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Preventative maintenance, also called preventive maintenance, is a widely used form of asset maintenance in a business. As part of an asset management system, or preventative maintenance offers the promise of less asset down-time and more efficiently performing assets.

When implemented correctly, preventative plays a significant role in protecting and optimizing assets. To implement preventative maintenance in business, it is essential to first understand its basics. Below, we have provided all you need to know about the methods, features, advantages, and disadvantages of preventative maintenance.

Augmented Reality technology maintenance and service of mechanical parts

What Is Preventative Maintenance?

Preventative maintenance (PM) is a process that involves taking actions to maintain equipment regularly. It involves performing consistent and regular business and equipment inspections, cleaning, lubricating, and part replacement on physical assets such as machines.

PM is generally used to prevent the breakdown of assets. It is used as prevention against costly equipment failures by consistently offering asset maintenance services whether an asset needs to be maintained or not.

Essentially, preventative maintenance is defined as a maintenance program that involves scheduling maintenance tasks such to detect, avert, or mitigate the degradation of an asset. It does this with the aim of extending the asset’s lifespan by controlling degradation to an acceptable level.

Some examples of preventive maintenance tasks include: cleaning equipment, replacing worn-out components, and lubricating rotating parts.

Types of Preventative Maintenance

Preventative maintenance is systematic, routine, and performed to prevent the sudden breakdown of crucial assets in a business. While this is straightforward, preventative maintenance is split into different types with different approaches and features.

Every type of preventative maintenance shares the same goal of preventing sudden equipment failure. However, every type also adopts different methods of anticipating and preventing these breakdowns. Although the types of preventative maintenance vary widely, they share three things in common:

  • A goal
  • A pattern
  • A concept

There are majorly four different types of preventative maintenance. These are:

1. Periodic Maintenance

Also known as time-based maintenance, periodic maintenance focuses on finding a regular maintenance schedule and routine. It involves maintenance services performed at scheduled intervals. In this type of preventative maintenance, the business chooses consistent intervals throughout the calendar year when an asset will be assessed, cleaned, and lubricated whether it has faults or not.

Periodic maintenance can be monthly, weekly, quarterly, or even annually. It focuses on how often an asset should be maintained to increase its reliability and useful lifespan while keeping unplanned downtime minimal.

Although a business’s maintenance operators are sometimes charged with determining how often assets should be maintained, the easiest way to determine how often an asset should be maintained is by checking the manufacturer recommendations or guide. 

Manufacturer’s guides are based on Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF). MTBF is the average time a machine operates between stops or equipment downtime. Because the gaps between each stop are calculated to an accurate degree, they can help businesses determine the perfect time in the period gap to schedule maintenance procedures.

Periodic maintenance may also include Failure-Finding Maintenance (FFM) and Risk-Based Maintenance (RBM) sub-categories. FFM focuses on regularly servicing hidden parts of an asset while RBM involves prioritizing high-risk prevention maintenance tasks over low-risk tasks when armed with limited resources.

Examples of periodic maintenance tasks include:

  • Assessing bearing grease
  • Gauging machine temperature
  • Cleaning oil filters
  • Changing lubricating oils.
  • Cleaning HVAC or air conditioning filters

Periodic maintenance processes keep repair costs minimal, reduce an asset’s likelihood of failure, are easy to implement, and require no added equipment to begin. However, they puts the asset at risk of over-maintenance, which might be time-consuming.

2. Meter-Based Maintenance

Meter-based maintenance is also known as performance-based maintenance. It is the type of routine maintenance that focuses on using the extent of performance of a critical equipment to gauge when it needs maintenance services.

Also sometimes called usage-based maintenance, this type of asset maintenance is triggered by the utilization of an asset. In meter-based performance, variables such as hours used, miles driven, and pressure generated is commonly used to indicate when an asset should be serviced.

This means these variables should be consistently monitored to know the optimal maintenance period. While some assets have in-built meters, others may require separately installed components to measure these variables.

An example of a meter-based preventative maintenance schedule is scheduling the maintenance of a conveyor belt according to its maximum run time. If the conveyor belt runs 500 times before it breaks down, maintenance can be provided immediately after the 450-round mark

3. Predictive Maintenance

Although predictive maintenance (Pdm)  is usually classified as a type of maintenance management strategy on its own, it is also a type of preventative maintenance. A common problem in preventing maintenance is the fear of over-maintaining an asset.

However, in a bid to prevent this problem, some businesses find themselves not providing enough maintenance services. Pdm offers just the amount of maintenance services an asset needs. It uses condition monitoring to schedule these maintenance services.

However, pdm  is more advanced than time and meter-based types of preventative maintenance and is usually more expensive to implement. Predictive maintenance uses internet of things (IoT) sensors to continuously assess an asset’s performance.

