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  1.1: What is a work request?

A work request is a formal document (digital or paper) that describes maintenance work that needs completed.

Overview

The maintenance department is home to workers that are skilled in the upkeep of facilities, grounds, equipment, vehicles, and other assets. They are the caretakers of property and, as a result, support a variety of customer needs. These needs can quickly add onto regular, scheduled work such as routine cleaning and preventive maintenance. In order to manage and validate all tasks, maintenance must operate with a clear workflow.

A work request is the identification of work needed, issued by the customer to the maintenance department.

The key elements to a work request include (but are not limited to):

  1. Requesting party: an individual person or department
  2. Issue: these can include leaky faucets, carpentry work, snow removal, landscaping, interior lighting renewal, tooling changeover, and vehicle repair
  3. Priority: low, medium, or high; due dates should be stated if known
  4. Location: specific area in facility and specific plant if there are multiple
  5. Budget: important for work planning and negotiations, accounting and finance records, and management approval

The more detailed a work request, the better. Detailed work requests help maintenance supervisors and managers turn a work request into a work order faster.

Types of work requests

Work requests can be classified in several ways depending on the type of industry, size of business, and size of maintenance team. Some different types of maintenance requests are listed below.

By type of requestor

  • Tenant request: HVAC stops working, running toilet, drywall repair
  • Operator request: machine stops working, high scrap rates, fluid leaks
  • Employee request: furniture relocation, change of office lights, carpet repair

By type of establishment

  • School request: restrooms, classrooms, laboratories maintenance
  • Park request: turf, landscaping, sign repair
  • Industrial request: blast furnaces, boilers, food conveyor maintenance

By type of priority

  • Discretionary (important but not mandatory): office painting, moving of furniture, cubicle upgrading
  • Non-discretionary (mandatory)
  • Emergency (associated with protecting lives or preventing loss of expensive assets): chemical spills, power failures, ice removal from walkways
  • Urgent (associated with timeliness of work needed): restoration of hot water in a lavatory, air-conditioning repair, running urinals
  • Routine: preventive maintenance activities, routine cleaning, lawn mowing
  • Non-routine: in addition to emergency and urgent work, this also includes planned special projects

Example of a work request

The production manager of a fictional company, Food Packer ABC, submits a work request to their maintenance team with the following details:

  • Work Request Title: Install New Food Packing Line
  • Details: New packing line has been delivered with 12 pallets. They are to be installed in the same processing room as 8 other lines. We are a month behind on this project and need additional capacity to deliver our customer requirements. Aim to complete assembly one week from receipt of this request. Remaining project budget is $3,000.
  • Priority: High

In this example, the production manager is under pressure to get the company’s new packing line up and running within one week. The work request is submitted to maintenance with the goal of getting it converted to a work order. Certain parameters are included in the details and those need to be considered by maintenance before moving to the next step of the workflow.

The work request allows the maintenance department to ask the following questions:

  • Can we perform the work within the requested timeline?
  • Do we have the resources internally to complete the request?
  • If we don’t have the internal resources, is the remaining budget sufficient to cover outsourcing costs?
  • Do we have the assembly instructions?
  • If we can’t complete within the requested time, when can we do it?

In this scenario, the type of request can be considered a non-routine request, as it is a special project. That said, it is likely that the work request will be converted into a work order and the rest of the steps in the workflow will follow.

How work requests improve maintenance

Instead of everything being turned into a work order, work requests serve as a “regulator” between desired work and assigned work. Everything must pass through a filter, whether that’s the supervisor, manager, or someone else. It improves prioritization and organization.

In our example with Food Packer ABC, the specific benefit to maintenance is that the expectations are made clear in the details section of the work order. These come in the form of the reason for the urgency, desired completion timeline, and allocated budget. If all parameters can be met, the assigned maintenance person will approve the work request and convert it to a work order. If not all parameters can be met, then the assigned maintenance person will have to communicate what is achievable with the requestor.