The facilities maintenance department is strategic for any organization. Whether you need to keep an airport running, or guarantee the capacity to receive 1000 guests, you will not achieve your goals without maintenance. But how do you organize the maintenance department and allocate tasks?

The main challenge of maintenance is to interfere as little as possible with a company’s usual activities, while at the same time avoiding service disruptions. Therefore, the maintenance strategy must align with the company’s objectives. The maintenance manager is the one who makes this bridge, but it is the supervisors and technicians who execute the plan.

Maintenance Manager job description

Generally speaking, the maintenance manager needs to ensure the reliability of the assets. It sounds incredibly simple, but “it’s easier said than done“. To achieve a single goal, maintenance managers need to:

  • schedule all preventive and predictive maintenance activities according to global objectives;
  • ensure that maintenance activities interfere as little as possible with the normal operation of the company;
  • manage the department’s budget and reduce equipment maintenance and repair costs;
  • allocate each task to a specific team or technician, depending on the size of the department;
  • manage the inventory of materials used for maintenance, repairs, and operations (MRO);
  • submit reports to the company’s management, according to the established KPIs;
  • supervise outsourcing contracts and SLAs;
  • implement hygiene and safety procedures.

Who can be a maintenance manager?

Most maintenance managers have an engineering background. However, basic training varies depending on the type of organization and equipment at stake.

For example, in manufacturing, which handles a lot of mechanical equipment on the production lines, training in industrial engineering, electronic engineering, mechanical or electromechanical engineering is most valuable. However, when it comes to building management, a facilities management professional, civil engineer, or even an architect can take over the function.

There is also the term “reliability engineering”, a sub-discipline of systems engineering, still not widespread in Africa. In addition to training, experience also contributes to performing the position.

Supervisor job description

In larger teams, maintenance supervisors are the bridge between management and technicians. Despite being the maintenance manager who defines the planning, it is the supervisors who monitor the daily work:

  • define daily schedules and allocate tasks to specific technicians;
  • inspect facilities and check equipment to identify possible problems;
  • recruit and train new technicians, and often promote continuous training actions.

Who can be a maintenance supervisor?

Again, it depends a lot on the specificity of the equipment. In building maintenance, it is common to find engineers in supervisory roles. For example, electromechanical engineers are professionals indicated to supervise these maintenance works. They are usually called the facility engineers

In smaller teams, such as hotel maintenance departments, it can be a more experienced employee or a technician with specific training. It would be the case, for example, of a chief gardener, the head of housekeeping, or HVAC technicians certified to handle fluorinated gases.

The main thing is that the supervisor has the technical knowledge to check the equipment’s operation, as well as to lead and advise the team. After all, there will always be unscheduled breakdowns, and they are responsible for day-to-day management!

Technician job description

Maintenance technicians perform the tasks planned by the manager, following the timetable outlined by the supervisor. We can say that they are the fuel of the department, ensuring that everything works 24/7.

The work of technicians is so central to the companies’ operations that, today, the demand for maintenance technicians is greater than the supply. For example, Boeing estimates that 769,000 new aircraft maintenance technicians will be needed by 2038, including 137,000 in Europe, even considering the industry’s decline due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, this data sample neglects Africa.

Who can be a maintenance technician?

Maintenance technicians are qualified professionals, with training equivalent to secondary education. There are technical courses for technicians in industrial maintenance, automotive mechatronics, electromechanics, electrotechnicians, refrigeration, and air conditioning, etc. Depending on the professional course and your certifications, you can handle different equipment.

How to split the maintenance team?

One of the main doubts of many managers is how to organize the team, not least because many departments lack professionals.

One of the main difficulties is in organizing teams that are available at any time, as in hotels and hospitals, which requires planning the work in 3 different shifts. Given that there are generally fewer employees on the night shift, a possible solution for these cases would be:

  • having a picket with multi-skilled technicians on the night shift, to perform mainly scheduled maintenance tasks and respond to breakdowns that arise during these hours;
  • in the remaining shifts, divide the team into preventive work teams (only scheduled work, with low and medium-low priority) and a team dedicated to critical assets (urgent jobs and routine jobs with medium-high and high priority).

Even in well-tuned maintenance teams, 10% of the work is reactive. A 20/80 ratio (corrective/preventive) is still within industry standards. Therefore, this organization allows you to respond to urgent requests without delaying scheduled tasks. Get a better understanding of the 10% golden rule and what the preventive maintenance compliance rate is.

The organization of the team varies according to the number of multi-skilled technicians, the number of employees, the opening hours, and the type of operation. But, regardless of all this, there are 3 points that benefit the organization of any maintenance department:

  • fluid communication channels;
  • quick report of breakdowns;
  • well-prepared job requisitions.

Speak to a member of HEDNIC CONSULT at nsolomon@hednicconsult.com for a rigid audit of your maintenance department and how you can achieve optimum results from your team.


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