The Benefits of Preventive Maintenance & How to Plan For It

CMMS Software / April 2023

What Is Preventive Maintenance? (And How It Can Reduce Downtime)

What Is Preventive Maintenance?

Preventive Maintenance (PM) is a proactive maintenance strategy that involves regular and routine maintenance of equipment, machinery, vehicles, and other assets to reduce the likelihood of failure.

This strategic maintenance approach – also referred to as preventative maintenance – consists of scheduled maintenance, cleaning, repairs, and spare part replacements. Ultimately helping businesses to reduce unplanned downtime and prolong asset performance.

With 82% of companies experiencing unplanned downtime at least once every three years, implementing a preventive maintenance management plan should be of top priority for maintenance leaders. Particularly those that are reliant on equipment and machinery for generating revenue.

Companies Experiencing Unplanned Downtime 2014-2017*

  • 82%18%

*Outages lasted an average of 4 hours and cost an estimated $2 million (Vanson Bourne Study, 2017)

For businesses without a proactive approach to maintenance, running an asset to the point of failure can cost them up to 10 times more in repairs and lost production than companies with a planned preventive maintenance strategy.

When deployed alongside a computerised maintenance management system (CMMS), PM offers much more than simply performing routine maintenance. It allows maintenance teams to collect analytical data surrounding performance, breakdowns, and repairs, enabling them to set performance thresholds that help to quickly identify and prevent future faults.

What Are the Benefits of a Preventive Maintenance Plan?

80% of maintenance personnel see preventive maintenance as a top priority in their industry. This is in preference to both reactive and predictive maintenance plans. Companies that are reliant on the performance and availability of their production assets can gain several benefits from deploying a preventive maintenance plan:

Reduce Unplanned Downtime

Through scheduling servicing and repairs, an asset’s uptime will increase. Data analysis can alert engineers to irregular asset performance drops, allowing them to check equipment before it unexpectedly fails and results in unplanned downtime – something that cost the automotive industry $22,000 each minute in 2015.

Fewer Breakdowns

The objective of preventive maintenance management is to reduce the likelihood of equipment breakdowns. By having set schedules to either change lubricants, replace bearings, or repair moving parts during planned downtime, the possibility of asset breakdown is significantly reduced.

Improve Asset Availability

Deploying a preventative maintenance plan is designed to prolong the operational stage of an asset’s lifecycle, to keep either equipment or machinery in optimal performance for longer. This allows for greater availability of assets to limit any chance of production downtime. 78% of companies who implemented preventive maintenance with a CMMS saw improvements in equipment life.

Less Money Spent on Repairs

Reactive maintenance – a maintenance strategy deployed to fix and repair an asset only when it has failed – has a 40% higher cost expectancy than preventive maintenance. That’s due to high engineer call-out costs, a loss of production, and spare parts purchasing.

What are the advantages of preventive maintenance

Lower Asset Turnover Rate

With regular maintenance, an asset’s operation lifecycle stage is prolonged meaning ageing equipment and machinery can run longer before needing to be replaced. This helps to reduce disposal and subsequent procurement costs to replace assets on the production line.

Reduced safety risks

Equipment and machinery that is regularly serviced will decrease the risk of employees working with unsafe assets, with 30% of all manufacturing deaths related to maintenance activities. Regular checks also ensure assets are kept up-to-date with safety codes and standards.

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Preventive Maintenance Types & Examples

Preventive maintenance is an alternative maintenance type to both reactive and predictive maintenance (PdM). But various maintenance types sit under the umbrella of preventive maintenance too. Much like how condition-based maintenance is a type of PdM.

Essentially, there are three main types of preventive maintenance:

Time-Based (TBM)

Time-Based Maintenance is an approach most commonly deployed for equipment that is essential to operations. It involves planned maintenance that can be triggered daily, weekly, monthly or annually to ensure equipment remains in optimal working condition.

Usage-Based (UBM)

Usage-Based Maintenance is saved for assets that are used daily. By setting usage-based triggers, maintenance managers and technicians will be alerted when equipment needs servicing. Usage-based alerts can be triggered after a certain amount of operating hours, miles, or production cycles. For example, a vehicle may need to be serviced every 10,000 miles.

Failure-Finding (FFM)

Failure-finding maintenance is both unique to itself as well as a type of preventive maintenance. A failure-finding approach refers to an inspection that is carried out to discover defects or failures in an asset. For example, a malfunction in a smoke alarm will never be identified until that alarm is triggered.

Companies can choose to deploy any type of PM that suits their maintenance requirements. Some preventive maintenance examples include:

  • Total preventive maintenance: Total preventive maintenance (TPM) is deployed to include all personnel – not just the maintenance team – in a proactive approach to maintenance. That includes machine operators, technicians, and asset managers.
  • Planned preventive maintenance for buildings: PPM is used in facilities management to reduce the likelihood of HVAC units failing, elevators being unavailable, and roofs leaking, each risking the safety of building occupants.
  • Lubricant and oil analysis: Scheduled oil and lubricant level changes in machinery are used to keep parts running smoothly and reduce machine wear.

