The Secret to Building a Successful Maintenance Management Plan

CMMS Software / December 2019

Operating with a successful maintenance management plan is key to maximising the performance and efficiency of physical assets. Particularly in organisations that rely heavily on the output of their assets.

It’s no secret that an effective strategy allows businesses to cut maintenance costs and reduce downtime. So, why do so many industry-leading companies find it difficult to build a maintenance plan that’s right for them?

In this guide, you’ll understand the importance of having a maintenance management plan that matches your key objectives. As well as learning how to build a maintenance plan with CMMS Software in seven simple steps.

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What Type of Assets Are You Looking to Maintain?

Why a Maintenance Management Plan Is Important

The planning and scheduling of maintenance is at the heart of asset management and maintenance software tools. By utilising a maintenance management system, businesses can optimise the efficiency of their assets. Particularly the assets that they rely heavily on to generate revenue.

The perfect maintenance management plan allows you to maintain its assets while controlling time and costs. This helps to ensure maximum efficiency throughout the operation process. With a maintenance strategy in place, businesses have a better chance of:

  • Controlling costs
  • Scheduling work orders
  • Assigning technicians
  • Minimising downtime of essential assets
  • Extending the usable life of assets
  • Staying compliant with regulatory standards

Ryan Batchelor, Maintenance Manager at Britvic Plc., describes the benefits of having a maintenance plan:

“We only run 24 hours, Monday to Friday. At the weekends, we shut down for planned maintenance activities. So when we start up on Monday, we’ve got smooth sailing for the week.”

But not all asset-intensive businesses have a maintenance strategy like the one deployed at Britvic. Pressures on budgets and resources can lead to too much effort spent on keeping production operational. As opposed to investing in tune-ups. As a result, maintenance plans get put on hold.

Businesses then have no choice but to fall back on reactive maintenance programs out of necessity. This leads to a reliance on reactive tasks, high service and repair costs, and production delays caused by unplanned downtime.

Assessing the true cost of reactive maintenance is key when deciding how much to invest in an improved plan. One study estimates that in the long-term, reactive maintenance costs 2-5 times more than proactive maintenance. Another shows that teams spend 35-45% of their time on reactive maintenance, compared to the industry rule-of-thumb of 20%.

What Maintenance Plan Is Right For You?

Before building your maintenance plan, it’s important to know which maintenance strategy is best.

The Different Types of Maintenance Management Plans

Corrective/Reactive Maintenance

Corrective and Reactive Maintenance strategies tend to be unplanned and sporadic. Reactive maintenance involves rectifying a fault that has caused a failure of the equipment, e.g. a stopped production line.

Although reactive maintenance will get equipment up and running again, it doesn’t mean it’ll be running optimally. In the short term, costs are low and planning is minimal. In the long-term, however, downtime costs increase and asset lifetime decreases.

However, this does not mean that a reactive maintenance plan is always the wrong choice. If equipment failure doesn’t cause downtime or safety risks, the extra cost may not be worth the investment.

Preventive Maintenance

Preventive maintenance involves periodic check ups to prevent failures before they happen. It uses time intervals, usage intervals, or condition-based triggers through performance and parameter monitoring.

Some preventive maintenance is mandatory, according to legal regulations or contract conditions. On the one hand, preventive maintenance improves fault detection and reduces reactive maintenance actions. For usage or time-based intervals, preparing a maintenance schedule does not require complex tools. But, on the other hand, such a schedule can become redundant and costly, leading to “over-maintenance”.

Predictive Maintenance

A predictive maintenance management plan aims to stop the “over-maintenance” of preventive methods. Performing maintenance only when necessary. This is done by monitoring equipment conditions with techniques such as:

  • Vibration analysis
  • Acoustic analysis
  • Oil analysis
  • Infrared thermography

Predictive maintenance leads to a ‘Just In Time’ maintenance plan that maximises equipment availability. It is the recommended option for critical assets with sporadic or unpredictable failure intervals.

However, it requires extensive reporting and monitoring equipment. This can be both time-consuming and expensive. But, with the rise of the Internet of Things, predictive maintenance is more achievable than ever before.

Prescriptive Maintenance

The latest development in maintenance strategies is only a few years old. Predictive maintenance uses equipment conditions to recommend the optimum time for maintenance. Prescriptive maintenance, however, analyses millions of data points to determine the best course of action.

Predictive maintenance will tell you when a component is likely to fail according to its temperature profile. Prescriptive analysis, however, will tell you that a 10% drop in pressure could give you 50% more running time – before failure. Prescriptive maintenance is still in its initial stages. Nevertheless, improved artificial intelligence and machine learning make it an area of great potential.

Reliability-Centred Maintenance

Reliability-centred maintenance is a business-wide strategy. It can incorporate all of the maintenance types mentioned above. Reliability-centred maintenance involves the constant improvement of your maintenance management strategy.

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What Type of Assets Are You Looking to Maintain?

