There are two common types of work orders that do not cover a particular job on a specific asset. They are standing and blanket work orders. These terms sometimes are used interchangeably, but there is a difference.

Blanket work orders remain open for extended periods, are charged to a department level (or higher) and are used to capture costs for miscellaneous work that is done. Details of this work are lost, but I have encountered operations where up to 60 percent of all maintenance work is charged to blanket work orders. This work usually includes some major projects. Blanket work orders should be avoided.

Standing work orders also remain open for an extended length of time, often indefinitely, and have the purpose of capturing costs and history for specific types of work or other activities. Standing work orders have the advantage of reducing work order administration efforts. Your maintenance computer system will record many details of each transaction charged to standing work orders, such as the date, time, name, stock issued and purchases. Because the date of the transaction is recorded, it should not be necessary to enter a new standing work order each year, although this will depend on the reporting features in your maintenance system.

Appropriate uses of standing work orders include routine activities, such as shop clean-up, safety meetings, weekly tool checks, etc., as well as specific repetitive tasks like connecting and disconnecting chemical cars, where the standing work order is charged to the proper asset.

A standing work order would also be suitable when the maintenance system will not allow transactions to be charged directly to asset numbers. Setting up a standing work order for each asset can provide a similar record. This is often employed for mobile equipment and for recording small maintenance jobs on some infrastructure and manufacturing equipment. It can be something of a work-around to compensate for a lack of maintenance software functionality, but it works.

For mobile equipment, there is a distinct advantage in using a standing work order instead of a unique work order for each service or repair job. If a standing work order is employed, all parts on a vehicle can be viewed by looking at the work order history. If unique work orders are utilized, parts will be recorded against each work order. In most maintenance computer systems, it is difficult to see all the parts used on an item of equipment. In fact, in most systems this requires examining every work order or running a special report.

Standing work orders can save valuable administration time. However, they can also be abused and must be managed. Of course, that applies to all types of work orders.