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What is Preventive Maintenance?

What is Preventive Maintenance?

Whether you’re working as a facility manager or maintenance manager, one of the most important tasks is to keep your assets maintained, consistent, and fully-functioning. Many experts offer an easy solution – preventive maintenance, and it’s usually followed up with the question, what is preventive maintenance?

A reactive approach to maintenance, in general, always leads to more downtime, repairs, and other problems.

Alternatively, a proactive approach to maintenance ensures minimal asset failure, keeps operations running, and reduces manual input. To learn more via video or audio, then click play below. Otherwise, skip ahead.


In this article, we’ll go over proactive maintenance in the shape of preventive maintenance and how you can apply it to your organization.

What is Preventive Maintenance?

Preventive maintenance, otherwise known as preventative maintenance, is a proactive maintenance management technique that helps avoid asset and equipment failure by predicting issues while keeping up a healthy maintenance schedule.

In a 2019 maintenance study by Plant Engineering, 79% of all manufacturing facilities have a preventive maintenance strategy to streamline operations.

Preventive maintenance can be considered a mix of proactive maintenance and predictive maintenance. It’s used to develop maintenance schedules and regular checkups, but it’s also used to predict any potential faults, issues, and rundowns when it comes to equipment and assets.

The predictive part helps get ready for any future issues and lets you plan ahead. You can use it to develop effective work orders, develop complete preventive maintenance schedules, lower maintenance costs in the long run, and simplify maintenance planning for your maintenance team.

As opposed to reactive maintenance (run-to-failure), preventive maintenance programs let you plan for each failure to minimize drag and unplanned downtime. It may save and even extend the life of critical assets and critical equipment while also reducing equipment breakdown occurrences.

However, preventive maintenance plans and programs can vary for different industries and types of assets. Each industry and business has different kinds of assets and equipment, and for effective preventive maintenance, they require customized preventive maintenance programs.

In any case, preventive maintenance will always have three major components, including the following:

  • Preventive maintenance will always be systematic.
  • It would be performed routinely and regularly.
  • The end goal would always be to reduce, minimize, or even eliminate failures altogether.

Other important aspects of PM programs include condition monitoring, facility management, preventive maintenance checklists, CMMS software, and more.

Types of Preventive Maintenance

Primarily, there are two types of preventive maintenance – time-based preventive maintenance and usage-based preventive maintenance.

  • Time-Based Preventive Maintenance – Otherwise known as calendar-based preventive maintenance, time-based preventive maintenance has to do with regularity and schedules. A simple example of this would be scheduling and setting up regular inspections for a critical asset or a key piece of equipment that would cause major unscheduled downtime in the case of a breakdown. For organizations, regular HVAC unit maintenance for continuous air conditioning is a great example of time-based preventive maintenance. This kind of preventive maintenance can be easily managed using computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS software).
  • Usage-Based Preventive Maintenance – In usage-based preventive maintenance, you set up preventive maintenance tasks based on tangible triggers, such as the number of hours worked, a certain amount of miles, number of production cycles, and more. For example, getting oil changes for your vehicle every 3,000 miles is a great example of usage-based preventive maintenance.
  • Predictive Maintenance – Predictive maintenance is a form of preventive maintenance that is possible with the use of CMMS software. When you log work order data into your CMMS for long enough, maintenance personnel can notice breakdown patterns and manufacturer recommendations to avoid it.
  • Prescriptive Maintenance – Prescriptive maintenance is the next step in predictive maintenance as it uses the power of AI and machine learning to better schedule preventive maintenance tasks. AI can detect asset failure, equipment downtime, and other issues beforehand and provide corrective maintenance measures.

Most organizations today prefer using a mix of time-based and prescriptive maintenance with the help of CMMS software.

Steps for Setting Up Your Preventive Maintenance Program

After you have decided on a type of preventive maintenance, you have to understand how you can set up a preventive maintenance program in your organization.

