Friday, April 17, 2015

Preventative Maintenance Planning - Home, Health and Baby

Industry - Has a plan for maintenance, do you at home?

Do You Track Preventative Home Maintenance?

In my work at manufacturing sites, all plants that are resonably organized do preventative maintenance (PM's). These may be based on time (every 3 months, 6 months), runtime (after a motor runs for 10,000 hours) or use counters (after a packaging machine has processed 100,000 cartons). Doing preventative maintenance is supposed to prevent unplanned equipment failure, and hopefully reduce the total operating cost.

Anyone with a car, knows all about this when it comes to oil changes and other maintenance. Most car owners are religious about doing oil changes when they hit the required mileage, or for newer cars when the vehicle reports it's time for maintenance.

So now we agree it's important to do PM's, and important to track them, because without tracking them there's no guarantee you've completed them. The next step, is having a system to track them.

Step1: Developing a Maintenance Tracking System - Remember The Milk

I'm a big fan of Remember-The-Milk. I use it for personal, as well a work tasks. It supports the following features which are useful for PM tracking:
  1. Ability to create tasks, and share them with others
  2. Tasks persist and become overdue unless they are completed
  3. Ability to have tasks auto repeat on a set interval (ie. 2 weeks after completed)
  4. Ability to query for history of completed task
  5. Mobile as well as desktop support
  6. Fast and easy to use
  7. It's somewhere I will look at regularly, and not ignore
The last point two points are critical. Since RTM is something I use on a daily basis, if a household PM task comes up, I'll see it. If you find you set RTM up, but since you're only using it for seasonal or infrequent tasks, maybe it's not a good fit.

Point #2 is an important reason not to use a calendar. I myself use a calendar and would be lost without it, but if you mark a task on your calendar but don't complete it, you'll never know. A calendar is best for something that occurs at a specific time, and after that time you don't care about it again.

Step2: How to Setup RTM - The Basics

In Remember-The-Milk, you create lists, inside those lists you have tasks.

To track house maintenance, and baby maintenance, we have two lists: House Chores and 88_Reg_Daily. House Chores is shared between the two of us. A screenshot of the tasks is listed below.


This House Chores list is shared between my wife and I.
88_Reg_Daily is my list (named so that it sorts the way I want in my lists), and is not shared with my wife.

As you can see on the selected "Clean Out Coffee Grinder" task, it's set to repeat "after 2 weeks". This means that after the task has been completed, a new task with the same name is created and is due in 2 weeks.

Step3: Fancy RTM and Filtering

One of the best features of RTM is the ability to setup "Smart Lists". I have a smart list called "000_Today". The purpose of this is to have one central place to see items that are due today, that are personal (not work), and any general personal todo items without a due date. The complete query follows:

Not tag: zHide AND NOT tag: znat AND (dueBefore: Tomorrow AND NOT list: 60_WorkWaiting AND NOT tag: am AND (NOT tag: awork OR list: 07_Waiting OR list: 98_ping )) OR list: 02_PerNext

The key parts of this that are useful, are "... AND NOT tag: znat". Items that are tagged znat in the House Chores, do not show up in my 000_Today list. This means tasks that I don't do, like watering the plants, don't show up as due or overdue for me. This way, my wife and I can share a list, but also mark who is responsible for doing certain tasks.

Step4: Additional Uses

Shared tasks like this are great for house maintenance, but also health related tasks. I have a task on my own list to go see a doctor annually. My wife and I have a task to setup an eye appointment when our daughter is old enough, after that initial appointment we can set future tasks to repeat on the required frequency.

If you read the manual on your appliances, you may find many of them require maintenance. As you can see from the lists, my coffee grinder manual recommends cleaning with a wire brush every 2 weeks, and the espresso pump requires flushing one reservoir of water regularly. Hopefully, by following these recommended manufacturer guidelines, the appliances will last longer and perform better.

Data Analysis:

Of course, this wouldn't be my blog if we didn't somehow work in Kijiji ... RTM keeps completed task history, by doing a search on the taskname for my coffee grinder, and clicking the "completed" tab, we can see the following:

Scrolling down, I see grinder cleaning history back to October 27, 2012, over 3 years ago!
If/when I decided to sell the grinder, I can provide a printout of the maintenance history of it.

This also let's you easily see when I last did the task. If it's something that you might postphone like getting an eye test, now you can at least see when your last appointment was when you go to reschedule.


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