The word “backlog” conjures images of machines working beyond capacity, stacks of work ordering weighing down the plant manager’s desk and stacked to the ceiling as they wait for machines to be fixed. In reality, backlog is a term used by plant managers and maintenance to prioritize the work orders as they are created.

How Backlog Works

Good preventive maintenance requires scheduling of maintenance for each machine over the life of that machine. The schedule can be as detailed as the one in your car’s owner’s manual, but it does take into account milestones. Most plants only hold detailed schedules in the short term, using the backlog to contain projects that are in the future, but not close enough to make the detailed schedule.

How Backlog is Managed

Each plant has a different technique for managing the backlog. Some use two categories: scheduled and unscheduled. The scheduled items are those needed immediately, which go on a detailed list. The unscheduled items are new work orders for items that are outside of the regular schedule. They include breakdowns, troubleshooting, and maintenance of an issue that another employee has spotted. The plant has two teams to handle each kind of item, ensuring that even the unexpected is caught before it escalates into a plant shutdown problem.

Tools Used

There are also tools designed to help keep the work organized. A color-coded backlog board is often used to keep things in order. The maintenance tasks are further divided by urgency. Work orders are transcribed onto colorful strips of paper that are placed on the board. They are large enough to be seen from a few feet away, but have detailed information for those who need it. The boards work in conjunction with a computerized preventive maintenance system to give workers a visual representation of the work that needs to be done.

Another tool is an equipment placard. It is placed on the machine that will need the maintenance and is custom created for the equipment and the plant. The face of the placard contains the vital information about the machine like name serial number, etc. it also hold the maintenance schedule, complete with tasks and their frequency. Some also have diagrams of the machine and step-by-step directions for performing the maintenance.

A backlog isn’t something to be afraid, but a duty that must be properly managed. Consider your backlog as first line of defenses against breakdown. Consult you Eagle Technologies customer care representative for more information on preventive maintenance for your new machine.