The point of a well-planned preventive maintenance program is to avoid inconsistencies. You may do regular equipment checks, but every once in a while, something is bound to be overlooked. Over a long period of time, such mishaps can lead to major issues and problems and may end up being time-consuming maintenance disasters.

It’s much easier and convenient to develop a successful preventive maintenance program using CMMS software or dedicated preventive maintenance software.

You have to follow a few steps for creating an effective preventive maintenance program.

1.     Develop a Preventive Maintenance Plan

The first order of business would always be to establish a complete preventive maintenance plan, starting with figuring out who needs to be involved in the PM project. The team members would include maintenance technicians, maintenance managers, facility managers, and people from the finance and accounting departments for budgeting.

After that, the maintenance team would have to determine the goals of the project, including short-term and long-term goals. Goals can be as simple as reducing asset failure and increasing cost savings or increase equipment performance by improving operating conditions using regular maintenance.

2.     Create an Inventory of Facility Equipment and Assets

For effective asset management and equipment maintenance, you need a complete list of all assets and equipment on-site. It’s one of the most time-consuming parts of preventive maintenance, albeit the most important.

Furthermore, it’s a great way to check if all your equipment and assets are logged in and get checked routinely. It’s also crucial to developing further preventive maintenance tasks and maintenance activities.

The task is very time-consuming because you have to note down each asset individually. That means you have to note the make, model, specifications, serial numbers, locations, asset identification numbers, and more.

Another part of this step is to note down the current condition of the asset or equipment and log in the last maintenance order. Once you make the first work order entry in your CMMS software, all future entries are automatically logged in along with your preventive maintenance program.

At that point, you can also access any asset information, inventory data, or maintenance schedules in real-time. This is especially useful when ordering spare parts, in routine maintenance, and facility management.

3.     Develop Preventive Maintenance Procedures According to Your Organization

Once you have developed an inventory of all your equipment and assets, you have to determine each asset’s maintenance operations and tasks. In addition to the tasks, you also have to determine the frequency of the tasks, such as weekly, monthly, annually, and more.

At this point, you may also have to decide on a type of preventive maintenance. In any case, it’s important to note how time-consuming and cost-effective each task will be.

You develop preventive maintenance procedures based on previous maintenance orders and standards. Utilizing past maintenance work is a great way to ensure continuity of procedure.

To create an effective preventive maintenance checklist, you have to list down all the tools and resources needed to complete each PM procedure. Therefore, developing your preventive maintenance procedures includes creating parts lists, safety procedures, estimate time scales, and standard operating procedures.

4.     Develop Your Preventive Maintenance Schedules

Preventive maintenance scheduling is an integral part of your maintenance strategy and requires various resources, including time, money, and staff.

Scheduling involves prioritizing assets and maintenance tasks; the highest priority is given to assets that need to be in running condition for smooth operations, while low priority is given to assets that help in making organizational processes more efficient but don’t necessarily cause downtime if they break down.

After prioritization, the next step is to determine the schedules. For example, equipment that requires longer intervals in maintenance generally requires more resources and time for maintenance. Depending on the lifecycle of an asset and its maintenance intervals, preventive maintenance schedules are developed.

To effectively set up a preventive maintenance schedule, follow these steps.

  1. Start to determine the company assets that would most benefit from a preventive maintenance schedule. This typically varies from industry to industry and requires thorough analysis.
  2. In the case of bigger assets, you can use architectural drawings and plan to locate various assets. Your CMMS software may have the capability of integrating architectural drawings. Knowing the location of individual assets critical to the function of larger equipment can be important in maintaining your facilities.
  3. Combine and gather your maintenance and operating manuals, including the serial codes. O&M manuals help maintenance technicians service each asset and equipment better and assist in all forms of maintenance work.
  4. Review the repair histories of your assets and equipment because no two operations can be identical. To develop the ideal preventive maintenance schedule, you need to use O&M manuals and repair histories.

Developing a great preventive maintenance schedule would help avoid the worst equipment failures.