These sensors continuously monitor metrics such as vibration and temperature and detect a change in these metrics. This change or abnormality usually means there’s a fault, causing a work order to be automatically generated within a computerized maintenance management system or CMMS and assigned to a technician.

The CMMS in this use case is a preventive maintenance software that centralizes data relating to maintenance activities and facilitates the processes of maintenance operations when necessary. By doing this, businesses can provide assets with maintenance services only when necessary.

This reactive mode of maintenance saves time and resources in the business. An example of predictive maintenance in a preventative maintenance strategy will be installing a thermal sensor on a machine. This sensor continuously measures the temperature of the asset and enables an alert when it notices a change in normal temperature.

4. Prescriptive Maintenance

Prescriptive maintenance is the most advanced type of preventative maintenance. It uses sensors just like predictive maintenance but takes it a step further by implementing machine learning (ML) software and Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Like predictive maintenance, prescriptive maintenance involves collecting data from assets and using this data to determine the best time for maintenance. However, smart ML software increases the efficiency of this maintenance strategy by analyzing equipment conditions over a time, assessing risks or faults, and making specialized maintenance recommendations.

This leads to increased real-time accuracy that outperforms other types of preventative maintenance. Prescriptive allows maintenance managers and machine operators to monitor variable operating conditions up to the time of equipment failure.

This offers an insight into potential outcomes that could lead to equipment stops. Using prescriptive maintenance, businesses can use prescriptive analysis to hypothesize potential outcomes that could lead to equipment stops.

This makes it easier to avoid these possible situations in real life. An example of prescriptive maintenance is using AI to determine the chances of skipping maintenance on an asset due to unavoidable conditions. Prescriptive maintenance offers the highest form of maintenance accuracy a business can achieve.

It also helps in streamlining maintenance costs and making better maintenance decisions. However, prescriptive maintenance is very expensive and needs to be customized to suit the business production facilities.

Benefits of Preventive Maintenance 

An effective preventative maintenance offers numerous benefits when implemented properly. Some advantages of preventative maintenance include:

1. Increased Asset Lifespan

The major advantage of preventative maintenance is its effect on increasing asset useful lifespan. Because assets are important to the revenue-making abilities of an organization, it is important to ensure the business optimizes its value until they need to be discarded. 

Constant repairs make assets susceptible to wear and test. Over time, this causes faster asset depreciation, thereby reducing its lifespan. Preventative maintenance prevents this by ensuring that assets are maintained regularly.

This prevents constant equipment failure, thereby extending the asset’s lifespan.

2. Reduces Asset Breakdown

PM increases and improves a business’s uptime.  With preventative maintenance, businesses can quickly spot a fault in an asset before it breaks down. This reduces the risk of asset damage and production disruptions in the business facility, thereby playing a crucial role in facility management.

3. Reduced Safety Hazards

Safety hazards in an organization are often a result of several factors such as employee carelessness or environmental factors (wet floors and a disorganized workplace). However, the state of a piece of equipment also plays a significant role in the possibility of an accident.

When a machine is faulty, it poses risks such as overheating, explosion, or any other kind of malfunction. This puts the health and safety of employees at risk while also going against the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA).

Preventative maintenance tasks reduce the risks of unfortunate workplace incidents by ensuring machines are in optimal functional shape. 

4. Scheduling

Preventative maintenance usually deals with schedules, making it easier for maintenance managers to keep track of maintenance tasks and services. With these schedules on place, businesses can easily keep track of asset maintenance rates while also properly allocating maintenance resources. 

This not only makes it easier to create an asset maintenance budget but also helps businesses easily allocate necessary resources while creating a seamless maintenance workflow. Scheduling maintenance services also makes it easier to provide asset maintenance services at the right time.

5. Money Saving

Many business owners argue that constantly maintaining assets can be expensive. As a result, they choose the run-to-failure method of asset operation over regular inspections. However, repairs and replacements of assets are even more expensive, making preventative maintenance one of the best strategies any business can ever adopt.

Preventative maintenance reduces the occurrence of asset repairs, thereby helping businesses save money on costly purchases of spare parts and payment of repair services. 

6. Better Asset Reliability

Without constant and unpredictable stoppage, assets are more reliable in operation. This results in a more seamless operation, better production capacity, increased production cycles, and increased capabilities to meet production goals.

Preventive maintenance makes assets more reliable, thereby improving business operation.

Essential Elements In Preventative Maintenance

Every successful and effective preventative maintenance strategy has several elements. These elements fit into a preventative maintenance plan and are usually the difference between an ineffective plan and a successful one.

Some elements of preventative maintenance include:

1. Goals

Unlike other corrective maintenance plans that focus on restoring faulty assets, preventative maintenance has a major objective of keeping assets in optimal working condition. However, a successful PM program requires a business goal.

