantly streamlines work order management processes.

They eliminate the need to follow paper trails of work order requests as CMMS software retains all the information related to the maintenance or repair needs of tasks in a central, cloud-based location.

Therefore, regardless of whether an organisation has multiple assets across different locations and several teams working on repair and maintenance tasks, maintenance managers can issue notifications in real time to technicians. The ultimate upsides of this include improved organisational and operational efficiencies, better facility management and a reduced cost of unplanned downtime.

Maintenance Work Order Process Flow

Irrespective of which maintenance work order type you are using at your organisation, or even if it’s a combination of several types, most follow a specific maintenance work order process. Below, we outline the work order management process in seven simple steps.

1. Identify a task

The maintenance work order procedure starts when someone identifies a task to be performed. This can come from within the organisation or from someone external but connected to it.

For example, if you are managing a commercial office building with multiple HVAC units and one of them is faulty, a tenant of that building can raise the issue by identifying the problem that needs to be resolved. They can approach a maintenance manager or another relevant person in the organisation who will then create a maintenance request.

2. Create a maintenance request

Creating a maintenance request is the next step in the process. It is important to note that a maintenance request is not the same as a maintenance work order. The request is simply the initiation of the process and it is sent to a maintenance manager to determine if the issue requires maintenance based on several factors. These include the issue's seriousness, the resources available to address it, the costs and spare parts that may be involved in resolving it, the personnel that may need to be reassigned from a current maintenance task to this one, etc.

3. Prioritise work orders

If several maintenance requests come in at the same time, you’ll want to know how to prioritise maintenance work orders. To determine your maintenance work order priorities, you should consider how critical the faults in question are when compared against each other.

You should also look at how much they’re costing your organisation by doing an analysis of their organisation-wide ramifications. It’s also essential to consider the time frame it will take for a fault to be repaired, the costs involved, labour, materials and spare parts, tool availability and other criteria.

Often, the most critical work order will be the one that could potentially put a stop to the organisation’s operations until the fault is repaired. At this stage, maintenance managers create a work order and begin to manage work that's carried out as part of routine maintenance, predictive, corrective or other maintenance types.

4. Schedule a maintenance work order

Once a maintenance request turns into a work order and that work order has been prioritised, it is time to schedule it. Scheduling means determining the time and day on which the work should be carried out. It is also a good idea to have an estimated time frame for how long it could take for the work to be completed.

5. Assign a work order

When a maintenance work order is scheduled, the next step is to assign it to a relevant team member. Since not all team members have the same skills, you will want to ensure that you assign the work order to a specialist who has the skill set to carry out the work order efficiently and effectively.

Sometimes, this may require pulling them away from other duties. This involves a careful balancing act of dealing with a critical issue versus ongoing and general issues that your repair technician would normally be doing. In your work order assignment, you should provide the technician with details about what is expected of them for the task in question.

This may include adding or attaching documentation such as owner’s manuals, instructions and guidelines, a step-by-step checklist, spare parts to be used during the process, etc.

6. Maintenance work order completion

After the work order has been assigned to a relevant team member, it will be completed. This often entails a requirement for the technician in question to complete certain documentation to ensure that the task details are fully documented. This can enable the next person working on the job to better understand what was done before so that they can pick up where the first technician left off.

7. Review the work order

The final step in terms of how to make a work order for maintenance involves reviewing the details of the work order. This is carried out by the manager who scheduled and assigned the work order in the first place.

They will aim to ensure that the work was carried out, that the checklist was completed and that the necessary documentation by the technician is accurate and complete. They will also be able to use this information to add to a database of work orders to measure important maintenance metrics for later use and decision-making purposes.

Key Components of Maintenance Work Orders

Whether you are following a proactive/preventive or reactive/corrective equipment maintenance plan, most work orders for repair and maintenance activities have similar criteria and follow a standardised format. This format makes it easy for all parties involved to follow the right procedures in a streamlined way.

