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How to Create the Ideal Preventive Maintenance Schedule: Tips and Steps

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Manager creating a preventive maintenance schedule

Key Takeaway

  • A preventive maintenance schedule is a planned approach to regularly maintaining equipment to prevent breakdowns and optimize performance. To create one, identify critical assets, determine appropriate maintenance tasks and frequencies based on recommendations and data, then develop a structured plan to consistently execute the maintenance.
  • Preventive maintenance (PM) is a popular form of maintenance management that relies on scheduled interventions to maintain a high level of equipment performance. A proactive approach to maintenance helps to reduce the likelihood of equipment failures while giving a company control over how they manage their plan.

    With a systematic approach, it is possible to develop a PM plan that is effective and improves the performance of managed assets.

    In this post, we’re going to discuss how to create the ideal preventive maintenance schedule along with four important tips.

    Keep in mind, one major risk with preventive maintenance is the potential to incur increased costs if too much work is performed than is truly required to maintain performance. This can be a difficult threshold to determine and requires attentiveness and patience while developing a preventive maintenance plan.

    The suggestions presented in this post can help you leverage proven practices that have been shown to add clear value to maintenance planning.

    1. Create a Complete Asset Inventory & Tag Your Assets

    Maintenance technician performing asset inventory

    One of the first tasks to complete when creating a preventive maintenance schedule is to compile a complete asset inventory. An asset list is essential because it will define the scope of your preventive maintenance plan.

    Maintaining an organized asset list ultimately creates the structure for your PM program and allows you to create a customized schedule for each piece of equipment.

    Performing an asset audit is a great way to confirm each asset and add it to your computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) or enterprise asset management program. When performing an audit; it will also be helpful to ensure that each asset has a proper barcode label or asset tag attached.

    For assets exposed to harsh environmental conditions such as UV rays, chemicals, abrasion, solvents, or extreme temperatures, Metalphoto® barcode labels offer the durability to withstand these conditions and remain readable throughout the lifespan of your assets. Implementing an asset inventory and tracking system with barcode labels also enables your team members to quickly and accurately scan assets for identification and document maintenance work performed, creating a complete maintenance history for each asset.

    2. Define a Clear Decision-Making Process

    A good preventive maintenance schedule should enable clear decision-making about equipment repairs, upgrades, and obsolescence. Many companies choose to flag a subset of their assets as “high priority” and assign them a greater amount of maintenance effort and attention.

    Each asset should be assessed to determine an operational goal that can be maintained for the complete lifecycle of that asset. This benchmark can be made based on a target utilization, performance threshold, or other measurables such as first-pass yield.

    Your decision-making process should also determine which type of maintenance is best for each piece of equipment. Choosing between preventive, reactive, and predictive can be challenging and in some cases, a combination of several methods may work best.

    You should seek to review cost, resources, time, and other factors when determining the best path forward. Developing a periodic maintenance plan review process is an excellent way to confirm schedules and maximize your equipment and resource efficiency.

    3. Use the PDCA Model

    Technician using a preventive maintenance schedule to check off maintenance tasks

    The Plan, Do, Check, Act (PDCA) model is a popular preventive maintenance tool for creating clear policies for working with equipment. This acronym can inform your PM schedule and make it easier to develop effective policies and procedures. The PDCA model is defined as:

    • Plan. Your PM plan for each asset should be created based upon all relevant information available including usage patterns, past maintenance work, and equipment inspections.
    • Do. After a maintenance plan is created it should be followed as written, with any updates passing through a change control process. This helps ensure the validity of data and assists in understanding the impact of maintenance activities on performance.
    • Check. One of the best ways to determine the effectiveness of a preventive maintenance plan is by continuously reviewing asset failure metrics. Equipment failures are a clear indication of an underlying problem and can often lead to PM improvements that can prevent future issues.
    • Act. When a problem is identified, always take action to implement a proper solution. This includes potential changes to your PM schedule to establish long-term mitigation of the risk identified.

    4. Establish Frequencies from Manufacturer Materials

    A preventive maintenance plan works by establishing the frequency of various maintenance tasks that support a given asset. When creating a detailed schedule for a particular asset it can be helpful to review instruction manuals and supporting documentation from the manufacturer.

    A manufacturer will have inside knowledge and many years of experience with these products and their suggestions are a great place to start when formulating your own preventive maintenance schedules.

    Creating an ideal preventive maintenance schedule requires inputs from several different areas. As we’ve discussed, establishing clear techniques for working with asset information, electronic systems, maintenance resources, and management reviews can have a positive impact on a maintenance plan’s success.

    As with many approaches to maintenance, the most important factor for PM schedule success is your team’s commitment to continuous improvement and ability to improve upon the plan as you go.

    8 Steps to Create a Preventive Maintenance Schedule

    Creating an effective preventive maintenance schedule is crucial for ensuring the reliable operation and longevity of critical equipment and assets. The eight key steps involved in developing a comprehensive preventive maintenance schedule are outlined in the table below. Another effective solution is to build a preventive maintenance checklist.

    By systematically working through these steps, organizations can proactively identify maintenance needs, optimize resource allocation, and minimize the risk of unexpected breakdowns.

    StepDescription
    1. Take inventory of assetsIdentify all the critical equipment, assets, and infrastructure that require preventive maintenance.
    2. Prioritize assetsDetermine which assets are most vital to business operations and have the highest maintenance needs. Focus on assets that are critical, have high repair costs, or are prone to failure.
    3. Determine maintenance triggersDecide whether to base the maintenance schedule on time (e.g. monthly), usage (e.g. operating hours), or condition monitoring. This will depend on the asset type and available data.
    4. Identify maintenance tasksList out all the specific inspection, servicing, and other maintenance tasks required for each asset based on manufacturer recommendations and historical data.
    5. Prioritize maintenance tasksRank the maintenance tasks by priority based on factors like asset criticality, safety risks, and operational impact. This will help manage workload.
    6. Assign responsibilitiesDesignate the specific employees or teams responsible for completing each maintenance task. Consider skill levels and scheduling constraints.
    7. Document the scheduleCreate a structured preventive maintenance plan and schedule, potentially using a CMMS or calendar system, to track all the tasks, frequencies, and assignments.
    8. Review and refineMonitor the effectiveness of the preventive maintenance schedule and make adjustments over time based on performance data and feedback.

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