What is Preventive Maintenance?

As the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is better than cure. This could be described as the mantra of Preventive Maintenance (PM), a method of maintenance involving regular servicing of machinery and other assets to keep them in good working order. If the day-to-day operations of your small business depend on machinery, you know how disruptive it can be when equipment breaks down or doesn’t work as it should.

This guide will walk you through basic preventive maintenance questions as well as what is typically involved in creating a preventive maintenance program. We’ll also discuss the types of businesses that would benefit the most from this maintenance method, as well as some challenges you should keep in mind.

What is preventive maintenance?

Preventive maintenance is the set of practices followed by companies to keep equipment in good working order. We can also talk about preventive maintenance or proactive maintenance. The term also describes an application of Computerized Maintenance Management Software Systems (CMMS), as shown in the video below.

Preventive maintenance programs help companies manage preventive maintenance of their assets, as opposed to corrective maintenance or reactive maintenance, where tasks are only performed when needed or when equipment has already failed. breakdown.

According to Gartner, preventive maintenance can be time-based, in which recurring maintenance tasks are scheduled based on the time of their last occurrence, or usage-based, in which tasks are scheduled based on data. equipment usage such as hours, miles, or throughput (full content available to Gartner customers). Usage-based preventive maintenance can also be described as predictive maintenance, which relies on the use of condition monitoring sensors to anticipate and prevent equipment failures.

As the name suggests, preventive maintenance depends on planning and scheduling maintenance before something goes wrong. This requires meticulous record keeping of previous maintenance and inspections as well as a thorough knowledge of each part of your machinery, when it was installed and the expected life of each part so that you know when the to replace. Preventative maintenance software, such as the example below, can track all of this information to facilitate these processes.


Inventory management functionality of MaintainX, a web-based CMMS tool (Source)

Why is preventive maintenance so important?

Preventive maintenance is important because it allows more efficient management of installations. It is widely considered preferable and more profitable as corrective or reactive maintenance. When you forego routine maintenance in favor of servicing equipment as needed, there are more variables beyond your control, such as the cost of repairs and the length of downtime.

Other benefits of preventive maintenance include:

  • A safer working environment for your employees

  • Increased productivity

  • More reliable equipment

  • Fewer interruptions to daily operations

What does it take to set up a preventive maintenance program?

In addition to meticulous record keeping, preventive maintenance also requires very careful planning. the next tips will help prepare your business for a preventive maintenance program that meets your needs:

  • Gather and record information about your assets. Original equipment manufacturer (OEM) manuals are a good place to start. Here you will find detailed information on the different pieces of equipment, serial numbers and inspection frequencies.
  • Take inventory of your equipment. A critical step in risk-based preventative maintenance, inventorying your equipment requires you to pay special attention to the assets that are most important to your daily operations. A critical asset is the one that would be most disruptive if it were to fail and should be prioritized when developing a preventive maintenance strategy.
  • Establish resources for each preventive maintenance task. These resources may include:
    • Spare parts and manufacturer information so they can be re-ordered when needed.

    • Photos, diagrams or other documents associated with each item.

    • Instructions for inspecting each asset.

    • A maintenance log allowing you to track the repair history of each asset.

    • Safety information.

  • Create long and short term schedules for each asset. First, create a long-term schedule for each critical asset and set up recurring maintenance plans based on time or usage (the manufacturer’s recommendations will tell you which).

    Sample Brightly Asset Essentials Preventative Maintenance Schedule (Source)

    Then you can focus on short-term schedules, what your weekly preventive maintenance tasks will look like. A project management (PM) task may include cleaning, venting, lubricating, chain or belt adjustments, oil changes, or inspecting, repairing, or replacing various parts.

  • Train your employees about any preventive maintenance tasks you have scheduled, their timelines, and the resources available to assist you with these processes.

Again, preventive maintenance software makes it easy to keep track of all of this information and can also contain OEM manuals so you can easily access instructions and other documents as needed.

Who should use preventive maintenance?

Any business that depends on the equipment for their day-to-day operations would benefit from preventive maintenance. Here are some specific examples:

  • Manufacturing
  • Any business that manufactures products using machines is an excellent candidate for preventative maintenance, whether it’s producing furniture, cars, shoes, or potato chips.

  • Fleet management
  • Moving, shipping and construction companies all depend on vehicles. Preventative maintenance ensures that company vehicles are in good condition to perform daily operations and transport drivers safely. See the image below for an example of preventive maintenance software used for fleet maintenance management.

    Fleet management feature in eMaint CMMS, a cloud-based CMMS tool

    Fleet management feature in eMaint CMMS, a cloud-based CMMS tool (Source)
  • Commercial real estate
  • Whether you rent apartments or physical storefronts, preventative maintenance keeps HVAC appliances and systems running smoothly.

  • Medical
  • Preventive maintenance is particularly important for hospitals and medical practices, where the proper functioning of equipment can have serious consequences.

If your business has a lot of equipment, like the examples listed above, preventive maintenance software is a must. The primary goal of preventive maintenance software is to extend the life of an asset with a preventive maintenance schedule, which maximizes asset value and limits unnecessary replacement costs. It achieves this by scheduling the regular maintenance of equipment, reducing downtime by combining routine tasks when possible, and subsequently reducing repair expenses and losses resulting from delay. or a stoppage of production. It also allows your maintenance team to track work order data so that unscheduled maintenance work can be taken care of in addition to regular maintenance.

Preventative maintenance pays off

While the benefits of preventive maintenance are many, a preventive maintenance program can present challenges:

  • The initial costs can be considerable. You may need to hire more staff or purchase additional equipment to ensure your existing assets can perform optimally. Preventive maintenance software can also be expensive. If you’re working on a budget, you might be persuaded to manually track equipment maintenance, which brings us to the next point.
  • It can be tedious. Preventive maintenance can be time consuming and labor intensive. Equipment inspection and inventory requires a commitment of time as well as attention to detail.
  • It can be overwhelming. If you have hundreds or even thousands of assets to maintain, organizing and implementing any kind of preventive maintenance strategy can be daunting.

Yet preventive maintenance is the method of choice for companies that depend on machinery for the reasons we discussed earlier: it is more cost-effective because it offers a high return on investment and allows for more efficient plant management. And if it’s within your budget, preventive maintenance software will alleviate the challenges listed above by automating processes and keeping records for you.

To note: The apps mentioned in this article are examples and are not intended as endorsements or recommendations.

About Yvonne Lozier

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