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Work Orders in maintenance: Complete Guide

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You must have heard about the term Work Order in the industrial environment at some point in your life, right? But do you know how they work and why they are so important?

A Work Order (WO) is a document that formalizes any kind of maintenance service performed by a team. 

It is fundamental in order to organize business processes, ensuring better results for both the company and its employees.

Therefore, it is important to understand everything about Work Orders – what they are, what they look like, how to manage them, and their impact on the maintenance sector – and all this is exactly what we will explain in this complete guide. Enjoy!

What is a Work Order?

Work Orders are used by the maintenance team to formalize and detail the work that has been requested for execution, such as: performing the inspection of some part, component, or equipment, the materials, tools, people responsible, and the equipment needed to do the work.

Imagine a hypothetical situation where a rolling bearing needs to be replaced. In this case, you can create a Work Order outlining the problem, the price of the repair, the priority, and the most suitable technician for the activity. Everything clearly reported in one single document.

Regardless of the sector in which they are required, Work Orders are very useful, as they formalize the work performed by the maintenance team. With them, it is easier to achieve all the standards that the organization seeks to maintain, as well as to have a historical record of occurrences. That is why it is so important that they are filled out correctly.  

Check out our complete guide to Maintenance Planning and Control

Many industries still use paper-based Work Orders and fill them out manually, resulting in a large accumulation of papers and impacting the correct workflow. This type of delay affects both the industry’s production and its management, due to the loss of information and of the WO itself. 

Imagine the following scenario: at the beginning of the week, the technician gets the Work Orders assigned to him and they are on paper. He performs the work, and takes general notes about the service, with no details about what was done, the equipment, or the component.

When he finishes the tasks, the technician hands over the papers to the maintenance planner, who is responsible for registering everything into some ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) or spreadsheet, in order to evaluate what was done.

Now imagine this situation happening in a large team, where it is necessary to keep track of what is the next maintenance procedure and make sure it is performed on time. 

In this case, the maintenance planner will need to follow this whole process, tracking which machines need inspections, distributing WOs throughout the team, and ensuring the sustainability of the production operation in the plant.  

The maintenance managers, on the other hand, have to ensure the availability of the equipment. In order to do this, they need detailed information in the Work Orders so they can make the best decisions and lead the team.

Usually, maintenance supervisors check the planned WOs and the MPC (Maintenance Planning and Control) to schedule the tasks that need to be performed, which are often synchronized with production downtime. 

Everything you need to know about Maintenance Planning and Control (MPC)

For this reason, it is fundamental that the WO is well structured, with detailed information about the work to be executed, which components need to be checked, and the material to be used.

What does a paper Work Order look like?

The main purpose of a WO is to guide the work that needs to be done, both in relation to the manager’s expectations and to what is expected from the team involved. With this resource, it is possible to control productivity, labor, and materials used in the service delivered. 

With that in mind, it is clear that the WO is used by maintenance leaders as a requisition and authorization to allow the team to perform a given task.

There are several types of Work Orders in maintenance, which can vary significantly according to the segment in which they are being directed. However, there are some standards to be followed that, together, configure a “WO model”. They are as follows:

  • Requester (collaborator) data;
  • Date of issue;
  • Document number (to distinguish each Work Order and simplify organization) – e.g. BC#32408;
  • Values (unit and total) and costs;
  • Signatures with job specifications (of the requester, the executor, and the occupational health and safety technician);
  • A detailed description of the processes with all the information to be performed;
  • Information on the equipment, labor, and procedures recommended to be used in the service;
  • Term of responsibility (defining the obligations of each party involved);
  • Work Order Review (field to keep the WO always up to date);
  • Operational risk (it is crucial that managers know these risks and seek to minimize them);
  • Personal protective equipment required to perform the work;
  • Preventive measures (according to work safety regulations);
  • Capabilities and skills that are required to perform each task.
Work Order template

Work Order Automation

In the traditional way, paper Work Orders can be lost, pile up on the maintenance planner’s desk, cause delays, among other problems. Because of this, there is an alternative to implement an automated process, to simplify WO management as well as guarantee better results for the company. 

Nowadays, there are softwares that allow WO automation, such as TRACTIAN’s CMMS, TracOS™.

With it, online monitoring and asset management are integrated. This way it is possible to centralize processes, create, access, and track Work Orders online, in the palm of your hand. 

Discover the differences between Offline and Online Predictive Maintenance

This ensures more agility and productivity in the industry, also improving WO management, budget control, the response time between requests, and reduces production downtime.

A Work Order can be automatically generated when the asset is close to completing 20,000 hours of operation, i.e. close to the time of replacement.

With CMMS TracOS™, you eliminate the risk of losing important information, the handling of huge piles of papers, and time spent trying to understand the Work Order description. The entire process of WO automation is simple and intuitive.

You can understand the right time to exchange parts and components. In addition, it is possible to track the progress of the WO by reading a QR Code from an asset registered in the system.  

Qr code in progress

Want to learn more about automated Work Orders and the CMMS TracOS™ platform? Schedule a demonstration and ask one of our experts all your questions.

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About the author:

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Lucas Dombroysk

FIAP Administrator graduated , with more than a decade of experience in the metalworking industry. Sales Account Executive at TRACTIAN and an expert in optimizing processes through technology.

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