5.     Create and Train Your Maintenance Team

While developing an excellent preventive maintenance schedule ensures minimal equipment failure, there is no point if you don’t have a trained maintenance team to carry it out.

Proper implementation of preventive maintenance programs and your CMMS software is contingent on your maintenance team’s expertise.

Your organization has to train the maintenance staff individually, even if they’re experienced in doing so. No amount of training, in this case, will be too much; you should always scale up on training and development.

6.     Analyze, Adapt, and Keep on Improving

Developing the ideal preventive maintenance program for your organization can’t be done in one go, no matter how much research and resources you utilize. It’s a process of trial and error, and repetition helps perfect the process.

You should analyze the results of your preventive maintenance program, including each asset’s overall performance. It will help identify areas of improvement, and you can see where you can reallocate your resources better.

You can take the help of a consultant, a CMMS expert, to be exact. They can help you in analyzing your preventive maintenance program, help you adapt it better, and note down areas of improvement and implementation.

You will most likely see the positive results and benefits of a preventive maintenance program on the first go, and when you keep on improving upon it, you’ll see increasing returns on your investment.

During this process, your CMMS software will help you monitor each asset and piece of equipment, so you can develop better scheduling tasks to save time and resources.

Benefits of Preventive Maintenance

You can see the benefits of preventive maintenance with your first preventive maintenance program. On the outside, the primary benefits of preventive maintenance are reduced asset failure, increased asset longevity, and improved overall productivity.

However, there are plenty of other CMMS benefits and improvements that come from preventive maintenance. Here are a few of the major benefits of preventive maintenance.

  • Reduction in asset and equipment failure.
  • Extended asset life, increased equipment uptime, and overall manufacturing longevity.
  • Prevention of future issues by predicting potential problems.
  • Increased productivity of assets as they remain in great condition. That also results in increased efficiency.
  • Improved safety for the organization and staff because the more often your equipment is maintained, the less likely any dangerous or unforeseen problems occur.
  • You will definitely be seeing reduced costs, especially in the long run. The primary reason for this is that reactive maintenance tends to be costly because it involves more repairs, spare parts, and, at times, external consultation. Preventive maintenance, on the other hand, is a steady, continuous expense, but it saves you from larger immediate expenses.
  • If you have a lot of electrical assets, there’s a good chance they consume more energy if they’re not maintained. Proper maintenance ensures they work under normal conditions and consume less energy, resulting in smaller utility bills and overhead costs.
  • The automation of maintenance diminishes the need for paperwork and manual data entry. If you’re using a CMMS, all preventive maintenance tasks are automatically logged and recorded.
  • Preventive maintenance also helps in improved audit compliance as you can develop maintenance procedures to adhere to compliance standards.
  • Reduced asset depreciation ensures your equipment stays of value; if you need to sell any asset, you can do so at a reasonable price.

Using preventive maintenance software further benefits your maintenance efforts.

Choosing the Best Preventive Maintenance Software Solution

The best way to go about preventive maintenance is to use a complete preventive maintenance software. It organizes all the data and maintenance operations in one place and lets you manage your assets and equipment effectively. On top of that, it helps predict equipment failure and other issues so you can prepare in advance, all while making maintenance management easier for the staff.

Capterra provides a summary of the most preventive maintenance software you can find in the market here.

To choose the ideal PM software for your organization, you first need to figure out what features you need, such as a work order system, vendor management, asset tracking, inventory control, maintenance report form, and scheduling, among other things.

Secondly, you should determine how user-friendly the PM software is and whether your team can easily adjust to it. Also, make sure it has an adequate customer support and can help streamline your onboarding process.

Lastly, check if the PM software offers chat functionality to maintain communications and a cost analysis option to help with budgeting preventive maintenance operations.

When you’ve managed to figure it all out for your organization, you can opt for the right preventive maintenance software that offers you the best metrics, maximum equipment life, better workflow, and ideal preventive maintenance work.

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