When Best to Implement a Preventative Maintenance Plan

Whether businesses have no maintenance plan in place or maintenance teams are using spreadsheets to track reactive strategies, four key signs signal to a maintenance manager the need for preventive maintenance management:

  1. A rise in unavailable assets
  2. Delayed production schedules due to constant asset failure
  3. High emergency repair costs
  4. Increasing asset turnover rate of ageing equipment and infrastructure

Compared to other strategies, preventive maintenance is a cost-effective approach that can save businesses thousands of pounds each year in repair and replacement costs. This makes it appealing to asset-heavy industries such as oil and gas, utilities, healthcare, hospitality, and education.

Although deploying a PM strategy will provide the tools necessary to optimise the upkeep of assets, there is also the risk of excessive preventative maintenance. This is when it is applied to assets of low value or priority in the production process such as lightbulbs.

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What Type of Assets Are You Looking to Maintain?

8 Steps to Creating a Preventive Maintenance Plan

Step 1: Highlight End Goals

The key to understanding if preventive maintenance is right for you is to first highlight the goals you want to achieve. Do you want to:

  • Reduce downtime
  • Reduce repair costs
  • Increase asset availability
  • Improve inventory management
  • Increase production rate

Step 2: Choose a Platform

You should now decide which format you’re going to use to achieve your preventative maintenance goals. The top three methods for performing maintenance management are pen-and-paper (39%), spreadsheets (52%), and a CMMS (63%).

With the influx of affordable, easy-to-deploy, and user-friendly digital solutions that are available in today’s market, there’s no reason why any organisation shouldn’t choose a CMMS to deploy their preventative maintenance plan. A CMMS allows small and medium businesses and large enterprises to easily automate their maintenance management.

Step 3: Collect Equipment Data

To build an effective maintenance plan, you need to identify all of your assets. This includes the equipment and machines that are critical to your operations. When mapping out your assets, group them into categories that can help your maintenance team easily identify them. Such as:

  • Location
  • Priority
  • Family (for example, air conditioning will be grouped into the HVAC maintenance family)

A CMMS allows you to attach important documentation, user manuals, manufacturer recommendations, warranties, and compliance standards to all digital asset files.

Step 4: Identify Critical Assets

With limited time and resources, scheduling a preventive maintenance plan for your inventory of equipment and machinery can be overwhelming. Instead, identify the assets that are critical for your operations.

Choosing just one or two priority assets offers a more manageable approach and acts as a testing ground for future planned maintenance. As well as making it easier to determine your key performance indicators (KPIs).

Step 5: Determine KPIs

Setting KPIs is key to understanding if your preventative maintenance plan is working. Example maintenance management KPIs include:

  • Achieving 99% annual uptime of critical equipment
  • Eliminating unplanned downtime within 3 years
  • Increasing inventory and spare parts stock accuracy to 90%
  • Reduce annual workplace-related accidents to under 2%

KPIs can be set either after critical assets have been identified or at the very beginning of the processes when you’re getting buy-in from stakeholders.

Step 6: Build a Process

Once you’ve aligned your priority assets and set your KPIs, it’s time to drill down and start implementing your preventive maintenance plan. Using a maintenance management tool, you can begin to schedule maintenance for both the short-term and long-term. This process includes:

  • Assigning maintenance personnel
  • Setting tasks
  • Prioritising work orders with due dates and condition-based metrics
  • Automating work orders through CMMS Software

Step 7: Create a Preventive Maintenance Checklist

To promote regular preventive maintenance checks, you’ll want to make a list of the tasks in your PM plan. This is called a preventive maintenance checklist. This will feature tasks, who they’re assigned to, completion dates, and other information. Checklists will be available to all personnel and accessible on a CMMS.
What to Include In a Preventive Maintenance Checklist
It’s important to remember that checklists will be different depending on the business type, size, industry, location, and operation. However, there are common maintenance items that will feature in a preventive maintenance checklist such as:

  • Has cleaning been actioned?
  • Change lubricant
  • Inspect tools for wear and tear
  • Replace air filters

If you need help knowing what to include on your checklist, SafetyCulture has an example list here.

Step 8: Track, Review, and Adjust

A trap that many maintenance teams fall foul of is not reviewing their plan. By not monitoring schedules and leaving planned maintenance to stagnate, opportunities can be missed. To track and monitor your plan effectively, be sure to:

  • Regularly check manufacturers’ recommended procedures
  • Use collected data and personal experience to tweak work orders
  • Review the performance of technicians and maintenance teams

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What Type of Assets Are You Looking to Maintain?


What Is a Preventive Maintenance Plan?

A preventive maintenance plan is a strategic approach to asset maintenance that incorporates regular servicing and scheduled maintenance to keep equipment and machinery running longer at optimal performance levels.

What’s the Difference Between Preventative Maintenance & Reactive Maintenance?

Whereas preventive maintenance takes a more proactive approach to carry out regular maintenance, reactive maintenance is the opposite. Businesses that deploy reactive maintenance wait until an asset has failed, only then will engineers and technicians perform inspections and repairs.

What’s the Difference Between Preventative Maintenance & Predictive Maintenance

Predictive maintenance is a proactive maintenance approach, like preventive maintenance, except maintenance teams use data analytics and machine learning to estimate and predict when an asset will fail and prevent it.

What Are the Disadvantages of Preventive Maintenance?

Although preventive maintenance will reduce downtime, the disadvantages of deploying it include; the possibility of excessive scheduled maintenance, high start-up and implementation costs, the need for more resources (spare parts, staff, etc.), and it can be a time-consuming process.