Technician’s hands applying lube to a bearing in line with preventive maintenance best practices.

A preventive maintenance (PM) program is powerful tool that helps organizations monitor equipment performance, prolong asset life, and reduce unplanned downtime. Despite its benefits, many organizations struggle to develop and maintain effective PM plans while balancing other maintenance management responsibilities. This article discusses multiple preventive maintenance best practices that will help you improve your PM program.

This article is part of a series of articles related to maintenance management best practices. Read our other best practice articles:

Preventive Maintenance Best Practices

While PM benefits organizations of all sizes in every industry, the most applicable preventive maintenance best practices should be determined by your organization. The goal of this article is to present multiple preventive maintenance best practices for your organization to consider. The results from implementing best practices will vary and selected maintenance practices may need to be changed, adjusted, or eliminated over time after trial and error.

While this article focuses on preventive maintenance best practices related to planning, scheduling, executing, and tracking, know that other aspects of maintenance management can affect preventive maintenance. For example, poor work order management or MRO inventory management practices make it more difficult to improve preventive maintenance.

Best Practices for Preventive Maintenance Planning and Scheduling

The planning and scheduling of preventive maintenance sets it apart from other types of maintenance, like corrective maintenance (CM). The following best practices focus on optimizing planning and scheduling.

Enter Preventive Maintenance Tasks into CMMS Software

Asset service manuals include comprehensive information about preventive maintenance tasks, including the task name, frequency, required parts, and even time estimates. Having hard copy versions of maintenance documentation is useful, but technicians waste valuable time searching through the maintenance library or tracking down manuals when they cannot be readily found.

Instead, collect PM task information and enter it into a preventive maintenance tracking system, such as computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) software. A CMMS provides technicians with a single place for accessing preventive maintenance information such as a task’s title, frequency, required parts, and estimated completion time.

A CMMS also allows you to upload digitized maintenance documentation, providing quick access to service manuals, schematics, and diagrams. Leveraging this digital maintenance library saves a lot of time during the maintenance process.

Further Reading: Pros and Cons of Different Work Order Management Systems

Prioritize Preventive Maintenance Work

Not all preventive maintenance tasks are created equally. Failing to properly prioritize preventive maintenance work often leads to wasted time, missed critical tasks, and unnecessary downtime. When scheduling preventive maintenance work, consider the following:

  • Is the asset critical to production or operations?
  • How complex is the task?
  • How much time is required to complete the task?
  • Are the required resources (i.e., labor, parts, tools, etc.) available?
  • What is the risk associated with not performing the task?

Preventive maintenance for critical assets must be carefully prioritized with other tasks. However, you should have a system for determining the order in which other tasks are completed.

Visualize the Preventive Maintenance Schedule

Many maintenance organizations use bulletin boards, white boards, and spreadsheets to plan preventive maintenance work. A major drawback of these manual systems is they don’t communicate upcoming work in a meaningful way. That’s why many organizations prefer to use the preventive maintenance scheduling functionality of CMMS software.

Visualizing the preventive maintenance schedule in a calendar view is more effective and easily understood. Using a maintenance calendar, maintenance managers can assess monthly activity level and appropriately assign employees, better balance the work load, and identify opportunities for additional PMs or other tasks.

Schedule Preventive Maintenance Based on Equipment Usage

Owner’s manuals often include generalized time-based maintenance (TbM) schedules. While this approach may be useful in some situations, it does not always reflect actual equipment usage. As a result, seldom-used machines are often over maintained while heavily used equipment doesn’t get the attention it needs.

Usage-based maintenance solves these issues by prioritizing preventive maintenance towards machines that are more heavily used. It also eliminates unnecessary maintenance activities and frees up resources to complete other important maintenance work.

Best Practices for Performing Preventive Maintenance

Another focus of preventive maintenance best practices is improving the quality of maintenance activities. Maintenance teams must ensure that their performance is meeting the standards and expectations of the organization and any regulatory parties.

Standardize Preventive Maintenance Procedures

Inconsistent maintenance work can be counter-productive to improving asset reliability. Standardized PM checklists ensure that preventive maintenance work is performed the same way each and every time, no matter who is doing the work.

PM checklists communicate the exact steps that need to be followed and ensure that critical steps, such as lockout/tagout procedures, are not ignored or forgotten. Later, checklists can be used to audit whether the quality of maintenance meets set standards and hold technicians accountable for performing quality work.

The level of detail in checklists varies by organization. Tasks written clearly and unambiguously leave little room for misinterpretation. Also consider the skill level of your maintenance team. Trusted, veteran technicians may not require the same level of detail as a team made up of mostly novice mechanics.

Automate Reminders

Manually tracking when preventive maintenance tasks are due is nearly impossible for teams that maintain more than a dozen or so assets. CMMS software automatically reminds maintenance teams when preventive maintenance is coming due. This advanced noticed ensures that required maintenance is not missed and gives maintenance managers time to schedule maintenance when equipment is available.

Hold Your Team Accountable

Meeting your preventive maintenance goals requires accountability. When team members are aware of what is expected of them and to what standards their work is held, they are more likely to perform quality maintenance work.

Maintenance managers are responsible for setting expectations and monitoring employee performance. First, they must develop and document the responsibilities of each role within the maintenance team and clearly communicate them. Putting these expectations in writing is important for future reference or tracking when responsibilities change.

For example, PM tasks that include a time estimate hold technicians accountable for completing work in a timely manner. If completion times fall too far outside this estimate, investigate what caused the delay. When tasks are fully defined, assign follow-up responsibilities to an approver who can verify that work has been completed correctly and to defined standards.

Further Reading: Creating a Culture of Accountability with CMMS

Best Practices for Achieving Preventive Maintenance Goals

Preventive maintenance best practices extend into how you define, measure, and maintain success.

Measure Key Performance Indicators and Other Preventive Maintenance Metrics

In order to know whether changes to your maintenance operations are making a difference, you have to know where you are starting and where you want to be. Set specific and measurable goals to keep you and your team accountable for following your preventive maintenance plan. Then, determine and communicate the processes and procedures needed to reach those goals.

What metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) you track is up to your organization’s leadership. Our article How to Measure Preventive Maintenance Effectiveness discusses common preventive maintenance KPIs and how to use them.

Provide Ongoing Training Opportunities

Preventive maintenance success requires a skilled and experienced maintenance workforce. Ongoing training results in more well-rounded labor resources that can perform a wider range of tasks. What this leads to is more productivity, flexibility in scheduling labor, and accuracy of maintenance work.

Improve Your Preventive Maintenance Program with FTMaintenance Select

Preventive maintenance is the core of an effective maintenance program. Given its importance to asset reliability, organizations are constantly looking for ways to improve their PM processes. FTMaintenance Select provides a centralized platform for developing, managing, and tracking your preventive maintenance plan. Request a demo to learn more.

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