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How to overcome 7 common frustrations faced by Maintenance Managers

6 October 2020 by Add Energy

Being a Maintenance Manager can be a very rewarding, yet challenging role. A Maintenance Manager is typically accountable for ensuring maintenance is executed correctly, on time, and within budget to assure the safety and integrity of the facility, and that uptime and reliability targets are achieved. 

We frequently work with Maintenance Managers to provide solutions to frustrations and pain points that are having a negative effect on safety integrity, costs, production, effectiveness, and reliability. 

In this blog, we share common trends and issues Maintenance Managers face, based on the experiences gained from our own team of experts, and provide helpful tips and recommendations to help overcome them...

Misaligned and inaccurate job plans


It is common for the maintenance procedures to be misaligned with the equipment listed, we often find that there are incorrect crafts/disciplines assigned to the job plans, incorrect durations, or the job plan format does not match the client’s standards.

This can cause issues when it comes to planning and scheduling because: 

  • It is difficult to determine which discipline is required to complete the work 
  • The maintenance manager is unable to accurately forecast the number of maintenance technicians or specialists required to deliver the maintenance 
  • It is impossible to budget and plan accurately due to durations being incorrect or unavailable 
  • The maintenance team is unable to forecast materials required for the maintenance task 

All of which can cause maintenance to be delayed or deferred, the maintenance costs to be increased and possible non-compliance with regulatory requirements. 


If you’re facing this challenge, we recommend conducting a job plan validation project, whereby the maintenance manager works with the maintenance team to:

  • Define the format of the standards and minimum required information, such as Craft, duration, number of workers required, Materials (yes or no), list of materials need, task description
  • Group job plans by equipment type (instrumentation, rotating equipment, etc.)
  • Obtain buy-in and resource commitment from the engineering manager and the lead technicians
  • Review each job plan and check against the standards defined above
  • Submit the results to engineering for approval
  • Update approved job plans in the CMMS

Continual deferment of PMs causing an unmanageable forelog of work 


PM deferment is a situation that most facilities encounter, this is usually caused by corrective maintenance work taking priority, inaccurate planned maintenance hours, and not having enough resources to liquidate the work. When work is continuously deferred it creates a bow wave (backlog) of work to manage at a later stage, which can compromise safety, increase costs, create issues with warranty and can trigger a vicious cycle of this behavior.   

Although PM deferment can at times be unavoidable, to overcome the challenges associated with deferment, companies should consider:

  • Conducting an audit to determine the extent of the issue, and develop a plan to rationalize the backlog through various initiatives
  • Developing a work management process to ensure all work is identified, prioritized, planned, scheduled, executed, closed out, and reviewed correctly
  • Having only designated schedulers and supervisors setting deferral dates because they have a clearer understanding of the annual maintenance burden and capacity to liquidate work 
  • Group maintenance tasks together that require common tertiary and secondary support requirements, such as work on a pump and its motor 
  • Campaign maintenance whereby specialist 3rd parties can be handed a full scope of work to complete with minimum core crew involvement


If backlog is a reoccurring problem, we would also recommend considering these points to help determine the best strategy to rationalize backlog:

  • What is the cost of an upgrade that has less need for maintenance?
  • What is the time investment in repairs?
  • Can the maintenance frequencies be adjusted and justified through failure history?
  • What extra costs are accrued due to correctives of poorly maintained assets?
  • What extra costs are accrued due to 3rd party costs?

Overstocking of spare parts 


Many companies hold a huge amount of spare parts linked to their planned maintenance regime which have often been purchased years in advance and multiple times over.

Doing this can create significant issues including:

  • Tying up cash unnecessarily before it is required
  • Challenges when setting minimum and maximum stocking levels
  • Taking up premium space on the shelf that could be used for more critical spare parts 
  • Difficulties in identifying critical spares due to excess clutter 
  • Poor preservation maintenance due to the huge number of spare parts, which could then lead to infant mortality
  • Expired shelf life, which certain spares have, and could cause premature equipment failure once installed


To avoid these issues, companies should consider utilizing the “just in time” approach to ensure spares arrive just prior to the work being executed. But in order for this to work properly, you must have visibility on lead times, criticality, and your planning and scheduling process must be well established and optimized for spares to be ordered at the work order call horizon.  

