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The Ins and Outs of a Maintenance Planner Role


Are your equipment breakdowns increasing, your maintenance budgets stretching, and your staff’s productivity dwindling? If so, a key individual may need to be added to your maintenance management equation: a Maintenance Planner. Understanding the precise maintenance planner description is crucial for manufacturers, industrial companies, or any organization with a substantial asset portfolio.

Maintenance planners embody the old saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” They sit at the heart of maintenance management, ensuring everything revolves smoothly and efficiently. They think ahead, coordinate all planned work, juggle resources, and minimize disruptions.

To feed your curiosity, we’ve pulled together some key highlights about the role:

  • Title: Variations include “maintenance planner/scheduler,” “maintenance planning manager” or “job and material planner.”
  • Primary function: To create maintenance plans to reduce delays and costs and improve workflow.
  • Essential skills: They need excellent organizational, communication, project management, and problem-solving skills and a robust understanding of mechanical and engineering concepts.
  • Result: When done right, their work proves instrumental in maintaining assets in good condition, ensuring smooth running operations, minimizing interruptions, and curbing maintenance costs.

Suppose you’re in a position where dealing with hiccups in your operations has become the norm. In that case, consider the critical role a maintenance planner might play in your organization. In the following sections, we’ll delve into the nitty-gritty of their job description, required skills, and the tools that enable them to keep things running smoothly. Stay tuned.

Understanding the Job Description of a Maintenance Planner

A maintenance planner is at the heart of every large maintenance operation, ensuring work runs smoothly and efficiently. Their responsibilities are diverse and multifaceted, crucial in coordinating maintenance work, creating and assigning work orders, managing maintenance schedules and inventory, and liaising between maintenance and operations.


Role in Coordinating Maintenance Work

The primary role of a maintenance planner is to coordinate all plannable maintenance work on the premises. They coordinate available resources and maintenance personnel to ensure that jobs get done on time. This includes hundreds of small tasks that need to be done to keep machinery and equipment in operating condition, especially for asset-intensive organizations such as manufacturers.


Creating and Assigning Work Orders

As part of their role, a maintenance planner is responsible for creating maintenance schedules and generating work orders. They estimate the labor and parts costs for industrial equipment, adjust schedules to account for emergency work, and assist and support the maintenance manager. They ensure that the right resources, such as parts and inventory, are available to complete the job.


Maintenance Scheduling and Inventory Management

An essential part of the maintenance planner description involves scheduling and inventory management. They must create procedural manuals that explain how to do specific tasks and maintain parts inventory. This involves meticulously documenting maintenance tasks, assigning work orders to the right technicians, maintaining the budget, and continuously updating information in the CMMS.


Liaison Between Maintenance and Operations

A maintenance planner often liaises between the maintenance department and other operational departments. They ensure everyone receives timely, efficient, and quality service. Sometimes, they may also be tasked with resolving disputes between different departments. For instance, if maintenance and production disagree about the urgency of a particular maintenance task, part of the maintenance planner’s job is to communicate with the different departments involved and devise an acceptable solution to the problem at hand.

In conclusion, a maintenance planner’s role is integral to an organization, ensuring that maintenance tasks are carried out efficiently and effectively. They work proactively to plan, schedule, and coordinate maintenance activities, significantly reducing maintenance costs, minimizing the maintenance backlog, extending the asset life cycle, and increasing output.


Essential Skills Required for a Maintenance Planner

A maintenance planner’s role can be challenging. To be successful, they must possess a unique set of skills. We can provide a more accurate maintenance planner description by understanding these skills.


Clear Communication Skills

A maintenance planner is often the liaison between the maintenance team and other departments within an organization. They must communicate maintenance plans, schedules, and updates to multiple stakeholders to ensure smooth operations. This includes writing detailed work orders and manuals to explain complex processes essential to maintaining safety standards in the workplace. Without clear communication, there can be delays, or a technician could miss vital safety information, risking injury.


