What Is PPM & Why It’s the Right Maintenance Strategy For Your Facility

Equipment failures will happen; your HVAC will go down, the elevator will get stuck, and the roof will leak. Statistically, something will go wrong at the worst time. Right before a big event or when the CEO is in town, or just as you’re about to walk out the door for vacation. It’s inevitable and it stinks. But it’s part of the job.

As a facilities manager, you’re responsible for keeping your building running as smoothly as possible; 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

The good news is that there are ways you can plan for failures and take control of your building maintenance with a planned preventative maintenance (PPM) strategy. PPM means fixing small problems before they become big ones through the scheduled maintenance of assets. Like getting to the small crack in the roof before you have to use a rowboat to navigate the flooded basement.

By the end of this article, you’ll understand what PPM is, the pros and cons of deploying it, and alternative maintenance strategies that are sometimes used instead.

In this guide:

What is PPM?

PPM is planned preventative maintenance, otherwise known as scheduled maintenance. The concept is that you don’t wait for equipment to fail, you create a plan to have assets checked on a regular schedule to make sure they are operating at their best all year long.

A preventative maintenance schedule may include actions such as cleaning, lubrication, oil changes, adjustments, repairs, inspecting and replacing parts, and partial or regularly scheduled complete overhauls.

The purpose of implementing a program like this is to prolong the life of building equipment, assets, and systems. The bottom line, PPM is designed to make your life easier. To streamline dates, documents, compliance, and more all into one place that allows you to better take care of your properties.

Some common areas included in a PPM are:

  • HVAC
  • Plumbing
  • Electrical
  • Landscaping
  • Fire/Life/Safety
  • Access Control
  • Lighting
  • Parking Lot/Garage

4 Key Benefits of a PPM Strategy

The number one reason to implement a PPM strategy is to mitigate risk. PPM plans save your time, resources, and money by identifying and addressing potential issues before they develop into bigger problems.

The goal is to catch an issue or potential hazard before it’s too late. The cost of unplanned maintenance includes lost production, business effects of downtimes, higher costs for parts, as well as time lost in responding.

1. Cost Savings

One key benefit of PPM is year-over-year cost savings. While it may be a bit of an investment upfront, the annualised savings have proven to reduce overall maintenance costs. When a planned maintenance schedule is effective, it can reduce reactive maintenance costs by 12-18%.

Unplanned downtimes cost an estimated £38 million every year. Putting a plan in place ensures your business’s assets are operating according to manufacturer guidelines. As parts are replaced, equipment continues to perform, reducing the frequency of buying new equipment.

Your PPM strategy will also help you plan for your annual operating budget, allocating dollars throughout the year for maintenance.

With PPM, a leaking pipe can cost building owners 1000 litres of water an hour

2. Time Efficiency

There will never be an end to your property’s to-do list. There’s always something else that you can add to the to-do list. PPM streamlines and automates a big portion of that list for you.

By planning your maintenance, you also minimise needless calls to vendors as a reaction to an unforeseen failure. Unexpected equipment failures often result in unplanned overtime, expedited fees for needed parts, and impact on building occupants.

60% of companies associate preventive maintenance with better productivity and over 60% with decreased downtime and improved safety.

3. Equipment Life Extended

The fastest way to ensure your equipment fails is to wait until it’s broken to fix it. While some breakdowns may be unavoidable, a 2018 study found that nearly 45% of unscheduled equipment downtime was from ageing equipment. This is down from 50% in the 2106 report, which is an indicator that PPM is becoming more the industry norm.

Avoid downtime by scheduling maintenance through work order management

Roughly 10% of facility equipment ever actually wears out, meaning a very large portion of mechanical failures are avoidable. Prolonging the life of your equipment also reduces capital expenses giving more time between replacing expensive equipment.

4. Enhanced Workplace Safety and Compliance

An underlying benefit of deploying PPM with your Facilities Management Software is improving the safety of your work environment. As equipment starts to fail, it can pose potential risks to your workspace. For example, a ventilation system that is not maintained could lead to gas buildup. Or excessive condensation or leaking can result in pooled water with a potential slip-and-fall hazard.

Additionally, OSHA requires companies to have some kind of maintenance plan in place. Having regular inspections and performing routine maintenance makes sure that equipment doesn’t break down as often, eliminating potential risks.

