What is Preventive Maintenance?

Preventive maintenance (PM) is a simple and popular maintenance strategy. Preventive maintenance can help extend asset life, increase productivity, and ultimately decrease maintenance spending.

You wouldn’t wait until your car’s engine fails to get the oil changed. So, you already know the value of preventive maintenance. Simply put, maintenance performed on a regular basis to reduce the likelihood of failure is preventive maintenance.

Also called planned or preventative maintenance, PM is conducted throughout an asset’s normal operating conditions. This helps avoid unexpected breakdowns and their pricey consequences, such as unplanned downtime.

Preventive maintenance is not based on a machine’s condition. Instead, it is based on recommendations from the asset manufacturer or on the average life cycle of an asset. Basing maintenance on a calendar means that some maintenance tasks are done when they aren’t strictly needed. It also means that teams can ensure that they have the budget, inventory, and scheduling to perform the tasks.

Preventive maintenance software, including a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS), can simplify preventive maintenance even more through features such as auto-scheduled work orders. Streamlining maintenance practices reduces emergency, reactive work and increases worker safety and efficiency.

Performed consistently, preventive maintenance can help your organization avoid expensive downtime and disruptions.

Types of Preventive Maintenance and Preventive Maintenance Examples

  • Calendar- or Time-based preventive maintenance
    These types of preventive maintenance are completed at regular or scheduled intervals with help from preventive maintenance software. While all critical equipment should have PM, regularly checking equipment critical to production will help decrease breakdowns.
    A motor-pool may have required fleet maintenance every 4 months. This is a great example of preventive maintenance.
  • Usage-based preventive maintenance
    Another type of preventive maintenance example is called usage-based, where a machine’s statistics are used to determine corrective actions. Usage statistics can include cycle counts, runtime, miles/kilometers traveled, or hours, among others.
    For example, one kind of PM could be where an industrial maintenance technician checks machine usage statistics. Then, depending on measurements and usage readings gathered in rounds, maintenance may be scheduled.

Preventive Maintenance Software

Preventive maintenance software, such as eMaint’s CMMS, is a key tool to moving away from reactive maintenance and daily disruptions. With the right program, maintenance teams can reduce costs and increase uptime. Preventive maintenance software allows maintenance teams to set calendar- and/or meter-based PM tasks for every asset. Within the preventive maintenance task record, users add a detailed description that can include important information like task procedures and guidelines.

Preventive maintenance software also reduces data entry by eliminating the need to create new tasks for every PM schedule. The preventive maintenance software simply associates a PM task with multiple PM schedules.

It also lets users maintain consistency in their processes. Preventive maintenance software enables teams to create a sequence of procedures for every preventive maintenance task. That way, technicians have a step-by-step guide to completing their work.

Preventive Maintenance Benefits

The benefits of preventive maintenance programs are numerous. An effective PM program helps organizations reduce costs while improving their processes and operations. Some of the specific, quantifiable preventive maintenance benefits include:

Preventive maintenance planning process

Preventive Maintenance Benefits

The benefits of preventive maintenance programs are numerous.. An effective PM program helps organizations reduce costs while improving their processes and operations. Some of the specific, quantifiable preventive maintenance benefits include:

Pros of preventive maintenance

  • Increased safety
  • Longer equipment lifecycles
  • Decreased unplanned downtime

Cons of preventive maintenance

  • Requires time investment for planning
  • Frequency of planned maintenance may need fine-tuning
  • Learning curve for workflow changes
Real-world client success graph

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Extended asset life and increased equipment uptime

  • Enhanced productivity and efficiency
  • Diminished paperwork and manual data entry
  • Stronger work execution
  • Reduced unexpected breakdowns
  • Improved audit compliance

Preventive maintenance is the simplest and most straightforward maintenance strategy to implement. It requires following manufacturer recommendations and establishing a standard maintenance schedule for critical assets and equipment. A PM program helps maintenance teams boost their planning and efficiency while reducing unplanned breakdowns and lost production. Switching to preventive maintenance can be done one step at a time, starting with the most critical assets.

Key parts to preventive maintenance

Your Guide to  Preventive Maintenance

What is preventive maintenance or Preventative Maintenance?

Preventative maintenance is a kind of proactive maintenance strategy. The purpose of preventative maintenance is to ensure optimal equipment health is achieved for longer durations.

Why is Preventative Maintenance important?

Preventive maintenance allows teams to plan actions prior to equipment breakdowns. An efficient PM schedule manages downtime so that it won’t impact production. Planning preventive maintenance also includes planning resources, such as needed supplies or parts.

Will Preventive Maintenance Eliminate all Breakdowns?

While PM will not eliminate all breakdowns, it will substantially reduce unplanned downtime and breakdowns. By planning preventive maintenance before a breakdown can occur, teams can avoid many kinds of breakdowns.