Knowledge of Maintenance and Workflow Processes

A maintenance planner must have a deep understanding of maintenance and workflow processes. This knowledge allows them to effectively plan, schedule, and coordinate maintenance activities without interfering with operations or production activities. They must prioritize work orders, especially in emergencies or a maintenance backlog. They need to know the tasks well enough to estimate the required number of labor hours, tools, and resources needed to complete different work orders. Prior experience as a technician or maintenance supervisor can be beneficial.


Strong Technology Skills

In today’s technology-driven world, a maintenance planner must be tech-savvy. They must leverage software solutions, likeComputerized Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS)or Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) tools like SAP and Oracle Netsuite, to manage and track maintenance activities effectively. These tools are essential for planning and coordinating labor, parts and materials, and equipment access. They also provide real-time data and updates, ensuring accurate and timely maintenance scheduling and inventory management.

The maintenance planner description includes a professional with excellent communication skills, a sound understanding of maintenance and workflow processes, and robust technology skills. These capabilities are crucial for improving workforce productivity and quality by anticipating and eliminating potential delays through effective planning and coordination.


The Importance of Planning in Maintenance

A core part of the maintenance planner description revolves around the importance of planning in maintenance. It’s not just about keeping equipment running; it’s about ensuring that all maintenance activities are scheduled and coordinated in a way that maximizes productivity, minimizes downtime, and makes the best use of resources.


Identifying and Solving Potential Problems

Maintenance planning is crucial for identifying potential problems before they become significant issues. This involves anticipating possible hold-ups and bottlenecks in the workflow and finding ways to eliminate them. It’s a proactive approach that requires a deep understanding of mechanical and engineering concepts and strong problem-solving skills.

For instance, if a piece of machinery regularly breaks down, a maintenance planner will coordinate the repair work and investigate the root cause. Through thorough analysis and problem-solving, they can suggest modifications or preventive measures to prevent future breakdowns, thereby reducing the frequency of unscheduled downtime.


Scheduling Maintenance Based on Available Resources

Effective maintenance planning also involves scheduling maintenance tasks based on available resources. This includes labor, parts, materials, and equipment access. A maintenance planner must be adept at juggling these components to create a schedule that minimizes disruption to operations and production activities.

A critical tool for this is a Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS), which helps create preventive maintenance schedules, assign work orders to available technicians, and track inventory. It is a central repository for storing vital documentation, enhancing organization and efficiency in maintenance planning.


Transitioning from Reactive to Proactive Maintenance

One of the critical goals of a maintenance planner is to transition the organization from a reactive (or “firefighting”) maintenance approach to a proactive one. This means moving away from merely responding to breakdowns as they occur and towards a system of regular inspections and maintenance that can prevent these breakdowns from occurring in the first place.

This shift reduces the frequency of expensive, unscheduled repairs, extends the lifespan of equipment, and increases overall productivity. Maintenance planners play a crucial role in this transition by effectively using the tools and resources at their disposal, including CMMS and shift planning software.

In conclusion, maintenance planning is pivotal in ensuring an organization’s maintenance activities run smoothly and efficiently. It involves identifying potential problems, scheduling maintenance based on resources, and shifting the organization’s approach from reactive to proactive maintenance. At MicroMain, we provide the tools and resources to make this crucial role more effortless and efficient.


Tools and Software Used by Maintenance Planners

In our digital era, the maintenance planner role heavily relies on technology to streamline operations. Various software solutions support these professionals’ day-to-day tasks, ensuring efficiency, accuracy, and productivity. Here are the essential tools typically incorporated into a maintenance planner description.


Computerized Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS)

A CMMS is a cornerstone of the maintenance planner’s toolbox. This software simplifies maintenance management by automating various tasks, providing real-time data, and facilitating effective communication between team members. At MicroMain, our CMMS software is designed to make receiving work requests, creating preventive maintenance schedules, and assigning work orders to available technicians a breeze. It also enables maintenance planners to track inventory using cycle counts and provides a central repository for storing necessary documentation. The ability to generate custom reports and access to accurate equipment history are among the critical features that make CMMS an indispensable tool for maintenance planners.


