What Is Preventive Maintenance?
As a facility owner or asset manager, maintenance is one of the most important aspects of your job. Maintenance keeps your facility or asset in working order and running efficiently. Without it, your property would fall into disrepair, costing you money in repairs and replacements.
There are two types of maintenance: preventive and reactive maintenance.
Preventive maintenance is a scheduled service that is performed regularly to prevent problems before they occur. Reactive maintenance is repair work that is done after something breaks.
So, What Is Preventive Maintenance, Exactly?
Preventive maintenance–sometimes called preventative maintenance–is a proactive approach to maintaining facilities, equipment and systems.
It involves scheduled service performed on a piece of equipment or property to prevent problems before they occur. It is usually done at regular intervals, such as monthly or yearly.
downtime and the consequent disruption to business operations. In addition, preventive maintenance can help extend the equipment's or facility's lifespan and improve its overall performance.
Preventive or Preventative Maintenance?
There's no difference between "preventive" and "preventative" maintenance. They're both adjectives that imply "used to prevent something harmful from happening." Both words are commonly used in maintenance, healthcare, and security contexts.
However, "preventive" is the more popular spelling. And while neither is grammatically incorrect, preventive maintenance is the professional term that is used more often in business contexts—"preventative maintenance" is more of a colloquialism.
Preventive Maintenance vs. Reactive Maintenance
Reactive maintenance is a form of corrective maintenance. It is performed after equipment breaks down or fails. It is the opposite of preventive maintenance because it only fixes the problem after it occurs.
Reactive maintenance is often considered a Band-Aid solution because it does not address the root cause of the problem. In addition, reactive maintenance can be expensive because it requires emergency repairs and replacements.
Preventive maintenance is a proactive maintenance approach to maintaining equipment and systems. It involves scheduled service performed on a piece of equipment or property to prevent problems before they occur.
How Does Preventive Maintenance Work?
Preventive maintenance is planned and scheduled using real-time data insights, frequently utilizing a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS).
Engineers can use predictive analytics, machine learning, operational data, and asset health monitoring to optimize maintenance and minimize operational risks across facilities and organizations.
To generate a maintenance schedule, a CMMS looks at data points such as equipment age and usage, past maintenance history, and operator input.
This schedule is then used to plan and budget for future preventive maintenance tasks.
Preventive maintenance software automatically generates work orders and sends them to the appropriate technicians. The technician then completes the work order, which is logged in the system for future reference.
For example, if an inspection of a piece of equipment reveals that a certain part is wearing out faster than expected, the software can schedule a replacement before the part fails and causes downtime.
Why Is Preventive Maintenance Important?
Since preventive maintenance is, by nature, a proactive approach to asset maintenance, it can help avoid many of the problems associated with reactive maintenance.
A well-designed preventive maintenance program can improve equipment reliability, increase uptime, and extend the life of facility equipment. It can also reduce the need for repairs and the associated costs.
When properly implemented, a preventive maintenance program can help to ensure that equipment is properly maintained and operating at peak efficiency.
And by catching small problems before they become big ones, you can avoid the disruption and cost of unplanned downtime.
Benefits of preventive maintenance include:
- Improved equipment reliability
- Increased uptime
- Extended equipment life
- Reduced need for repairs
- Reduced cost of ownership
Why You Need a Preventive Maintenance Schedule
An effective preventive maintenance program is a proactive maintenance approach that helps avoid costly repairs and reduce downtime. But to be effective, preventive maintenance requires some planning and preparation.
One of the most important tools businesses can use for this is preventive maintenance schedules. A preventive maintenance schedule outlines when each task should be performed and who is responsible for completing it.
By following a schedule, businesses can ensure that all equipment is regularly inspected and maintained, preventing small problems from becoming major issues.
In addition, a schedule can help to identify trends over time, allowing businesses to make changes to their operations to prevent future problems.
