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Key Takeaway

  • Preventive maintenance involves regularly performing maintenance tasks on equipment and systems to prevent unexpected failures and extend their lifespan, which reduces downtime, saves costs by avoiding expensive repairs, and ensures safety and reliability of equipment.
  • Equipment maintenance is a vital step in securing a company’s return on investment for its assets, and most operations use a combination of corrective, predictive, and preventive maintenance to create a complete program that is optimized for their unique needs.

    Preventive maintenance consists of regular, scheduled maintenance activities that are performed on equipment to reduce the chance of failure and extend uptime. When practiced diligently, preventative maintenance programs allow businesses to take note of any small problems as they arise and address them before they cause costly hitches.

    By using an Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) or Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) a company can also achieve greater efficiency by organizing all critical information in a single location.

    What is Preventive Maintenance?

    Preventive Maintenance Definition

    Preventive Maintenance (PM) is an accessible form of equipment care for many facilities because it requires a great deal of planning but reasonable costs when compared to other methodologies.

    The typical PM workflow uses time-based or usage-based triggers to initiate maintenance work and performance checks. This creates a reliable schedule with regular maintenance that helps minimize the number of equipment failures over time. Using a preventive maintenance checklist for this process is a very helpful tool.

    In order to better understand this work, we’ll take a look at the types of preventive maintenance work, why it is important, and how to implement a basic PM program.

    Why Is Preventive Maintenance Important?

    why preventive maintenance is important

    Key Stat: “In 2020, 76% of companies in the manufacturing industry worldwide prioritized preventive maintenance.” (source)

    When implemented properly, the use of preventive maintenance can have several benefits for an operation. In addition to reducing unplanned maintenance work, it is also possible to extend the useful life of the equipment.

    Since preventive maintenance does not require conditions-based monitoring like predictive maintenance, it can also be a cost-effective way to schedule routine tasks.

    Industries such as trucking and transportation, manufacturing, telecom and cable, and utilities can benefit greatly from preventive maintenance practices as they typically utilize a number of critical assets that are operated continuously.

    The ultimate benefit of preventive maintenance is a reduction in the total cost of maintenance required to keep equipment in good working order.

    Types of Preventive Maintenance Work

    type of preventive maintenance

    Since preventive maintenance uses triggers based on time and usage, proper work planning is key. Managing work orders in a CMMS or EAM will certainly help to organize activities, and it is also necessary to prioritize maintenance tasks.

    Preventive maintenance work activities generally can be broken down into the following three categories:

    1. Mandatory and Non-Mandatory Tasks

    Mandatory work is defined as any tasks that should be finished as soon as they are due for completion. Tasks that receive a mandatory label are often related to critical components or safety procedures. Anything else would be considered non-mandatory and could be completed after a due date if necessary, without any particular risk or concern. Categorizing your tasks as mandatory and non-mandatory can help with prioritization.

    2. Inspection and Task-Oriented Tasks

    Inspections are routine checks of equipment that can be done quickly and help identify any particular issues that should be converted into official maintenance work orders. An inspection can also be used to perform minor maintenance activities to prevent or delay the need for a formal maintenance task. When inspections are performed at optimized intervals, they can help reduce the number of open maintenance tasks.

    3. Pyramiding and Non-Pyramiding Tasks

    Part of the issue with any delayed maintenance task is that it will often overlap with additional tasks that are next on the schedule. When a pyramiding schedule is used, a previous work task would be canceled if it overlaps with the next instance of the same task. A non-pyramiding schedule would keep all instances of the task and continue to track them individually. Each format can be used effectively, and the most important point is to make sure that the team is using only one method.

    Developing Preventive Maintenance Tasks

    A preventive maintenance plan is so much more than just recording repair activities and scheduling maintenance. One of the most valuable aspects of the program is that it facilitates important decisions about your equipment with your most talented personnel.

    To ensure the longevity and optimal performance of your equipment, here is a a comprehensive example of preventive maintenance tasks, organized by frequency, in the table below. This should assist you in maintaining a proactive maintenance schedule that can help prevent unexpected downtime and extend the life of your equipment.