Shift Planning Software

When coordinating workers’ shifts, especially in large facilities like manufacturing plants, maintenance planners need a tool that offers a feature-rich calendar. Shift planning software provides a clear view of who’s working on which days, who will be absent, and the total labor costs for the day. It allows planners to schedule shifts weeks or months in advance, ensuring smooth operations and efficient resource allocation.


Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Software

ERP software is another essential tool that helps maintenance planners reconcile data across different departments. It integrates inventory, labor, sales, marketing, and finance in one place, enabling planners to link maintenance data with other relational databases. At MicroMain, our ERP solutions integrate with our CMMS, allowing maintenance planners to align maintenance work with production schedules and goals seamlessly.

These digital tools are crucial in the modern maintenance planner’s role, enabling them to plan, coordinate, and manage maintenance activities effectively. By leveraging these tools, companies can optimize maintenance operations, reduce downtime, and save costs.


Career Path and Salary Expectations for a Maintenance Planner


Common Paths to Becoming a Maintenance Planner

As we delve deeper into the maintenance planner description, it’s crucial to understand the typical career paths leading to this role. There are different routes one can take to become a maintenance planner.

One common path is via academic qualifications. This could involve completing an undergraduate degree or college course in a closely related subject like information management, facility management, or engineering. Following this, individuals often undertake a postgraduate project management or operations management program.

Alternatively, some individuals enter this field through an apprenticeship. By combining relevant work experience with strong computing abilities, individuals can apply directly for planning assistant positions. This route provides hands-on experience, and after about 3 to 4 years of dedicated apprenticeship, an assistant planner should be sufficiently competent to handle the work independently.

Several nationally and internationally recognized certifications, like the certified maintenance planner course offered by the University of Milford, can help potential maintenance planners improve their position in the job market.


Average Salary and Factors Influencing It

The salary expectations for a maintenance planner can vary based on several factors, such as their industry, the organization’s size, and their years of experience in the role. According to Payscale, the average base salary per annum for maintenance planners in the US is $72k, while Indeed cites an average pay of $73k plus $4k profit sharing annually.

Additional benefits include health insurance, pension plans, paid sick time, and relocation assistance. As per surveys on Indeed, 58% of maintenance planners in the US believe their salaries are sufficient for their cost of living.

At MicroMain, we understand the importance of a maintenance planner’s role and the need for competitive compensation. Investing in our people is one of the best ways to ensure the successful planning and execution of maintenance activities.

In conclusion, the role of a maintenance planner is multifaceted and critical for the efficient functioning of any asset-intensive organization. By understanding a maintenance planner’s job description, essential skills, tools, and career path, organizations can better appreciate this critical role and its impact on their maintenance operations.



The Integral Role of a Maintenance Planner in an Organization

The maintenance planner description outlined in this guide demonstrates these professionals’ pivotal roles in an organization. Maintenance planners are a linchpin in any asset-intensive company because they can coordinate maintenance work, assign work orders, schedule maintenance tasks, and connect maintenance and operations.

Their in-depth understanding of maintenance and workflow processes, excellent communication skills, and proficiency in using various planning and management tools enable them to efficiently manage the numerous tasks that fall under their purview. Their role is integral to transitioning from a reactive to a proactive maintenance approach, allowing the organization to foresee and counter potential issues that could lead to costly downtime.

Just as a conductor is essential to an orchestra, a maintenance planner is crucial to an organization’s maintenance department. They ensure all moving parts work harmoniously together, minimizing disruptions and maximizing productivity. The result is a smoother operation, reduced costs, and a more efficient use of resources.

At MicroMain, we understand the critical role maintenance planners play in an organization. OurCMMS and EAM software solutions are designed with features that can support and enhance the work of maintenance planners, making their tasks more straightforward and efficient. With our tools, maintenance planners can focus on what they do best – ensuring that your organization’s assets are always in top shape.

To learn more about how MicroMain can support your maintenance planners, check out our preventive maintenance management and corrective maintenance strategies.

In the end, when the responsibilities of a maintenance planner are effectively managed, it leads to a well-oiled, efficient operation that significantly contributes to the organization’s overall success.



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