How to use data to answer five big questions about your maintenance team’s performance

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Maintenance involves a lot of moving parts, which means more chances for something to go wrong. And when problems arise, you want to tackle them with as much information as possible. In other words, you want problem-solving to be predictable. Data is a key ingredient in achieving this goal.

We look at 5 ways to use data to solve common maintenance issues and lead your team to success.

Future of analytics and data

This article walks you through what data to use and how to use it. While you can follow along if your data is in spreadsheets or file cabinets, we’re using the Fiix analytics tool to illustrate the process. Fiix analytics is visual and interactive so you can get a clear view of how to drill into your data and find the answers to your biggest questions.

1. How do I make sure the right maintenance is being done at the right time?

The average facility manages 45 work orders a week. With so much to do (and so little time to do it in), you know how important it is to focus your team’s efforts in the right place. So, this question really has three sub-questions—am I doing too much maintenance, not enough maintenance, or the right amount of maintenance on an asset?

The first step to answering these questions is to identify the assets with lots of work orders associated with them. Then, filter these work orders by asset and maintenance type.

First, look for assets with few or no corrective work orders associated with them. This means you’re probably doing PMs too frequently on these assets and can cut the frequency of scheduled maintenance.

Active work orders by type

Assets with not enough preventive maintenance will have lots of emergency work associated with them. Also, look for assets with lower maintenance costs compared to assets of a similar type as that is often a sign that they aren’t getting enough maintenance. Increase the frequency of PMs on these assets.

The right amount of maintenance shows frequent and corrective work orders associated with assets.

2. How is maintenance affecting the performance of equipment?

To get a picture of how maintenance is impacting equipment performance, start by collecting information on assets with associated downtime. Next, filter those assets into two categories – planned and unplanned downtime. Rank those assets by unplanned downtime. Assets with more unplanned downtime are the ones you want to tackle first as they have the biggest negative impact on your company and the most opportunity for improvement. You can further filter those assets by maintenance costs associated with them. The assets with the most downtime and highest costs are where to begin adjusting your strategy.

The next step is to dive into the notes on the emergency work orders attached to those assets. Find out what the most common problems and causes were, and make changes to address them. For example, has a bearing continually failed because of improper lubrication? A simple change might be to increase the frequency of lubrication and specify the proper amount of lubrication needed in each instance.

Revisit this report to see if your adjustments have made a difference. If unplanned downtime and maintenance costs drop across 30, 60, and 90 days, you now have data to support your decisions and show how they impact production.

Filter visualization

3. How can my facility organize our storeroom so parts are easily accessible?

An unorganized storeroom can pose more problems than just being messy. It makes it hard for technicians to access parts when they need them most leading to delays and potential breakdowns.

To tackle this problem head-on, collect data on assets with the most emergency work orders attached to them.

Take note of what parts are associated most with that emergency work and the equipment they’re needed for. Once that has been determined, you can kit those parts together. Parts kitting makes getting parts easier and more accessible when emergency work is triggered.

For this to work in the first place, this data needs to be tracked and updated frequently. Each time a tech reaches for a spare part, that data should be updated. It gives you an accurate sign of which parts are used frequently and how often they are attached to reactive work.

4. Where should I be allocating my maintenance budget?

Figuring out where to spend your maintenance budget can be a headache and can be even harder to justify that spending.

Let’s say that increasing your team’s headcount would help clear some of the facility’s backlogged maintenance. That decision comes down to two factors— do I hire more in-house employees or more contractors? That big budget consideration is hard to justify without proof.

To begin making your case, collect all the information you can about work done in the last quarter to a year. Was it done mostly by internal employees or contractors?

By looking at each category, add up the total spend associated with each. Take into account costs like employee salary and benefits, contractor’s hourly pay, and training. Each has its cost benefits and disadvantages.

Based on those costs, you can make a pretty clear case to your department, based on dollar value, if it’s more cost-effective to hire internal employees or more contractors. Those stats can help justify why spending on additional hires is necessary.

5. What obstacles are our technicians facing?

It’s easy for technicians to get caught up in their workload when things get busy. Completion notes aren’t updated or information is missed on work orders. It may not seem like a big deal the first time, but once it becomes a habit, it can become an obstacle for other technicians.

As a maintenance manager, you can help enforce the importance of having complete information. One of the ways you can tackle this obstacle is by conducting bi-weekly checks to find work orders with missing information or incomplete notes.

Look for trends in those work orders. Was it done by the same technician? Is it the same type of information being missed? Consider looking at the type of maintenance associated with these work orders. Consider having a department-wide info session on the importance and benefit of filling out work order completion notes.

If it’s the same technician, take a look at their logged hours. If they are doing more hours than the average, it might mean they are simply logging too many hours and might be overworked.

Trend visualization

Making it a habit to check for these inconsistencies on a regular basis might make a big difference in the performance of your employees and your facility.

Seeing the bigger pictures leads to bigger gains

Your facility has lots of moving parts and keeping track of them all manually can be time-consuming. Using an analytics reporting tool provides a visual representation of your facility’s moving parts. In addition, it gives the power back to the maintenance department, allowing them to tackle problems as they arise and lead their team to solution-oriented work culture.

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