What is the organization’s goal of adopting preventative maintenance? Is it to save resources? Improve production? Reduce costs? Or reduce asset breakdown? Businesses can either choose to focus on achieving one goal or achieving numerous at once.

Knowing what goal(s) your business has is a great way to determine the best preventative maintenance strategy.

Man using tablet pc against shelves with boxes in warehouse asset inventory

2. Asset Inventory

The asset map is another crucial element in preventative maintenance. This is possible through asset inventory.Although asset inventory is usually used for accounting records and asset audits in an organization, it is also important to optimize preventative maintenance plans. 

Critical assets should be well recorded with all necessary information, including:

  • Asset brand or manufacturer
  • Asset make/model
  • Asset serial number
  • Category
  • QR or barcode
  • Location within the organization
  • Unit number.

Some assets that do not need preventative maintenance and should not be in the preventative maintenance plan include:

  • Short life assets 
  • Disposable assets 
  • Durable or non-maintainable assets  
  • Low capitalization assets 
  • Non-critical assets.

3. Asset Prioritization

Time and resources are limited in an organization. This makes it impossible to put all assets on a maintenance plan. Instead, businesses should focus on prioritizing critical assets. A maintenance team will be required to create an asset hierarchy for critical assets.

This will highlight how these assets affect the business operation and will determine which assets should get the most attention. The asset hierarchy will also index every component within these critical machines and how risky they are to the operation of that machine.

For example, a machine with a gas tank is always deemed a priority. Assets that should be prioritized include:

  • Assets that impact production
  • Assets that have high repair and maintenance costs
  • Assets that require regular maintenance 
  • Assets that pose safety hazards.

4. Preventative Maintenance Schedule

How often do you plan on servicing your assets? As previously mentioned, this schedule can be time-based, usage-based, or determined by ML, AI, and CMMS. Maintenance work schedules should be fixed on days that do not disrupt the production process.

It also depends on the work order system, available time, available resources, and maintenance technicians. 

5. CMMS Software

Most successful preventative maintenance programs feature a CMMS software. When integrated with preventative maintenance, a computerized maintenance management system software optimizes the utilization and availability of physical equipment.

More than 58% of businesses depend on CMMS. However, not every CMMS successfully manages asset maintenance. Some common reasons for CMMS failure include:

  • CMMS can be complex
  • It might be poorly implemented
  • Resistant to technological adoption.

6. Team Communication

Communication is integral for the deployment of a successful preventative maintenance system. Team members should be on the same page with one another and be able to communicate clearly and efficiently.  Some effects of poor or lack of communication in preventative maintenance include:

  • Poor maintenance
  • Over-maintenance
  • Sudden downtimes
  • Lack of efficient asset prioritization.

7. Creating KPIs

In preventative maintenance, KPIs are used as performance indicators to track the success of the maintenance storage. Some popularly used KPIs in measuring the effectiveness and efficiency of a preventative maintenance strategy include:

  • Planned Maintenance Percentage: The amount of time spent on planned preventative maintenance compared to the amount of time you spent on unplanned maintenance.
  • Preventive Maintenance Compliance (PMC): The amount of scheduled preventative maintenance tasks you completed within a particular period.
  • Scheduled Maintenance Critical Percentage (SMCP): How delayed maintenance plans affected business operations and production.
  • Mean Time To Repair (MTTR): The average time it takes to repair and return an asset to optimal functionality.

8. Upper-Management Support

For a successful preventive maintenance plan, you will need your management experts’ help and opinions. This element involves conveying the upper management to support your plan. Gaining upper-management support is possible by mapping out a goal and showing the management that goal.

You can also estimate an ROI on the positive effect of preventative maintenance business machines or assets.

How To Create An Effective Preventative Maintenance Checklist

A preventive maintenance checklist is a list of maintenance tasks that a maintenance technician needs to complete asset maintenance. Essentially, a preventative maintenance checklist is like a list of items you need to verify or inspect.

To create an effective preventative maintenance checklist:

  • Begin and end with safety instructions. This might include compulsory PPE, sanitization procedures, or lockout procedures.
  • Make sure it is a sequential process written in the right order.
  • Follow the “safety, clean, adjust, inspect, replenish, replace, rebuild, and safety” framework
  • Include enough details for new technicians to be on the same page
  • Provide pictures or diagrams where necessary
  • Be detailed but concise
  • Time the procedures.

Integrating Preventative maintenance In Your Business

Business assets are essential to the success of any company. This is exactly why they need to be optimized and continuously kept in optimal operating conditions. Preventative maintenance offers an easy and seamless way to help assets remain reliable and efficient, even in the long run.

With the different types of preventative maintenance strategies, you can keep your assets in tip-top condition for a long time. Are you planning to implement preventative maintenance in your business? Our guide on the basics of preventative offer an easy insight into all you need to know about this maintenance strategy.

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