What is Wrench Time and Why Should We Measure It?

In the maintenance world, wrench time is a highly useful metric that can help determine productivity levels amongst maintenance teams.  Most people tend to equate high wrench time with high productivity, but before drawing any conclusions, we must first understand wrench time on a deeper level.

What is Wrench Time

 Wrench time is a measurement of how much time maintenance technicians spend performing actual maintenance work (it is also sometimes referred to as tool time).  When one records wrench time they are only measuring the time spent performing maintenance work.  The time spent gathering materials, looking over the work order/instructions, transportation time, planning, or breaks do not count towards wrench time.

While you generally want to have a higher wrench time, this metric does have some drawbacks.  It does not specify whether your maintenance team is doing a quality job, or if they finish the job on time.  There are also some tasks that have higher transportation time, or more detailed instructions, in which it could negatively impact wrench time. 

How to Measure Wrench Time

Wrench time can be measured in a number of different ways, but some methods are more effective than others.

Work Sampling

Work sampling occurs when an analyst observes maintenance technicians and decide whether they are working on the job or not.  If they are not working it is usually due to travel time, waiting on tools/parts, or other delay.  With work sampling, over time productivity should increase.  This method is more accurate than Day in the Life of (DILO) because it follows an entire team for a longer period of time, rather than a single person for one day.  This allows for more data and accuracy. 

Day in the Life of (DILO)

Day in the life of, or DILO, happens when a reliability consultant follows the activities of one maintenance technician for an entire work day.  This method is far more personal than work sampling and allows for questions, comments, and concerns to be answered as they arise throughout the day.  DILO allows for more qualitative data which can be valuable, but largely lacks analytical data.

Tracking Within the Work Order

As new innovations emerge, it is common that many companies track their wrench time within their CMMS.  This is made possible with a mobile application.  Maintenance techs can start and stop their times within the app.  However, it is important that you explain to your team that wrench time is not being used to spy on them to see if they’re working.  It is simply to try to track and reverse barriers to productivity.   

Causes of Low Wrench Time

Obviously wrench time will never be able to reach 100%, but there are some factor that contribute to lower number that can be reduced, or avoided altogether!

Poor Maintenance Planning

This is usually the culprit behind the majority of low wrench times.  As with almost any task, the better the plan the better the outcome.  Good planning means keeping spare tools and parts on hand, making sure training is effective, and keeping travel times minimal.  Of course there will always be hiccups no matter how detailed your plan is, but for the most part idle time can be reduced.

Reactive, Not Preventive

If your maintenance team has a reactive mindset this means they only care about making repairs once a piece of equipment breaks down. This means your team is underutilized, which will be reflected in low wrench time.  Your team should be out performing other preventive measures, not waiting around for something to break.

How to Increase Wrench Time

While wrench time should not be the sole metric you base your KPIs around, it is definitely an important one.  One of the major ways to increase it is by investing in a CMMS software that helps keep everything on track.  A good CMMS will not only increase wrench time, but will help you target other KPIs as well.  To learn more about how CMMS can help with your scheduled maintenance, call us at (352)-795-2362 or schedule a demo today!

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