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Get The Big Picture With Process Flowcharting

9/23/14




“Why are you entering shop repair orders that way?”

“Why are you re-ordering those parts now?”

These may be questions you have been asked as a fleet manager and responded, “That is the way we have always done it.”

Frequently, fleet maintenance shops fall into a routine that was established years or decades ago. This routine or work flow process may no longer make sense due to new technology, modifications to the job or department responsibilities, changes in human resources and many more variables. Periodically, it is good practice to take a step back and re-evaluate the current shop work flow process looking for areas to improve and increase productivity in the shop.

The easiest way to outline and thoroughly understand the current fleet maintenance shop work flow process is to create a Process Flowchart. A process flowchart maps out all of the steps involved in a process in sequential order from start to finish. Process flowcharts provide a better understanding of the current work flow process enabling you to…

  • Have a clear understanding for all peopled involved in the process

  • Identify duplication of efforts

  • Find bottlenecks

  • Find time and material wasters

  • Define process boundaries

  • Illustrate inefficiencies

  • Identify opportunities to eliminate routine errors

  • Identify opportunities to streamline and shorten routine paths

  • Troubleshoot an existing problem

  • Promote teamwork and communication

The steps to create a Process Flowchart are as follows:

  1. Define the work flow process to be charted

  2. Determine the scope of the process (start and finish)

  3. List activities/tasks

  4. Identify decision points and “ if/then” steps

  5. Arrange activities/tasks in sequential order

  6. Show flow of process (drawing directional arrows)

  7. Review and analyze

  8. Validate

Creating a process flowchart is a team effort. All people involved should provide input on their current tasks to ensure an accurate representation of the process is drawn. Once the maintenance shop process flowchart is completed, it needs to be analyzed to determine if there are any improvements to be made and then validate the improvements.

The process flowchart can provide a big picture of the maintenance shop operations to the fleet manager helping to identify areas where new technology may replace an activity, tasks that are no longer necessary and other areas of inefficiencies that need to be addressed to improve operations.