What Is Preventive Maintenance: Types, Benefits & Planning a PM Strategy

CMMS Software / February 2024

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

This strategic maintenance approach includes scheduled maintenance, cleaning, repairs, and spare part replacements. Ultimately, PM helps maintenance teams reduce unplanned downtime and reduce the likelihood of equipment failure while prolonging asset performance.

82% of companies experience unplanned downtime at least once every three years, meaning the implementation of a preventive maintenance management plan should be of top priority for maintenance leaders.

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)

PM offers much more than simply performing routine maintenance when deployed alongside a computerised maintenance management system (CMMS). 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.

For businesses without a preventive approach to maintenance, equipment failure costs 10 times more in repairs and lost production than those with a preventive maintenance strategy already in place. That includes multiple types of PM strategies including time-based and usage-based.

Why Maintenance Leaders Opt For a Preventive Maintenance Strategy

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.

Essentially, four signs signal to a maintenance manager that a preventive maintenance approach is needed:

  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.

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What Are the Benefits of Preventive Maintenance?

A Reduction In Costly 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.

Unplanned downtime can be detrimental to a business’s operating cash flow. For example, it cost the automotive industry alone $22,000 every minute in 2015.

Fewer Breakdowns of Critical Equipment

The objective of preventive maintenance is to reduce the likelihood of equipment breakdowns. By having set schedules for changing lubricants, replacing bearings, and repairing moving parts during planned downtime, the possibility of asset breakdown is significantly reduced.

Improve Asset Availability

A preventive maintenance plan is designed to prolong the operational stage of an asset’s lifecycle, to keep equipment in optimal performance for longer. This allows for greater availability and limits the chances of production downtime.

78% of companies who implemented preventive maintenance with a CMMS saw improvements in equipment life.

Less Money Spent on Emergency 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. This is due to high engineer call-out costs, a loss of production, and waiting on the purchase of spare parts.

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 can run longer before needing to be replaced. This helps to reduce disposal and subsequent procurement costs to replace equipment on the production line.

Reduced Safety Risks

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

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 Productive 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.

8 Steps For Deploying a Successful 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 maintenance goals. The top three methods for performing maintenance management are pen-and-paper (39%), spreadsheets (52%), and 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 preventive 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 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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The Challenges and Risks Associated With Preventive Maintenance

Although preventive maintenance is seen as a widely beneficial approach, it can pose challenges and risks in the workplace.

  • High Costs: There is a significant amount of equipment, time, and resources needed for a successful PM plan, which means high upfront costs.
  • Excessive Maintenance: This is when PM plans are applied to assets of low value or priority in the production process and lead to overspending.
  • Resource Planning: Resources such as spare parts need to be proactively ordered and stored to match planning schedules.
  • Staff Training: Staff need to be trained and equipped to properly handle tasks and equipment, which requires money and time being spent on staff training.
  • Time-Consuming: At first, deploying a PM plan will take up the majority of a maintenance team’s time, which can disturb other regular activities in the workplace.

How Preventive Maintenance Compares to Other Maintenance Strategies

Reactive Maintenance

Whereas preventive maintenance takes a more proactive approach to carrying 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.

Pros of Reactive Maintenance

Cons of Reactive Maintenance

  • No startup fees
  • Low upfront costs
  • No over-planning of maintenance schedules
  • Less maintenance staff required
  • High emergency repair and replacement costs
  • The pressure to quickly repair equipment makes the process unsafe for workers
  • Assets have a shorter life expectancy and a higher turnover rate
  • Increased unplanned downtime of equipment

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.

Pros of Predictive Maintenance

Cons of Predictive Maintenance

  • Minimises unplanned downtime
  • Reduces time spent on maintenance
  • Increase the life expectancy of equipment
  • Minimises costs spent on labour, spare parts, and equipment
  • Detailed and time-consuming planning
  • High purchasing costs of advanced condition-monitoring equipment
  • Expensive hiring of skilled staff or training maintenance teams

Condition-Based Maintenance

Condition-based maintenance (CBM) actively monitors the health of moving and running equipment in real-time through the use of device monitoring sensors. This allows staff to determine when maintenance is required to optimise asset performance and determine the maintenance needed for each moving part.

Pros of Condition-Based Maintenance

Cons of Condition-Based Maintenance

  • Fewer disruptions to production
  • Less unplanned downtime
  • Faster diagnosis of problems
  • Reduced mean time between maintenance
  • More efficient planned downtime
  • Time taken to determine set events for part failures
  • Requires professionals to retrofit data-collecting sensor devices
  • Staff need to be trained in data analysis and asset performance
  • Expensive equipment is subject to damage in harsh environments