Every company has a different idea of what a maintenance supervisor is responsible for, as I have experienced during my time employed as a maintenance supervisor. That being said, there is still a generally accepted core focus that should apply to any maintenance supervisor role.

In its simplest terms, the role of a maintenance supervisor is to ensure the maintenance team in their care is kept busy on the highest priority work, safely.

So, what exactly does a maintenance supervisor do?

Without getting into comprehensive detail, the typical duties of a maintenance supervisor include:

  • Managing the day-to day execution of maintenance tasks
  • Giving guidance to the employees under their supervision
  • Ensuring the work is carried out safely (including all required paperwork is correctly filled in and any physical work is carried out to the stated safety requirements) and to the required level of quality
  • Eliminating (as far as possible) the need for rework

In short, the maintenance supervisor is responsible for safety, guidance, prioritising work tasks, ensuring components and tools are available for the crew to use and quality control of the work being carried out by the crew.

Maintenance supervisors are responsible for oversight of day-to-day maintenance tasks, coordinating this, where necessary, with the production/operations supervisor, maintenance engineer and/or plant engineer. This includes the supervision of their own staff, as well as contractors that come under their control.

They are also responsible for coordinating and managing the planning and execution of any breakdown tasks that may arise during their shift.

Maintenance supervisors are also responsible for suggesting and implementing improvements to the way day-to-day maintenance tasks are carried out.

Maintenance supervisors frequently need to interact with production supervision, maintenance planners and schedulers, and warehouse personnel to ensure that planned and scheduled work can start at the scheduled time and can be completed within the time allotted to the maintenance crew.

They may also need to interact with:

  • Metallurgists
  • Mining engineers
  • Process engineers
  • Health and safety officers
  • Other maintenance supervisors
  • Other support staff

The maintenance supervisor needs to contribute to maintenance planning and scheduling and equipment commissioning as required.

During weekly and shutdown planning

During weekly and shutdown planning, maintenance supervisors are responsible for:

  • Ensuring all assets required to carry out a task are available
  • Reviewing task plans prepared by the planner for accuracy, in particular ensuring that the correct assets, materials, duration and manpower are assigned to the task.
  • Ensuring the planned schedule is achievable (whether a weekly or a shutdown schedule).
  • Ensuring any performance related Key Performance Indicators are achieved.
  • Ensuring the estimates of manpower available to be scheduled is accurate. This should consider periods of work crew unavailability for reasons including annual leave, training, meetings etc.

At or before shift start

In preparation for commencement of a work shift, maintenance supervisors are responsible for:

  • Obtaining a handover from the previous shift of the status of maintenance tasks in progress and/or completed.
  • Ensuring that all work crew members are in attendance and are fit for work.
  • Conducting pre-shift safety briefing as required.
  • Allocating tasks to team members.

During task preparation and allocation

In preparation for execution of a planned and scheduled maintenance task, maintenance supervisors are responsible for:

  • Ensuring all assets required to carry out a task are available, ideally this would fall to the scheduler to organize, but the final checks before maintenance work is carried out are usually performed by the maintenance supervisor.
  • Performing final checks to ensure all parts, materials and special tools and/or equipment required to carry out the task are readily available and acquired from the stores before the task begins.
  • Ensuring team members attend scheduled training, etc.
  • Ensuring tasks are allocated to team members with the skills and capabilities to perform the task. This is a huge issue in developing countries, where the skillset is a mixture of skilled tradesmen and not-so-skilled tradesmen. It is bad practice to put someone on a job, who hasn’t the capability to complete it properly and expect anything other than failure.

During task execution

While Maintenance tasks are being performed, maintenance supervisors are responsible for:

  • Conducting quality assurance inspections periodically as needed.
  • Providing technical guidance and advice to members of the work team, as required.
  • Tracking progress of the task against the estimated duration.
  • Adjusting the allocation of team members to tasks and/or the daily schedule as required in response to variations from the schedule.
  • Communicating with operations/production personnel as required to inform them of likely return-to-service times for equipment that is out of service for maintenance.
  • Adjusting the allocation of team members to tasks in response to breakdowns and/or other urgent work that arises during the shift (see below).

During equipment breakdown response

During an equipment breakdown, maintenance supervisors are responsible for:

  • Coordinating troubleshooting/diagnosis of the cause of the breakdown.
  • Mobilising/allocating the appropriate team members to respond to the issue, to minimise the unplanned downtime.
  • Requesting the isolation permit (if required) and ensuring the correct equipment/systems are being isolated.
  • Ensuring that a work order is raised in the Computerised Maintenance Management System (CMMS) for the breakdown as soon as practicable.
  • In conjunction with the breakdown crew, identifying any spare parts, materials, special tools and/or equipment required to rectify the breakdown.
  • Requisitioning and/or obtaining any spare parts, materials, special tools and/or equipment required from the warehouse or other sources.
  • Preparing any required work permits or safety permits.
  • Reviewing the crew Job Safety Analysis and/or Job Hazard Analysis.
  • Providing direction to the crew, ensuring the repairs are of a high quality.
  • Once the repair is complete, handing the equipment back to operations and ensuring the equipment runs as required.
  • Taking part in any root cause analysis (RCA) following the equipment breakdown.

During equipment commissioning

During any equipment commissioning, the maintenance supervisor is responsible for:

  • Ensuring any safety requirements/procedures have been followed by the crew.
  • Advising any need to update or change any safety or maintenance procedures.
  • Ensuring the commissioning tasks are done to the required quality.
  • Ensuring any data being recorded is being done accurately, and the commissioning/test documentation is handed in at the end of the task.

Following task completion

Following completion of any maintenance task, the maintenance supervisor is responsible for:

  • Communicating task completion (as needed) to operations/production.
  • Ensuring that any unused parts or materials are returned to the warehouse.
  • Ensuring that any repairable/rotable items are suitably tagged and identified, returned to the warehouse or workshop and the repairable/rotable item repair process is initiated.
  • Ensuring that all data required to be noted on the maintenance work order (including cause codes, technical history etc.) is completed, in full, to the appropriate quality, in a timely manner. This should involve the maintenance supervisor performing a quality review of the completed work order.
  • Ensuring that all time confirmations/time sheets are completed accurately and in a timely manner.
  • Ensuring that any follow-on work arising from the work order has been identified, and that any follow-on work orders have been raised.
  • Noting any improvement opportunities that have been raised by crew members and initiating the process for having these addressed.

At end of shift

At the end of each shift, the maintenance supervisor is responsible for:

  • Documenting and providing a handover to the next shift of the status of maintenance tasks in progress and/or completed

Additional responsibilities

Additionally, the maintenance supervisor maybe called on to:

  • Help identify spares in the warehouse.
  • Carry out training with the crew.
  • Assist operations with minor issues.
  • Carry out area safety inspections.
  • Oversee contractor crews.
  • Meet with original equipment manufacturer (OEM) representatives.
  • Take part in process improvement projects.
  • Take part in safety investigations.
  • Carry out performance reviews on the crew.
  • Review and approve leave requests.
  • Assist with the recruitment of new team members.

Are you doing the right maintenance, at the right time?

Examining the role of your maintenance supervisor can only offer you part of the bigger picture – the maintenance performance of your organisation. On the journey to increased uptime, reliability, and production, it is important to take a holistic approach and question the maturity of your processes.

If you would like additional insights into what best-practice maintenance can look like on a shop-floor level, consider browsing our other articles on maintenance management.

If you are in the process of reviewing your maintenance maturity, we are well-versed in assessing the maintenance maturity of organisations from a wide range of industries. Consider an obligation-free discussion with us to understand the best approach for you.

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