The Secret to Building a Successful Maintenance Management Plan

CMMS Software / December 2019

As with all asset-intensive organisations, operating with a successful maintenance management plan is key to maximising the performance and efficiency of physical assets. As well as generating revenue. After all, it’s no secret that effective maintenance strategies enable businesses to cut maintenance costs and reduce downtime. But why do so many industry-leading companies find it difficult to build a maintenance management plan that is right for them?

Why Asset-Intensive Businesses Need a Maintenance Management Plan

The planning and scheduling of maintenance is at the heart of asset management and maintenance software tools, most notably a CMMS. By utilizing features such as work order management and maintenance management, businesses can optimize the efficiency of their physical assets. Particularly the assets that they rely heavily on to generate revenue.

Essentially, the perfect maintenance management plan allows a company 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

One person who knows the benefits of deploying a maintenance management plan is Ryan Batchelor, Maintenance Manager at Britvic Plc.:

“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, instead of investing in tune-ups. As a result, maintenance plans get put on hold. Businesses then have no choice but to fall back on to reactive maintenance programs out of necessity. This leads to a reliance on reactive maintenance, high service and repair costs, and delays in production caused by unplanned downtime.

Assessing the true cost of reactive maintenance is essential when deciding how much to invest in an improved maintenance 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%.

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The Different Types of Maintenance Management

Choosing the Right Maintenance Strategy

Before jumping ahead and designing a maintenance management plan, it’s important to know which maintenance strategy is best.

Corrective/Reactive Maintenance

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

Although Reactive maintenance actions will get equipment up-and-running again, it does not mean it will 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 management plan is always the wrong choice. If the failure of a piece of equipment will not cause downtime or safety risks, the extra cost of preventive maintenance may not be worth the investment.

Preventive Maintenance

Preventive maintenance involves periodic checkups with the intention of preventing 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 any complicated software. 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

Effective predictive maintenance leads to a ‘Just In Time’ maintenance management plan that maximizes equipment availability in relation to maintenance time. 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 and computerized tools, 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. Effectively, reliability-centred maintenance involves the constant improvement of a business’s overall maintenance management strategy.

A perfectly planned maintenance management plan needs the parts and technicians

Building an Effective Maintenance Management Plan in 7 Steps

Prioritise Reasons for Downtime

The first step of any change in strategy is understanding what you are working with. In order to successfully transition to a more efficient maintenance strategy, you must gather data on the current state of affairs.

The first step of any change in strategy is understanding what you are working with. In order to successfully transition to a more efficient maintenance strategy, you must gather data on the current state of affairs.

Assess your current level of Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF), Mean Time To Repair (MTTR), spare part expenditure, machine downtime, equipment usage, and technician response time. If you have already invested in CMMS Software, this step will be easier than if you have been relying on spreadsheets or other manual methods.

With this information in hand, you can calculate the cost of one hour of downtime. One hour of downtime of a critical asset may be far more expensive than one hour of downtime for a less essential machine. One way to better assess current downtime is to calculate the average downtime cost per hour for inessential, average, and critical components.

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 current availability will give you a reasonable estimate for the value of increased availability. Especially 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 most critical assets. For inessential components that do not affect safety, reactive or corrective maintenance may be the most cost-effective route. Whatever the chosen strategy, cost-benefit analysis requires accurate quantification of both the cost and the benefits.

Invest in a CMMS

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

Fortunately for business owners, CMMS Software is more accessible, user-friendly, and affordable than ever before. The switch towards cloud-based technologies means that hefty capital investments in on-premise systems are no longer necessary. The transition to a monthly software-as-a-service model, at a variety of price points, means businesses of all sizes can find a solution that works for them.

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 maximizing 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.

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 overall 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.

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. CMMS Software 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.

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 management plan can truly be personalised to each business involved.