    Daily Visual Inspection, Cleaning, Lubrication, Safety Checks, Monitor Operating Conditions
    Weekly Inspect Belts and Chains, Check Fluid Levels, Test Emergency Stops, Inspect Electrical Connections, Calibrate Instruments
    Monthly Inspect Filters, Examine Hoses and Pipes, Battery Maintenance, Review Maintenance Logs, Test Safety and Alarm Systems
    Quarterly Vibration Analysis, Thermographic Inspection, Audit Energy Usage, Precision Alignment, Update Software/Firmware
    Semi-Annual and Annual Comprehensive Equipment Overhaul, Replace Wear Parts, Update Maintenance Plan, Regulatory Compliance Checks, Training and Drills
    Customizable Tasks Specialized Equipment Checks (as per specific equipment needs)

    After writing out such tasks and organizing them into a schedule, you’ll have a better understanding of the resources and time required to perform maintenance tasks. Based on the parts maintained, you can also clarify the operational criteria that specify the range of performance measures needed to consider the equipment in good working order.

    In addition to the regular preventive work that will be scheduled, these criteria grant you a clear outline for both your staff and any outsource partners, as well.

    Setting up Long-Term Preventive Maintenance Schedules

    Setting up Long-Term Preventive Maintenance Schedules

    Strong preventive maintenance plans always contain clear schedules that outline the responsibilities for daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly tasks. These schedules ensure that the work gets done at the appropriate time without delays or skipping. Once you have all your high priority equipment needs to be determined by task, you can compile the PM schedule for your entire facility. (Here is a good schedule example to consider.)

    To manage the schedules efficiently, there are a number of ways that you can set up your maintenance triggers. The following types are especially suited for preventive styles of maintenance:

    • Time trigger – One of the most frequently used and based on time intervals between maintenance activities. It is best suited for simple tasks and those that utilize parts (such as filters) that may have expiration dates.
    • Usage trigger – Requires maintenance after a specific amount of usage, such as the number of hours in operation. This is best used for equipment with steady or irregular usage that has known usage-based failure rates.
    • Event trigger – Utilizes specific events to trigger maintenance checks, like in the event of a power failure. It is useful for equipment that may be highly impacted by external forces.

    These triggers, along with your maintenance task schedule, give your team something to review regularly. From there, changes can be made as improvements are identified.

    Implementing Preventive Maintenance Practices

    A preventive maintenance program should strike a reasonable balance between proactive activity and efficiency. Having a reliable process is a must, as this gives your team the structure to make regular improvements. Using a PDCA model is one way to implement a PM program:

    • Plan – Develop a good preventive maintenance baseline and track a detailed history for each asset
    • Do – Create consistency among your maintenance team by following the plan
    • Check – Monitor key metrics and make adjustments as needed
    • Act – Whenever you experience an equipment failure, make clear changes to the maintenance plan to address future issues

    With proper planning, it is possible to implement preventive maintenance activities that increase the useful life of your assets. By using a centralized CMMS or EAM platform, it is possible to monitor and track all maintenance work orders and important information in a single location.

    Tagging assets with barcodes (such as asset tags and facilities asset management tags and using integrated scanners can further help automate your workflows and reduce entry errors while performing maintenance work. Preventive maintenance can be an important tool for any business that maintains critical and high-value assets.

    Tracking, Adjustments and Improvements

    Tracking, Adjustments, and Improvements

    Once an operation has a basic preventive maintenance plan in place, there are a number of potential directions to explore to improve maintenance efficiency. Utilizing a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) can help you streamline the record-keeping and reporting of your activities. You could also consider barcoding and/or adding asset tags to further enhance automation and bolster your inventory and parts management processes.

    Regardless of your chosen systems, you can leverage your maintenance program to drive continuous improvement in your operation. You may seek to utilize tools such as Failure Mode and Effect Analysis (FMEA) or Risk Analysis (PHA, HAZOP) to identify improvement points for specific processes. With all of your compiled records and data, you are in a great place to conduct cost analysis studies and find potential cost reduction opportunities in your maintenance budget.

    One of the newest and most interesting developments in the preventive maintenance space has been the rise of predictive maintenance capabilities. This form of maintenance seeks to understand the current condition of the equipment as it utilizes real-time data to determine when a process could fail or even when intervention is recommended, aside from the preventive schedule. It builds upon the fundamentals of preventive maintenance and adds yet another dimension to your facility management plans.

    Preventive maintenance plans are a must for modern operations, particularly those that want to maintain lean operations and minimize overhead costs. Following these steps will help you create a comprehensive preventive maintenance plan that benefits the bottom line.

    Frequently Asked Questions

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