Tips for Creating a Preventive Maintenance Schedule
When creating a preventive maintenance schedule, there are a few things to keep in mind:
- Inspections should be conducted regularly, at least once per month (though this varies from business to business).
- Inspections should be conducted by trained and certified personnel.
- All equipment should be included in the schedule, even if it is new or has never been used.
- All equipment should be included in the schedule, regardless of its age or condition.
- Each maintenance task should be included, regardless of how small it may seem.
- The schedule should be reviewed and updated regularly to reflect changes in equipment or operations.
Types of Preventive Maintenance Operations
There are six main types of preventive maintenance that most organizations use:
- Time-Based Preventive Maintenance
Time-based preventive maintenance is the most basic type of preventative maintenance. With time-based maintenance, assets are serviced at regular intervals, regardless of whether they show signs of wear or not.
This approach to preventative maintenance is typically used for low-cost assets that are easy to service, such as vehicles or office equipment.
The main advantage of this approach is that it is simple to implement and does not require the use of sophisticated data analysis.
However, the main disadvantage is that it can result in assets being serviced more frequently than necessary, which can be costly and time-consuming.
Here are a few examples of how time-based preventive maintenance can be used:
- A vehicle might be serviced every six months or every 12,000 miles, whichever comes first.
- A printer might be serviced every three months.
- A computer might be serviced every six months.
Condition-based monitoring is a form of preventive maintenance that involves monitoring the status of the asset to determine what type of maintenance it requires and when it needs it.
This approach can be used for both mechanical and electrical assets, and it can effectively reduce downtime and improve asset lifespan.
Condition-based monitoring is typically performed using sensors, which can take measurements such as vibration, temperature, or current. These measurements can then be analyzed to identify potential problems.
In some cases, condition-based monitoring may also involve visual inspections.
Signs you could look for during a visual inspection include:
- Rust, leaks, or cracks
- Temperature changes
- Bent or broken parts
- Worn-out components
- Missing or loose parts
- Debris build-up
- Excessive vibration
- Unusual sounds
Also called meter-based maintenance, performance-based maintenance is a type of preventive maintenance that uses data from the asset to determine when it needs to be serviced.
This approach is typically used for electrical assets, such as generators or motors.
With performance-based maintenance, businesses can track the performance of their assets over time and identify when they need to be serviced.
This information can be used to create a maintenance schedule, or it can be used to determine when to expect equipment failure.
Performance-based maintenance can also be used to identify trends in asset performance. Organizations can then use this information to make changes to the way the asset is operated or maintained, which can help to improve its performance and extend its lifespan.
Maintenance tasks under this kind of preventive maintenance include:
- Swapping out machinery parts every X hours or days of operation
- Inspecting equipment for wear and tear after X number of hours or days of operation
- Cleaning or replacing filters regularly
- Lubricating moving parts X times per month
- Tightening bolts and checking fluid levels
- Calibrating or realigning machinery components
- Changing out fluids, such as coolant or hydraulic fluid
- Replacing belts, hoses, or other consumable items as they wear down
- Monitoring equipment performance data
Failure-finding maintenance is a type of preventive maintenance that focuses on testing components to make sure they still work.
This approach is typically used for mechanical assets, such as pumps or compressors.
With failure-finding maintenance, a maintenance team can conduct regular inspections of their assets to look for signs of wear or damage. These inspections can be conducted manually or with the help of sensors.
Common examples of this form of preventive maintenance include:
- Switching an alarm on and off to check that it still works
- Running a compressor at different pressures to check for leaks
- Checking for cracks in hoses or pipes
- Inspecting electrical connections for loose wires or damaged insulation
- Testing safety valves to make sure they open and close properly
- Conducting regular test runs of machinery
Predictive maintenance is a form of preventive maintenance that uses data to predict when an asset will need to be serviced. Generally, this form of maintenance is very accurate and guided by preventive maintenance software.
