Two middle-aged maintenance technicians perform preventive maintenance on a construction vehicle as part of a preventive maintenance plan.

Key Takeaways

  • A documented preventive maintenance program helps optimize maintenance resources, lower maintenance costs, and avoid costly repairs
  • It is not necessary to create an entire “master plan” before implementing preventive maintenance practices
  • Adapt the process in this article to fit your organization’s requirements
  • Preventive maintenance software, like FTMaintenance, allows you to document your preventive maintenance program and communicate to others

Most organizations recognize the importance and benefits of preventive maintenance, but many are stuck in a corrective maintenance rut. Though maintenance managers may like the idea of preventive maintenance, frequent emergency repairs often leave little-to-no time, money, or labor resources available for preventive maintenance activities.

Even when such resources are available, maintenance managers often become frustrated because they do not know where to start with preventive maintenance. In this article, we discuss the basic steps in developing a preventive maintenance program for organizations just getting their feet wet with preventive maintenance.

What is a Preventive Maintenance Program?

Preventive maintenance (PM) is maintenance that is proactively performed on assets in working condition with the goal of lessening the likelihood of failure, reducing unexpected downtime, and prolonging its useful life. A preventive maintenance program or preventive maintenance plan outlines the processes, procedures, tools, and resources required to carry out preventive maintenance.

Why Create a Preventive Maintenance Plan?

Poor preventive maintenance practices negatively impact the organization. Small PM tasks that are missed, skipped, or ignored often result in unexpected downtime and larger, more costly repairs. Performing low-quality preventive maintenance is just as harmful. On the other hand, over-maintaining equipment that doesn’t need it also leads to unnecessary planned downtime, labor costs, and replacement part usage.

A documented preventive maintenance program solves many of these issues. Mainly, the PM plan holds the maintenance team accountable for performing preventive maintenance activities. It ensures that everyone understands how preventive maintenance will be conducted by outlining the work to be done, how it is to be done, who will do it, and when. As the plan is optimized to use maintenance resources more effectively, it frees up money and personnel for other cost-saving improvements.

Read more about the benefits of preventive maintenance

What Does Preventive Maintenance Look Like?

Preventive maintenance takes many forms. Examples of preventive maintenance activities include:

  • Inspections that use an employee’s basic senses (i.e., sight, sound, touch), sometimes with the aid of special instruments, to detect problems.
  • Adjustments and Calibrations that optimize or correct asset performance.
  • Testing that verifies whether assets are running to specification.
  • Replacements of disposable components.

How to Create a Preventive Maintenance Plan

The thought of creating a preventive maintenance plan can be daunting. Many maintenance managers believe that they must develop an entire “master plan” before implementing preventive maintenance at all. However, this is not the case. In a moment, you will see just how easy creating a preventive maintenance plan can be.

The following steps outline the general process for creating a preventive maintenance plan. We recognize that each organization has unique goals for their PM program. The process described here serves as a starting point for developing a preventive maintenance plan, and can be adapted to fit an organization’s requirements.

Step 1: Refer to or Create an Asset List

An effective preventive maintenance plan starts with a good idea of what needs to be maintained. As a first step, create a list of all assets for which you are responsible if one doesn’t already exist. Capture key details about each asset such as:

  • Manufacturer
  • Name
  • Internal asset code
  • Description
  • Location
  • Make and/or model
  • Serial number
  • Acquisition date
  • Current usage or age
  • Current condition
  • Original cost
  • Criticality
  • Last maintenance event
  • Next maintenance event
  • Other details as necessary

The asset list creates a point of reference for any preventive maintenance work completed on the asset, and should be updated throughout the asset’s life. Some organizations use spreadsheets to build the asset database, while others use specialized asset management software, like a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS).

Step 2: Identify Which Assets to Include in the Preventive Maintenance Program

Two young male technicians looking at asset data on a tablet near some piping to help identify whether the asset is critical and should be included in the organization’s preventive maintenance program.

With a full list of assets available, you must decide which ones are the best candidates for preventive maintenance. Not every asset benefits from preventive maintenance though – sometimes PM costs outweigh the cost to replace the asset. The PM program typically includes an organization’s critical assets, which can be identified in a few ways.

In most organizations, critical assets are well-known. Larger organizations with rigorous asset management practices identify critical assets through formal cost-benefit analyses, criticality analyses, or return-on-investment (ROI) calculations. Others use asset data stored in a CMMS or other system to identify assets with high downtime, high maintenance costs, or frequent repairs that would benefit most from preventive maintenance.

