9 Steps to Building the Best Preventive Maintenance Program

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Preventive maintenance (PM) has long been one of the most effective ways to maintain and manage important assets. Along with corrective (or reactive) and predictive maintenance, preventive maintenance work helps to ensure reliability and equipment uptime. Preventive maintenance focuses on inspections and routine tasks that are done before a particular issue or failure arises. As one can imagine, preventing equipment failures is a very important part of running an efficient operation.

Research has shown that an effective preventive maintenance program can deliver a return on investment (ROI) of up to 545%. Major challenges with preventive maintenance include not overengineering processes or performing unnecessary checks. Therefore, it’s important to develop a strong performance baseline for each asset and utilize best practices to deliver the best possible value. In this post, we’ll review nine key steps that will help you develop an impressive preventive maintenance program.

1. Assemble an Engaged Team

One of the main reasons for preventive maintenance program failure is neglecting to get complete upper management support from the beginning of the project. This is true of any corporate initiative, and project leaders need to communicate the ROI, vision, and the specific value that a preventive maintenance program can deliver. Progress is a common challenge during implementation, and this upfront effort is what keeps key stakeholders informed of why these efforts are necessary. It’s also a good idea to assemble a cross-functional team of representatives from all major departments who can participate in the implementation and ensure that plans are aligned with departmental goals and objectives.

2. Set Clear Preventive Maintenance Goals

Before deploying funds and dedicating resources to building a preventive maintenance program, it’s helpful to clarify the specific goals of the effort. These goals should be tied to specific metrics that can be positively influenced because of the PM program. A couple of examples are reducing the level of reactive maintenance that is necessary or reducing a maintenance work backlog. These goals help keep the team aligned and make decision-making easier when determining the priority of tasks.

3. Implement and Optimize Technology Systems

Using computer to manage preventive maintenance plan tasks

Choosing the right technology systems is a very big decision for any organization. Computerized Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS) and Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) programs are two of the most popular software choices for managing maintenance work. It’s often helpful to choose an all-inclusive software that can perform several desired functions and eliminate the need for separate programs, which helps to eliminate data silos and ensure simple integration. Technology also goes beyond the software itself and should include barcode tags and labels such as equipment tags and asset tags for facilities management, barcode scanners, sensors, and other automated equipment to help streamline the entire preventive maintenance workflow.

4. Create a Complete Inventory of Assets

Before maintenance work can be planned and assigned, each asset must be added to the tracking system and listed as inventory. Creating a full inventory of critical assets is a necessary first step for any maintenance management program. Most CMMS platforms include a visual asset hierarchy that makes it easy to assign and view the relationships between different asset systems and types. With your asset database created, also take time to prioritize the most critical assets to ensure that these maintenance needs are addressed first when the new system is ready.

5. Collect Important Asset Information

As a follow-up to the previous step, collect all pertinent information for each asset so it can be easily digitized and added to the maintenance management system. Most industrial equipment and complex systems may have several documents that should be tracked and cataloged for accessibility. A few examples of important information to organize includes:

  • User manuals
  • Maintenance histories
  • Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) documentation
  • Facility schematics and floor plans
  • Spare parts inventories

Collecting and organizing this information makes the process of updating the maintenance management system much easier. This documentation and data can also be used by staff to develop a comprehensive preventive maintenance plan for each asset.

6. Develop a Plan for Each Asset

Worker performing preventive maintenance on equipment

Each asset will have unique needs that should be addressed by the preventive maintenance program. When reviewing each piece of equipment, think about the potential failure points, existing maintenance plans, and basic functionality to develop your plan. Some aspects of maintenance for a particular asset may be best suited for predictive or corrective maintenance work. Those items that fit best with preventive maintenance should eventually have a set schedule, procedure, and responsibilities assigned to them.

7. Schedule Long-Term Preventive Maintenance Milestones

This step is worth mentioning on its own due to the importance of protecting the highest value assets located at each site. The value described here can relate to the direct book value of the asset or the value that it brings to the operation in terms of production or operational use. When developing your plan, be sure not to overlook long-term planning milestones and major decision points, such as major equipment upgrades or obsolescence.

8. Create an Ongoing Training Program

Another critical step involves training for relevant staff and other departments that work closely with these assets. A strong training program helps reduce the chance of maintenance work being missed or a failure to meet the prepared schedule of service. Training is also a useful tool for reinforcing the purpose and importance of your preventive maintenance program.

9. Track Relevant KPIs

In the second step, we discussed the importance of setting clear goals and metrics for your preventive maintenance program. One final consideration is to set a schedule to review your important KPIs at regular intervals so that issues can be identified and addressed immediately. Some useful metrics that are directly related to preventive maintenance work include workforce productivity, equipment downtime, and equipment cost.

A preventive maintenance program can add significant value to an operation when it’s implemented in a structured and organized way. By following the steps outlined above, you can help create a strong implementation plan based on preventive maintenance best practices to improve site reliability and equipment performance.