The predictive maintenance approach is typically used for mechanical and electrical assets, including motors, generators, pumps, and compressors.
With predictive maintenance, businesses can use data from the asset to create a model that predicts when it will need to be serviced. This information can be used to create usage-based maintenance forecasts or to determine when an asset is due for replacement.
Predictive maintenance can also be used to identify trends in asset performance. Organizations can then use this information to make changes to the way the asset is operated or maintained, which can help to improve its performance and extend its lifespan.
Here are a few predictive maintenance examples:
- Refrigerators: A predictive maintenance program for a refrigerator might use data on the compressor’s runtime, door openings, and temperature to forecast when parts will need replacement.
- HVAC systems: A predictive maintenance program for an HVAC system might use data on the system's runtime, the number of times the system is used, and the room temperature to remind system administrators to perform scheduled maintenance.
- Pumps: A predictive maintenance program for a pump might use thermal sensors to monitor the temperature of the bearings and motor. If the temperature consistently exceeds a certain threshold a certain number of times over a certain period, it could be an indication that the pump is due for maintenance.
This form of planned maintenance is similar to predictive maintenance, but it takes asset data usage to the next level.
Through the use of machine learning and predictive analytics, and AI, prescriptive maintenance can be used to not only predict when an asset will need to be serviced, but also prescribe the best way to service it.
This form of preventive maintenance is typically used for the most critical assets, such as production machinery or power generation equipment.
This form of maintenance is still a growing industry and its costs can be prohibitive for some businesses.
However, the benefits of this type of preventive maintenance–such as reduced downtime and improved asset performance–make it worth considering for organizations with critical equipment and the budget to invest in it.
Here are a few examples of how prescriptive maintenance can be used:
- A production line might be having issues with quality control. The production line’s data could be analyzed to identify the root cause of the problem and prescribe a solution, such as changing the settings on a machine or adjusting the production process.
- A power plant might be struggling to meet its output targets. The plant’s data could be analyzed to identify ways to improve the efficiency of the plant, such as by changing the operating conditions of the turbines or adjusting the fuel mix.
- A wind farm might be underperforming. The data from the wind farm could be analyzed to identify which turbines need to be serviced and when. This information can then be used to create a maintenance schedule that minimizes downtime and the wind farm's output.
How to Create a Preventative Maintenance Workflow
Planning routine maintenance on more intervals isn't always a good idea. In many cases, it's more efficient to carry out periodic maintenance tasks on a set schedule, whether that is more or less often.
The key to creating an effective preventive maintenance workflow is to find the right balance for your organization. You don't want to be over-servicing your assets, but you also don't want to be caught unaware when an issue arises.
There are a few steps you can take to create an effective preventive maintenance plan:
- Define your assets and their criticality
- Collect data on your assets
The first step is to identify which assets are most important to your organization and need to be included in the preventive maintenance plan.
Not all assets are created equal–some are more critical to your operations than others. For example, a production machine might be more critical than an office printer.
Once you've identified your most critical assets, you can start to plan how often they should be serviced.
If an asset has small parts that are subject to wear and tear, it might need to be serviced more often than an asset with no moving parts.
You should also consider the consequences of an asset failure when deciding how often to service it. For example, if an asset failure would cause a production line to shut down, the asset should likely be serviced more often than an asset with a lower consequence of failure.
The next step is to collect data on your assets. This data can be used to help you make decisions about how often to service your assets.
There are a few ways to collect asset life data:
- You can manually track asset data by keeping a log of when each asset was last serviced.
- You can use sensors to collect asset data automatically. For example, you can install vibration sensors on production machines to track their condition and predict when they need to be serviced.
- You can use maintenance software to track asset data. This software can help you track when assets were last serviced and predict when they will need service again.
Once you have data that informs you on what needs maintenance and when, you'll need to get your preventive maintenance resources organized. This includes things like tools, replacement parts, and trained staff.