How to Build a Maintenance Management Plan in 7 Steps

1. Prioritise Reasons for Downtime

The first step of any change in strategy is understanding what you are working with. To successfully transition maintenance strategies, you must gather data on the current state of affairs.

You should assess your current level of maintenance, including:

  • Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF)
  • Mean Time To Repair (MTTR)
  • Spare part expenditure
  • Machine downtime
  • Equipment usage
  • Technician response time

If you have already invested in a CMMS system, this step will be easy. As opposed to using spreadsheets or other manual methods.

With this information in hand, you can calculate the cost of one hour of downtime. One hour of critical asset downtime may be more expensive than one hour of downtime for a less essential machine.

One way to assess current downtime is to calculate the average downtime cost per hour for different components.

2. Adopt a Personalised Maintenance Strategy

Once the cost of downtime has been quantified, you can then put a value on maintenance. Businesses have to balance competing priorities for where their budget should be allocated. When margins are tight, maintenance is too frequently slashed. Everyone knows that more maintenance results in higher availability and less downtime. But it’s easier to make a case with concrete figures.

Comparing cost per hour of downtime with availability gives you an estimate for availability. For critical assets, you may find that a couple of percentage points increase in availability offers considerable value to the business.

Not all maintenance management plans are created equally, though. A prescriptive maintenance schedule powered by machine learning may be a smart investment for your critical assets. For inessential components though, reactive or corrective maintenance may be the most cost-effective route.

Whatever the strategy, cost-benefit analysis requires accurate quantification of both costs and benefits.

3. Invest in a CMMS

In the modern manufacturing environment, digitalisation is no longer just an option. Preventive, corrective, and reactive maintenance can be managed using spreadsheets and manual methods. The use of cost-effective and efficient predictive maintenance, however, requires more computational power.

Fortunately, CMMS Software is more mobile, accessible, user-friendly, and affordable than ever before. The use of cloud-based tools means that capital investments in on-premise systems are no longer necessary. The transition to a monthly SaaS model means businesses of all sizes can find a solution that works for them.

4. Adopt a Digital Maintenance Schedule

With data and software in hand, you can then start moving from reactive to proactive. Your CMMS Software and last maintenance dates will give you your initial preventive maintenance schedule.

Schedule planning is imperative to avoid double-booking a technician and maximising effectiveness. Remember that a reactive maintenance management plan will not be eliminated. A general rule of thumb is to estimate at least 20% of maintenance time for reactive tasks.

5. Synchronise Work Orders, Technicians, Spare Parts, and Maintenance Programmes

A perfectly planned maintenance management plan is useless unless you have the right parts and technicians to carry it out.

Maintenance typically requires the consumption of materials. Whether simple or complex, the parts to complete a task should be on hand before the task is started. All businesses face the decision of risking tying up too much value in the parts warehouse against extending downtime due to out of stock parts. Maintenance cannot be efficient without robust spare parts management.

Spare parts inventory should be subject to the same rigorous analysis as your maintenance strategy:

  • What parts are slow-moving or obsolete?
  • Are excess parts being kept to satisfy high-risk aversion?
  • What do you even have on hand, anyway?

One investigation found duplicate items in a given site ranging from 5-15%. Most CMMS tools support a level of spare part inventory management and asset tracking.

6. Track Short-Term KPIs and Build Long Term Maintenance Programmes

It’s no secret that what gets measured gets managed. Simply tracking metrics can lead to improvements, as more operators and managers are mindful of KPIs. However, tracking is just the first part of the optimisation equation. Solid data is the foundation for effective improvement.

A key advantage of CMMS Software is that metric tracking is taken care of with minimal administration. KPIs like Mean Time Before Failure (MTBF), Mean Time To Repair (MTTR), Planned Maintenance Percentage (PMP), and system availability are calculated automatically. A CMMS also comes with predefined reports and graphics that give stakeholders a clear picture of progress and problem areas.

Experts recommend spending a few weeks tracking the current state of affairs before implementing changes to strategy.

7. Make Data-Driven Adjustments to Maintenance Management Plan

With a clear picture of your performance baseline, the effect of new changes can be measured over days, weeks, and months. Experts recommend introducing one or two new changes at a time to limit the number of variables that affect your metrics. This helps to isolate any changes that can ultimately have negative effects.

One thing to keep in mind is that it’s not necessary to carry out a complete overhaul all at once. Budget constraints may have you performing preventive maintenance before introducing more effective predictive maintenance techniques. Tracking predictive maintenance effectiveness for one or two important assets can help you determine if and when it should be implemented across more machines. Reliability centred maintenance analysis offers a framework for improving company-wide strategy.


Making sweeping changes to a manufacturing operation is a daunting task. Companies of all sizes rightly consider the hassle and risk of failure too great. Nevertheless, the increasingly competitive environment means no asset-intensive operation can risk being left behind.

Fortunately for today’s businesses, the teething problems of the first adopters have been ironed out. Small businesses are no longer locked out of technology solutions due to cost. Predictive methods are more accurate than ever, and a maintenance plan can truly be personalised to each business involved.

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