What Is PPM: A Guide to Planned Maintenance Scheduling In Facilities

To encourage a long healthy life, we engage in regular check-ups, tune-ups, and minor adjustments. Apply this logic to the equipment in a facility and it is referred to as planned preventative maintenance – or PPM.

The increasing desire for a PPM facility maintenance strategy comes down to reducing costs. Poor maintenance strategies are eating into FM’s budgets, averaging $50 billion a year. Looking ahead, it doesn’t seem to be easing. UK facility maintenance costs are predicted to rise by 22% between 2022-2027.

The most effective way to stay on top of rising building maintenance spend to by deploying a planned preventive maintenance system. In the last year, over 1800 Facilities Management Software buyers who used Comparesoft claimed planned and preventive maintenance to be their number one FM requirement.

“Planning is probably the most powerful tool you’re ever going to have in maintenance”

Kamran R. Zamir on the Comparesoft Podcast

What is PPM (Planned Preventative Maintenance)?

Planned preventative maintenance (PPM) is a proactive maintenance strategy that prevents unexpected equipment and machinery failures through regular scheduled inspections, services, and repairs. Which is why it is also referred to as scheduled maintenance.

The concept of PPM is to ensure equipment is in working order for as long as possible by regularly planning maintenance and checks, instead of waiting for equipment to fail. The goal is to catch an issue or potential hazard before it’s too late.

A PPM schedule aims to combat issues such as ageing equipment, unplanned downtime, and unexpected maintenance costs.

Facility managers use a planned maintenance program for a mixture of hard and soft FM tasks to ensure the upkeep of:

The alternative to a PPM system is reactive maintenance, which has a 40% higher cost expectancy due to downtime and emergency repair costs.

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The Benefits of Deploying a PPM Schedule

Lower Facility Maintenance Costs

One key benefit of PPM is reducing building maintenance costs. While a planned preventative maintenance system is an investment upfront, the annualised savings have proven to reduce overall maintenance costs. It can reduce reactive maintenance costs by 12-18%.

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

Extending the Life of Equipment

While some breakdowns may be unavoidable, a 2018 study found that nearly 45% of unscheduled equipment downtime was due to ageing equipment. This is down from 50% in the 2016 report, which indicates that PPM is becoming more of the industry norm.

Avoid downtime by scheduling maintenance through work order management

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

Focus on Workplace Safety

An underlying benefit of a PPM system is improving the health and safety of the work environment. As equipment fails, it can pose potential risks to a workspace.
For example, a ventilation system that is not maintained could lead to gas buildup. Excessive condensation and 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. Regular inspections and routine maintenance eliminate potential risks.

Building Compliance

In manufacturing facilities, 30% of all work-related deaths can be traced back to poor maintenance activities. Essentially, preventive maintenance is important for lowering the risk of workplace accidents, but it’s also compulsory for building operations to comply with specific laws and standards.

Routine maintenance in built environments is carried out on fire alarm systems, air ventilation equipment, water and waste systems, and so on.

There are several compliance standards in place that building owners and facility managers must adhere to, notably;

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Examples of Planned Preventive Maintenance In Facilities

PPM In Office Buildings

An example of deploying planned preventive maintenance in office buildings is the upkeep of HVAC systems. Doing so will improve air quality, extend the lifespan of your HVAC unit, and reduce its energy consumption.

Working HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) units are essential for improving employee productivity while impacting health and well-being in the workplace. 97% of office workers believe that good indoor air quality (IAQ) – which is a by-product of a working ventilation unit – contributes to greater productivity levels.

The regular maintenance of HVAC systems includes:

  • Monthly inspections of filters, thermostats, and parts
  • Quarterly checks to inspect coils and refrigerant levels, and looking for general wear and tear
  • Yearly services for duct cleaning, topping up lubrication levels, and inspecting electrical components

PPM In Housing and Residential

Planned maintenance activities ensure residential and housing facilities remain in good condition. This provides a safe living environment for occupants. PPM activities will include:

  • Inspecting roofs
  • Replacing doors and windows
  • Servicing and maintaining boilers/heating systems
  • Inspecting electrics

One example is the preventive maintenance of a building roof. The main benefits of this are to prevent leaks and water damage, extend the lifespan of roofing material, and ensure the safety of residents.

Monthly, quarterly and, annual inspections are carried out to check visible damage to roof tiles, ensure gutters are clear of debris and leaves, check for damage to downpipes, and apply protective treatments.

PPM In Education Facilities

The main focus of facility maintenance strategies in schools is to provide exceptional health and safety to teachers and pupils. A planned maintenance approach can be applied to the upkeep of a school’s fire safety systems, which is essential in the event of an emergency.

Regular maintenance checks would include:

  • Inspecting fire extinguishers
  • Testing fire alarms weekly
  • Ensuring fire exit doors are properly lit
  • Checking sprinkle systems are connected
  • Inspecting fire safety doors and exits
  • Annually servicing smoke detectors, alarm systems, and fire safety equipment

The Challenges of PPM In Facilities

The type of maintenance you deploy depends on the objective of the building. For instance, facilities management in an educational setting will focus on maintenance that improves the health and safety of its surroundings for pupils and teachers.

Whereas an office will deploy maintenance strategies to boost employee well-being and productivity.

On the surface, PPM is the obvious choice for most facility managers. But, like most things, it has distinct challenges:

High Upfront Costs

While cost savings are one of the biggest benefits of PPM, the initial investment is often a drawback. Purchasing a system includes access to the proprietary program, implementation, and training. While significantly lower than the initial costs, they still impact your budget.

Once the system is up and running, the monthly service fees begin. These fees cover data storage, customer service, and changes required in the system as your company’s needs change.

Extensive Planning & Information Gathering

Firstly, all data needs to be gathered, whether manually or through IoT devices. This includes the make and model of equipment, serial numbers, locations, basic specifications and capabilities, and categories (HVAC, plumbing, etc.).

At the same time, 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, 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.

How PPM Compares to Other Facility Maintenance Strategies

Reactive Maintenance

Also known as corrective maintenance, run-to-failure, or breakdown maintenance; a corrective maintenance strategy waits to perform 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 can be costly. The Aberdeen Group calculates that unplanned equipment downtime costs, on average, £198,980 an hour.

PRO: Minimal planning required
CON: Can be 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 facility managers, however, most manufacturers include a recommended length of time to inspect assets. This process ensures that building equipment remains in good condition throughout its useful life.

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

Condition-Based Maintenance

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 limiting service interruption.

Maintenance is performed on asset conditions with the goal being to perform maintenance the moment before the equipment fails.

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