Some of these resources, such as maintenance personnel, are things your organization may have already. Others, like replacement parts, will need to be procured before you can carry out preventive maintenance.
You should also consider how you will carry out each preventive maintenance task. As a facility manager or operator, ask yourself these questions:
- Will I hire someone internally for this, or will I use maintenance technicians?
- How many units of each component will I need to procure?
- How much will it cost to carry out this preventive maintenance task?
- What are the risks associated with this task?
- How disruptive will this task be to operations?
Once you have answers to these questions, you can start to create a strategy for your preventive maintenance program.
After laying the groundwork, you can start to assemble your preventive maintenance strategy.
There are a few things to consider when creating your strategy:
- Are there any regulatory requirements you need to meet?
- How will you manage multiple preventive maintenance requirements across all of your assets?
- What preventive maintenance types do you need to perform and at what point?
- How will you deploy the resources for each maintenance task cohesively?
- Your answers to these questions will inform your preventive maintenance strategy.
For example, you might decide to create a work order each time an asset is due for preventive maintenance. This work order would be assigned to the appropriate staff member and would include all of the information they need to carry out the task, such as a list of replacement parts.
You might also decide to use sensors to automatically trigger preventive maintenance tasks. For example, you can set up a sensor to trigger a work order when a machine starts vibrating more than usual.
After you've created your PM program, it's time to implement it.
This step will involve creating work orders for each task and scheduling them into your maintenance software.
You should also create checklists or standard operating procedures (SOPs) for each task. This will help ensure that each task is carried out consistently and correctly.
You should also train your staff on how to carry out each task. This training can be done in-person or online.
Once you've implemented your strategy for performing routine maintenance, you should monitor it regularly to ensure that it's working as intended. You can do this by tracking key performance indicators (KPIs) such as downtime, number of work orders, and maintenance costs.
Understanding Preventive Maintenance Software
Managing regular maintenance, equipment downtime, and work order efficiency can be a daunting task. And bringing maintenance teams into it can make it more challenging–but it doesn't have to be.
Preventive maintenance software is designed to help streamline your organization's maintenance work and improve equipment uptime.
This type of software typically includes features such as work order management, asset tracking, and preventive maintenance scheduling.
There are a few main types of preventive maintenance software:
- Computerized Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS)
- Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) Software
- Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Software
Computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS) are enterprise-level software solutions that large organizations typically use.
CMMS software includes work order management, asset tracking, and preventive maintenance scheduling.
One of the main benefits of using CMMS software is that it can be customized to fit your organization's needs.
Another benefit is that CMMS software can be integrated with other business systems, such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) and accounting software.
Its mobile app interface enables users to view and update work orders, schedule preventive maintenance tasks, and track assets from their smartphones or tablets.
EAM software is a type of CMMS software designed specifically for managing equipment assets.
Like CMMS, EAM software includes work order management, asset tracking, and preventive maintenance scheduling features.
One of the main benefits of using EAM software is that it can help you optimize your organization's asset lifecycle.
Another benefit is that EAM software integrates with other business systems, such as ERP and accounting software.
ERP software connects all of the different departments within your organization, including maintenance.
ERP software includes features such as work order management, supply chain insights, asset tracking, and maintenance planning.
One of the main benefits of using ERP software is that it can help improve communication and collaboration between departments.
This is critical because communication within organizations means that everyone knows the equipment's status and can plan accordingly.
Another benefit of ERP software is that it can be customized to fit your organization's specific needs.
For example, you can add accounting, human resources, and customer relationship management modules.
Streamline Preventive Maintenance With Facilitron
Facilitron is a cloud-based, all-in-one solution that helps you streamline your preventive maintenance process.
Facilitron's work order management system enables you to create, assign, and track work orders from start to finish.
Our facility management software lets users view and update work orders, schedule preventive maintenance tasks, and track assets from their smartphones or tablets.
Learn why thousands of schools and facility owners have chosen Facilitron to streamline their preventive maintenance processes.