Why Some Facility Managers Don’t Choose a PPM Plan

Just because something works doesn’t mean that everyone will do it. Several factors come into play when deciding whether or not to use a PPM plan.

Surprisingly, a lot of companies still use spreadsheets to monitor their equipment and manage maintenance operations. When you have a way that you’ve been doing maintenance for so long, sometimes just the thought of something new can be intimidating.

Costly Upfront Cost & Ongoing Service Fees

While cost savings are one of the biggest benefits of PPM, the initial investment is often one of the biggest drawbacks. Once you find the right program you have to pay an upfront cost to buy it. Purchasing the program includes access to the proprietary program, implementation, and training.

Also, there are ongoing service fees. While significantly lower than the initial costs, they still impact your budget. Once you get your schedule implemented and running, the monthly service fees will start. These fees cover data storage, customer service, and changes required in the system as your company’s needs change.

Extensive Planning & Information Gathering

Another reason PPM fails to get implemented is the amount of planning and information gathering it takes to get your company’s information into the program. First, all information is gathered that will be included in the program. Things like make and model of equipment, serial number, location, basic specifications and capabilities, category (HVAC, plumbing, etc.), and other details that are beneficial to the care and upkeep of equipment.

At the same time these details are being gathered, you’re also working with the implementation team to customise how the plan will work for your business. What the workflows are, who is responsible for what, escalation procedures, and more.

This alone can deter even the most gung-ho facilities manager from starting the process.

Over-Maintaining Equipment

Sometimes, by scheduling regular maintenance solely based on a schedule, you can potentially over-maintain equipment and asset performance can be calculated incorrectly.

There’s also a risk of going overboard with unnecessary money spent on precautions that aren’t needed. One way to solve this is to change your maintenance plan to check specific equipment or areas less frequently, while still maintaining a schedule.

It’s important to strike a balance between failure prevention and reactive repair work.

Alternative Strategies for Your Building Maintenance

Corrective Maintenance

Also known as reactive maintenance, run-to-failure, or breakdown maintenance; a corrective maintenance strategy waits to perform any maintenance until after the equipment fails. You don’t even look at the equipment until it breaks down or a major part malfunctions.

This type of approach to maintaining your space ends up being very costly. The Aberdeen Group calculates that unplanned equipment downtime costs, on average, £198,980 an hour.

PRO: Minimal planning required
CON: Can be extremely costly

Periodic Maintenance

Periodic maintenance is a time-based plan, where maintenance is performed in intervals either annually, quarterly, monthly, or weekly. The frequency of service is usually defined by maintenance managers, however, most manufacturers include how often to inspect assets and the average life of each part in equipment manuals.

This process ensures that company assets remain in good condition throughout their useful life. It is based on the fixed maintenance schedule for assets like equipment, machinery, and vehicles.

PRO: Usually made up of tasks that don’t require extensive training
CON: Planning time is required

Predictive Maintenance

Instead of reacting to failures or potential failures, predictive maintenance uses process data and advanced analytics to predict mechanical failures ahead of time. By using sensor data, engineers can monitor the condition of assets in real-time. Maintenance is then performed as needed to keep the equipment operational.

The goal is also to predict how the condition of the equipment will change over time and when the asset will reach a breaking point. Smart systems like this and PPM allow the collection of data in real-time. The data is then analysed and the next steps are determined, based on the data.

PRO: Likelihood of equipment failure reduced
CON: Higher upfront costs

Condition Monitoring

Condition monitoring is the process of monitoring conditions such as vibration and temperature to identify changes that could indicate a potential problem.

Monitoring the condition of assets is essential to minimising failure and downtime, prompting action to be taken and limited service interruption. Maintenance is performed on asset conditions. The goal of condition monitoring is to perform maintenance the moment before the equipment fails.

PRO: Problems with equipment are identified before failure occurs
CON: Installation costs

Summary: Why PPM Is Right for Your Facility Management

You’ve made it this far, and hopefully, you have a better understanding of what PPM is, why people do or do not use it, and some other types of maintenance plans out there. I know, it’s a lot. But once you wrap your head around it, it’s a no brainer.

The bottom line is that equipment will break. Having a PPM simply decreases the risk and allows you to plan for repairs before you reach the point of total equipment failure.

A well designed planned preventative maintenance strategy will save you time and money, mitigate expensive repairs and costly breakdowns, and help prolong the life of your property assets and buildings.

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