A less formal way of determining which assets to include in the PM program is to consider each asset and ask questions like:

  • How important is this asset to production or to the success of the organization?
  • How often is maintenance performed on this asset?
  • Is this asset performing to specification?
  • How much does it cost to repair this asset versus replace it?

The answers to these questions should make it clear whether preventive maintenance is required.

If you are starting to worry that you won’t have time to create a PM plan for each critical asset, relax. You don’t have to create a PM plan for every asset right from the get-go. Start with a subset of assets, like the one or two most critical assets from the list. Easing into a preventive maintenance program in this way gives you and your team time to adjust to a proactive mindset. You can always expand the program later.

Step 3: Identify Preventive Maintenance Tasks

Young male HVAC technician performs preventive maintenance on a rooftop air handling unit as part of the organization’s PM program.

Once you select the initial assets, you must define what preventive maintenance needs to be done to them. Knowing the scope of work to be done helps with scheduling and resource allocation. There are multiple sources of information from which to draw preventive maintenance information:

Be sure to determine the parts and materials, tools, skill level required, and best practices associated with each task. Safety considerations, such as lockout/tagout procedures, should also be included. A clear idea of the required resources helps you determine time estimates for each task.

Step 4: Determine Maintenance Frequency

With preventive maintenance, each asset needs to be serviced regularly. PM tasks follow time-based or usage-based intervals. Time-based PM tasks may occur daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, or annually. Usage-based frequencies can be based on runtime hours, mileage, units produced, or other runtime measurements. Refer to the resources mentioned in the previous step for information regarding a task’s frequency.

Step 5: Create the Preventive Maintenance Schedule

Now that you know what assets need to be maintained, how to maintain them, and how often they should be maintained, you can create a schedule. While you can use any system you like, it’s best to enter PM program data into a maintenance planning tool like a CMMS.

A CMMS makes it easy to enter task information, including frequencies and time estimates. Then, you can create PM work orders that include details such as the assets and parts, appropriate labor resources, priority, and due date. One major benefit of using a CMMS is the ability for the system to automatically alert the maintenance team when preventive maintenance is needed on a machine, reducing the chances of work being missed, lost, or ignored.

Step 6: Train Your Maintenance Team

A well-designed plan and maintenance management system alone cannot make your preventive maintenance program a success. The “real” work is done by frontline technicians, who must know how to execute the plan. Train technicians on how to perform tasks, as well as how to use the tools, instruments, and technology needed to capture and document information.

In addition, create policies around what to do when a PM task reveals an issue. For example, should technicians contact a supervisor, submit a service request, or create a corrective maintenance work order? Do workers have the freedom to resolve small issues as part of an inspection? Also consider a policy for what to do if a PM task isn’t completed.

Step 7: Monitor and Adjust

Your preventive maintenance plan will not be perfect the first time. That is why it is crucial that your team logs their maintenance activities and asset performance in a CMMS. Use this data to track preventive maintenance key performance indicators (KPIs) and generate maintenance reports that will help you optimize your plan.

An effective preventive maintenance program brings visibility to assets that require more attention and leads to scheduling changes. Don’t panic if, at first, maintenance costs go up. Preventive maintenance activities are likely to reveal hidden issues, especially on assets that have been neglected. Also, you may pay more now to avoid larger, more costly unplanned maintenance events in the future.

Also Read: 12 Tips for Improving Your Preventive Maintenance Plan

Step 8: Expand the Preventive Maintenance Program to Include More Assets

After preventive maintenance is off and running with your first set of assets, expand the program. Repeat the steps provided for each new asset until you cover all assets that will benefit from preventive maintenance.

Final Thoughts about Preventive Maintenance Programs

Creating a preventive maintenance program doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time, money, effort, and in some cases, a change in maintenance culture to transition from a reactive to a proactive mindset. However, once in place, the advantages of a CMMS-supported preventive maintenance program are well worth it.

CMMS software provides many benefits for preventive maintenance activities. The system allows you to create and maintain a list of your assets and related information, making it easy to identify critical assets. PM task functionality allows you to define the steps that make up a preventive maintenance procedure, including how often the task should be completed, how long the task takes, and who should perform it. Automatic work order generation and notification ensures that employees are aware of upcoming preventive maintenance work.

Read also: How to Implement a Proactive Maintenance Strategy

Create Your Preventive Maintenance Program with FTMaintenance

FTMaintenance is preventive maintenance software that provides all the functionality needed to build a robust, automated preventive maintenance program. It provides a single platform for tracking asset and MRO inventory data, generating PM task lists, and creating preventive maintenance work orders. FasTrak also offers consulting services that help organizations identify the best way to get a preventive maintenance program up and running. Request a demo today.

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