What is Preventive Maintenance?

Preventive Maintenance Definition

In the same way you would not wait until your car’s engine fails to get the oil changed, machines, equipment, buildings and anything of value to your organization need consistent maintenance to avoid breakdowns and costly disruptions.

This work is called Planned or Preventive Maintenance (PM). Preventive Maintenance is performed while the equipment is operating normally to avoid the consequences of unexpected breakdowns, such as increased costs, downtime and more.

Preventive Maintenance vs. Reactive Maintenance

Though many are moving away from a reliance on run-to-failure or reactive maintenance modes, a majority of organizations still use this method today. Reactive maintenance involves repairing equipment after it has broken down to bring it back to normal operation.

On the surface it may seem less expensive to operate reactively, but planned maintenance can be much less costly, with studies observing that reactive maintenance can cost 5-8 times more than Preventive (PM) or Predictive Maintenance (PdM).

There are a variety of other costs associated with unplanned outages, such as lost production, overtime, idle equipment, expedited shipments and other “hidden” costs. Some of the “hidden” costs of reactive maintenance include:

  • Safety issues
  • Uncontrollable and unpredictable budget costs
  • Shorter life expectancy for equipment
  • Greater chance of inspection failure
  • Increased downtime for equipment and employees
  • Repeat issues and breakdowns

When Preventive Maintenance is scheduled, these costs can be avoided and all parts and maintenance resources can be scheduled and accounted for to streamline the process.

When Preventive Maintenance Doesn’t Make Sense

World class maintenance dictates that 90% of maintenance should be planned, with an 80% planned to 20% unplanned ratio considered still beneficial compared to the typical average of 55% or less. But in some instances, it makes more sense to leverage reactive maintenance.

Both methods have a place in your maintenance plan. In some cases, it makes more sense to depend on reactive maintenance rather than following a strict preventive maintenance program. For example: changing a lightbulb is cheap, easy to perform and will cause no disruption to business processes.

To determine which maintenance strategy to apply, consider these questions:

  • Is the asset critical to business operations?
  • Does it contribute to the safety of your product/customers/staff/etc.?
  • Is business disrupted significantly if the asset unexpectedly goes down?
  • Is it costly to have the asset repaired or replaced?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, it is important to begin developing a Preventive Maintenance schedule on that asset, as it will benefit you in the long run.

Tips To Begin Developing a Preventive Maintenance (PM) Schedule

1) Establish Equipment List and Determine Best PM Candidates – To get started, take note of all of the equipment throughout your organization to establish inventory. Within this list, you will ask yourself the above questions to help decide which pieces of equipment you will include in your future Preventive Maintenance plan.

2) Refer To Manufacturer Recommendations – Take a look through manufacturer recommendations to establish an effective Preventive Maintenance schedule, and to help figure out the necessary tasks and desired frequency of maintenance. Referring back to the original example, this could be getting an oil change for your car every 10,000 miles, or as recommended by your owner’s manual.

3) Start With Your Heavy Hitters – To effectively leverage a Preventive Maintenance schedule, it is important to begin with your most critical pieces of equipment one step at a time. Once you get started with those critical assets, create long term plans such as annual schedules.

4) Fill In Short Term Plans – With long term plans established, you can begin creating weekly plans for your crew. These tasks should be assigned and scheduled ahead of time, with all parts and maintenance resources accounted for.

Another tool that will offer extra advantages in the long and short term to support and improve Preventive Maintenance is a Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS).

Preventive Maintenance Tools in CMMS

Computerized Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS) are designed to help schedule, plan, manage, and track maintenance activities. The features within a CMMS such as PM Task Generation, PM Scheduling and Inspections work together to offer continuous improvement and support for an organization’s Preventive Maintenance program.

1) PM Task Generation – Within a CMMS system such as eMaint, users can leverage a PM calendar and/or meter based PM tasks for all assets, and include detailed descriptions with how-to’s, guidelines and other information vital to effectively performing the work.

2) PM Task Schedules – Developing an effective preventive maintenance program requires more than generating PM tasks, and CMMS systems have the tools to make important improvements. PM Schedules empower users to coordinate labor resources and parts needed to complete work, as well as automatically generate PM tasks based on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, or based on usage.

3) PM Inspections – A CMMS solution can also help organizations keep up with inspections and pass compliance audits with ease. With CMMS, users can record inspections accurately and generate corrective work orders when equipment fails inspections. Keep pace, auto trigger corrective, getting away from spreadsheets.

With Preventive Maintenance scheduling software like eMaint CMMS, organizations have experienced benefits such as:

  • Extended asset life and increased equipment uptime
  • Decreased manual data entry
  • Less paperwork with mobile and barcoding capability
  • Consistent maintenance tasks and procedures
  • Increased productivity and efficiency
  • Improved audit compliance with extensive documentation

Learn more about how eMaint’s Preventive Maintenance software benefits your organization’s move toward a more reliable maintenance strategy by attending a free CMMS demo.

Completed Part One? Read on to check out how to "How to Design A Preventive Maintenance Program."

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