As such, the key components of maintenance work orders are the following:

  • Requesting party: The requesting party is the person who issues the work request before it turns into a work order. They may be someone who is either outside or inside the organisation who is affected by or has identified the fault in question. Their details should be clearly stipulated in the work request document, including information such as their names, contact details (telephone number and email address), date and time of the request, the department they work for (if internal to the organisation), etc. By timeously reporting problems and issues, they can be resolved faster and more efficiently.
  • Problem description: After a maintenance manager has received and reviewed the work request from the requesting party, they will describe the problem to be addressed. This can be something like a light bulb not working properly, an HVAC system malfunctioning, or assets and machines that have completely broken down.
  • Asset details: The asset that is the subject of the work order will be identified. This can be done through an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) code or another asset code that has previously been assigned to it. In addition, the fault related to the asset will be identified so that the assigned technician knows what to work on when they receive the work order.
  • Assigned personnel: The assigned personnel are the people who are responsible for fixing the faulty machine. They are often a part of a team of technicians with diverse skill sets, each of whom specialises in a certain area. Some may have more expertise than others on various machines and that is why assigning the right team member to the job is so vital.
  • Due date: A maintenance work order will, once issued, also have a completion work date. This is an estimated amount of time that is expected for the technician to resolve the problem with the faulty equipment. 
  • Required parts: The necessary parts and tools needed to complete the repair and maintenance task in question will also be specified by the maintenance manager in the work order. This specification should be part of the broader spare parts inventory management process that is under the maintenance manager’s control.
  • Completion details: The completion details of the work order will contain a completed checklist that details every aspect of the work that the technician carried out. No steps or items should be missing from this checklist. Information about completion should include the due date vs completion date to determine how much time it took the technician and whether the work was done within the allocated time frame.

Attachments: The technician completing the work order can also submit attachments to a digital platform, such as a CMMS system, which may include documents, checklists, photos of the fault and work done, and other documentation that is relevant to the repair and maintenance task.

Managing Maintenance Work Orders

Creating a single maintenance work order can seem simple and straightforward. However, there are important challenges that come with work order management, especially if they go into the tens or dozens.

This is especially true for paper-based or spreadsheet-style systems where information is not always complete or available. It is also true that urgent work orders may not always be assigned on time due to incomplete data or delays in creating and managing the work order. With manual systems, the challenges can mean costly downtime and expensive repairs.

On the other hand, computerised systems can truly streamline the process, offering smooth operations and work order management that gives organisations an edge over the competition. This is where the role of a CMMS is absolutely integral to any maintenance operation and all work order assignments.

With a digital and cloud-based solution at your disposal, you can easily receive work requests, approve them, convert them into work orders, accurately assign and monitor progress on each one and schedule its completion with speed, reliability and transparency.

Moreover, CMMS systems are able to give you an instant view into your operations with manageable dashboards and reporting and analytics functionalities. Ultimately, they can help boost organisational performance because they offer data-driven insights that can introduce greater efficiencies to your processes. This can be achieved by monitoring key asset performance metrics related to maintenance, repairs and everything in between.

Benefits of Using Fabrico CMMS in Work Order Management

Choosing the right CMMS for your business’s operational and maintenance needs is crucial. If you are wondering where to start in selecting among the different work order management systems, we advise that you focus on your organisational needs and budget.

Luckily, there is work order software or CMMS solution that’s the perfect fit for your business and that is Fabrico’s CMMS system. This is a powerful tool that can be set up super fast and it can help maintenance managers facilitate smoother work order management. Ultimately, the benefits for your organisation will be incredibly tangible.

You’ll experience more streamlined operations, minimise downtime and enhance overall asset management efficiency. What is more, with Fabrico’s mobile CMMS, maintenance technicians and maintenance managers can easily create different types of work orders on the go using QR codes that are scanned and ready for work. Receiving such a digital work order on a smart mobile device such as a smartphone, smartwatch or tablet means faster reaction times and higher output.

Isn’t it time to explore its task management functionalities in addition to all its other powerful features

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