Whats the Difference Between Preventive and Reactive Maintenance?

Reactive maintenance is not proactive. Reactive maintenance only happens after a breakdown occurs. Instead, preventive maintenance is a strategy of completing maintenance at such an interval to avoid breakdowns altogether.

Whats the Difference Between Preventive Maintenance and Predictive Maintenance?

Preventive maintenance is a good way to move from reactive to predictive maintenance. Predictive strategies (PdM) use condition monitoring tools and data analysis to determine the right time for maintenance. A proper preventive maintenance strategy can lead to predictive maintenance programs.


  • Downtime has already occurred.

  • Less planning, less manpower; more resources, more downtime.

  • Not for production-critical assets/equipment.

  • High impact of downtime on profit margin.

  • Less safe for workers.


  • Before equipment failure has occurred.

  • Planning works best combined with a CMMS solution.

  • Elongate asset lifespan.

  • Increased productivity, production, & profits.

  • Much safer for workers.


  • Maintenance performed at the right time, not before/after.

  • Fewer spare parts used, as they’re only replaced when needed.

  • Doesn’t tie maintenance to calendar or usage, but wear and tear.

  • Prepares maintenance for IIoT / Industry 4.0 technology.

  • Turns maintenance into a business value driver.

Examples of Preventive Maintenance Programs

Often, preventive maintenance is just one strategy practiced by a maintenance team. Some of the best maintenance programs take a proactive approach, where 60% or more of all maintenance activity is preventive. This decreases fire drills and disruptions to a less-than daily occurrence. A world-class maintenance program reflects an organization’s goals, and works toward them through planning, implementation, and evaluation. This strategy helps organizations improve quality and output, increase equipment uptime and Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE), reduce costs, and more.

What is a PM Schedule?

A preventive maintenance schedule is a plan to do maintenance after a specific duration, such as time or usage.

As a preventive maintenance example, consider a vehicle’s user manual that has a schedule for maintenance, such as oil changes every 3 months or 3,000 miles. The manual has both a time-based PM (3 months) and a usage-based (3,000 miles) PM schedule. For maintenance teams, this would be done at an equipment level for production-critical assets.

The focus of maintenance shifts from reacting to problems to continuous improvement through performance analysis and other methods. Preventive maintenance — and preventive maintenance software — enables this through providing planning, scheduling, coordination, and reliability.

Some preventive maintenance examples with real-world client successes include:

  • Reducing downtime 85% in six months
  • Maintaining a 99.8% uptime rate
  • Achieving a 100% compliance on SLAs

Designing and launching a preventive maintenance program requires time and effort. You’ll have to develop procedures, schedule training, and communicate with your team. According to Life Cycle Engineering, every hour of effective planning saves three hours in labor time, or an equivalent savings in materials and production downtime.

How to Create a Preventive Maintenance Plan

eMaint has developed six steps to create an effective, world-class preventive maintenance program.

  1. Identify the end goal
  2. Complete an asset criticality assessment
  3. Establish job and labor resources
  4. Start with the BIG picture: long-term scheduling
  5. Drill down: short-term scheduling
  6. Offer training to employees and clearly communicate goals

Start with the end in mind: What does your company want to accomplish? Define your procedures clearly to align with organizational goals.

For example, many manufacturing organizations focus on improving work efficiency. This goal helps guide your processes to reap benefits. With the right preventive maintenance plan, you could reduce equipment downtime, improve work completion rates, and maximize production time available per machine.

How to Implement a Preventive Maintenance Program

One of the best ways to implement a successful preventive maintenance programs is to start small with a pilot program. Choose a few select pieces of equipment that are critical to operations and plan out your upcoming preventive maintenance schedule.

With data from the preventive maintenance software used in your pilot program, you’ll be able to sell the concept to leadership with data. You’ll have your own real-world examples of preventive maintenance success. And, hopefully, the proof will push them to expand the PM program within your organization.

Achieve Your Short- and Long-term Maintenance Goals

Over time, a preventive maintenance program helps organizations achieve both short-term and long-term maintenance goals and achieve quantifiable results. These include:

  • Reducing manual data entry
  • Minimizing paperwork with mobile maintenance capability
  • Increasing productivity and efficiency
  • Improving audit compliance with extensive documentation

Learn more about the benefits of predictive maintenance

Explore related articles

Reactive Maintenance – https://www.emaint.com/need-help-transitioning-from-reactive-to-preventive-maintenance/

Total Productive Maintenance – https://www.emaint.com/how-a-cmms-can-enable-tpm-total-productive-maintenance/

Key Performance Indicators of Maintenance – https://www.emaint.com/works/cmms-kpi/

Reliability strategies & journey – https://www.emaint.com/accelerating-the-reliability-journey-republication/