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Maintenance 101 : Documentation – 2, checklists

The first stop where you can make maintenance manuals beneficial is to convert them into checklists. Checklists fits every activity and adds a framework.

During our journey to draw a real image of the maintenance we had chatted around how to make maintenance accepted and trusted by everyone. Not only those who are in the maintenance field but even everyone and every workplace is performing some sort of maintenance. This Happens even without spelling the word “Maintenance”. In our Last chat, Maintenance 101 : Documentation – 1, we had outlined the minimum documentation needed to start a maintenance activity. The first stop where you can make those documents beneficial is to convert them into checklists.

Why Checklists is our starting point?

It is an intermediate level that was preceded by some activities and will by followed by some other activities. Maintenance checklists are a result, a motivator and a control point at the same time.

We shall delve deeper a step by step. As we go deeper, relate the ideas to what you have at work to complete the puzzle.

A simple checklist includes items, numbered, a Yes or No checks, a date and time and , a name or signature. Adding a place for comment is for advanced ones. You may see checklists as an easy task. That’s when your are used to checklist apps on your mobile for daily activities or market needs. We shall start by this simple example of the market needs checklist.

Importance of checklists
The Market Checklist

Before going to the market you had checked what you have at home. Also, what you and other family members need for the coming week or month. You might had also checked the best offers available so you can save time while shopping. Moreover, you are sure you don’t fell in shortage of any item within the intermediate period. In other words, You still can wash your cloth and dishes as you have the right detergents. And, you have enough coffee to wake you up.

Wouldn’t it be easier to arrange the items so all the items from frozen products department are together and those from grocery products are together instead of hoping On and OFF all around the list. Moreover, your life will be a lot easier if you arranged the list based on the geographical location in the store and some logical thinking as pulling the frozen items from the cold store just before going to the cashier and not earlier.

The importance of a checklist

If you didn’t do it for sometime, just right the word “checklist” in any search engine. Spend few minutes with the results. There is almost a checklist for everything in life. To know how important checklists are, just know that there a national US Checklist Day on Oct 30th. It marks the day when checklists where introduced to the aviation industry. You can read more about it in this link. Nowadays any flight to take off needs a lot of filled and signed checklists.

One of the interesting definitions for checklists is the one on Wikipedia

A checklist is a type of job aid used to reduce failure by compensating for potential limits of human memory and attention. It helps to ensure consistency and completeness in carrying out a task. A basic example is the “to do list”.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Checklist

Maintenance checklist

Industry in general has a lot of check lists in its different processes. Operations, Quality and of course maintenance together with every business unit has its own checklist in one form or the other.

The maintenance team usually have many types of checklists. There are checklists for inspection rounds, checklists for each maintenance item, tools checklist, spares check list, even manpower checklist to know who is available to do the work today.

In the beginning of this chat we had said that maintenance checklists are a result, a motivator and a control point at the same time. How is that possible?

Checklists are the result of generating a maintenance system.

When you go through the maintenance manual, pick up the maintenance items that need to be cyclically done to maintain a certain piece of equipment like an air compressor. Example in Figure 1 Below

Air compressor Maintenance schedule-1

The Schedule above is typical in many operation and maintenance manuals where manufacturer recommends some actions to maintain the condition of the machine. In some conditions, failure to show compliance to those schedules may risk your warranty. This may cause rejection to insurance claims. And many more complicated consequences based on the type of industry and area of the world you are in.

Anyhow to make this table useful it must be converted into some sort of checklist where you record these items and at least a tick mark if it was executed, the date of the execution and the executor name. That’s when the checklist is a result of a maintenance system. Moreover, in this context it is a tool to collect feedback and data to feed them back to the system.

When Checklists are a motivator?

It is simple. Still your maintenance team is a group of technicians not robots. How your maintenance system would work if the team didn’t receive a checklist either printed or on their mobile devices to execute and return feedback? Many activities won’t be done. Look at it the other way round, at your maintenance day or at your workshop if the team don’t receive work orders or a list of jobs to be done, they won’t know what to do.

Same concept applies for the routine activities that involve checks and inspections, unless they receive some items to execute and return feedback, they would feel lost. Seldom, you find a maintenance team who makes a complete round without a checklist to fill and feedback to return.

Checklists creates control over activities

It all started from the aviation industry where a plane can’t takeoff without a lot of checklists down to starting the coffee machine to serve the passengers.

Think about the checklist for maintenance preparation including spares, tools and skills. What about the checklist of commissioning and delivering a new machine and, the quality checklist for final product.

Consider the safety checklists followed and filled before turning the machine to the maintenance team. A special precaution is needed with these lists when the maintenance activity will be done in a confined space, an emptied tank for flammable material or inside a hot cement kiln. The maintenance team feels confident after the area subject to maintenance is safely controlled.

In Conclusion,

Checklist are one of the most important documents in any maintenance system. Maintenance systems whether digital or manual generates checklists to control the execution of the maintenance activities within predefined steps and to collect feedback. In a coming chat we shall see practical steps to covert a maintenance schedule to a checklist with some easy automation that can be done online. Stay Safe, don’t forget to enjoy your coffee.

If you feel you need help with any of these elements, drop us a line for free initial investigation.
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