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4 Tips to Create the Ideal Preventive Maintenance Schedule

Maintenance Management / CMMS
Manager creating a preventive maintenance schedule

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 4 tips for creating an ideal preventive maintenance schedule. 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 (EAM) 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 in this post, 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.

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