There are a number of additional benefits that can be unlocked by doing this:

  • Spare parts are ordered against the correct maintenance work order, therefore the true cost of maintaining the equipment can be trended and recorded 
  • You gain more life from the parts by reducing shelf time
  • It’s important to identify the materials that are needed to keep the plant running vs. the nice to haves which doesn’t typically result in catastrophic failures
  • You don't spend this year’s budget buying spares for work orders that “might” occur in 2 years’ time -  for example

Similar equipment with similar duties being maintained with different strategies


In some cases, companies view each piece of equipment as a standalone item, and tend to apply unique maintenance strategies to these, and therefore create multiple iterations of strategies that end up incurring additional expenditure, time, and resources to manage. 


To manage this and provide efficiencies in maintenance strategy application and management, companies should consider:

  • Benchmarking maintenance strategy application across assets within their organization to identify commonalities that can be applied without reinventing the wheel
  • Reviewing and categorizing equipment into equipment type, duty/process, criticality, etc. to help eliminate duplication in maintenance and save costs. Categorization will also help facilitate maintenance analysis and reporting, which is crucial for optimization initiatives. ISO 14224 is a good starting point. 

Difficulties in shifting from a reactive to proactive maintenance strategy approach 


It is a known fact that proactive preventative maintenance is significantly more cost-effective and efficient than reactive breakdown maintenance. In recognizing the advantages of this, some of our clients have invested in the complete overhaul of their CMMS system, whereby the maintenance strategy and data is aligned with a proactive maintenance management approach. 

However, just changing your strategy and approach to maintenance will not enable the projected benefits of a proactive maintenance plan to be fully realized.


The maintenance team, their competencies, behaviors, and positions must be evaluated to ensure that the maintenance team is equipped to deliver and implement the maintenance in line with the expectations set forth by the strategy.  

Be open to and consider a possible restructure, investment in training, development, and recruitment in order to achieve your desired results. A change to the strategy alone is not the complete answer.

Poor data accuracy, leading to higher expenditure


Not being able to trust data within the CMMS is a common problem that many maintenance teams face. This is particularly prevalent when it comes to inventory data. We commonly find that the lack of accuracy and duplications of the same equipment, named differently, within this data set causes unnecessary ordering of spare parts that are already in stock, resulting in wasted expenditure and stock perishing over time. On the flip side, we have also seen excessive downtime caused by not having access to critical spare parts, which were thought to be in inventory. 


To overcome this, companies should invest in carrying out an inventory and warehousing assessment to firstly plug the knowledge gap and obtain an accurate picture of what is being held. This assessment will also uncover and measure how the maintenance, warehouse and supply chain management teams are integrating together, to identify opportunities for improvement in the process.

Having this information at your fingertips will help expose the gaps in the process and inventory when cross compared with a spares criticality and requirements review. There is no quick win on this, unfortunately, but it will provide you with the foundations that you need to maintain an accurate inventory. 

We would recommend that whilst this is being done, companies should consider reviewing the way in which your material mastering data is structured. This will expose where there are inconsistent descriptions, which cause duplications and over expenditure, and depending on the results of this, this may require a full data cleansing exercise.  

Asset register is missing drawing references


A drawing reference number is one of the most basic pieces of information required for any maintenance system. When the asset register is missing drawing references such as a P&ID drawing number or a General Arrangement (GA) drawing reference, it can create a number of problems, these can range from: 

  • Causing delays to inspection or maintenance activities due to the lack of knowledge required to understand and plan for isolation requirements, to
  • Not being able to rebuild equipment properly once it has been stripped down


To overcome this challenge, it is critical to conduct a mapping exercise of functional locations to the correct drawings. Although this can be a labor-intensive project, it is key to avoiding all of the issues associated with missing references, to ultimately save you time and money.

To do this, we would recommend following these key steps:

  1. Download an asset register extract from the CMMS
  2. Conduct a workshop to determine the equipment types that are considered an “Asset” and what functional locations need to be excluded
  3. Using the results of the workshop, all available engineering drawings will be reviewed and the “Assets” will be highlighted
  4. Retrieve the highlighted “Assets” on the drawings and list them on a working spreadsheet
  5. Once all engineering drawings are properly highlighted and all the tags extracted, a data comparison process should be performed against the CMMS extract. This process will yield 3 groups:
    • Group 1: 1 to 1 match between the “Asset” on the equipment list and the “Asset” on the engineering drawing. Capturing the drawing number for that asset on the list
    • Group 2: The “Asset” is on the equipment list but NOT on the engineering drawing and should be verified through a Physical Asset Verification using ePAVTM
    • Group 3: The “Asset” is NOT on the equipment list but it’s on the engineering drawing and should be verified through a Physical Asset Verification using ePAVTM

The team at Add Energy works closely with Maintenance Managers and their teams across multiple sectors to help asset owners and operators assure safety integrity of their assets, enhance performance and unlock efficiencies within maintenance and materials management.

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