Most will agree that maintaining company assets is a good thing. However, the question remains, is a preventive maintenance plan the right thing for your company? To begin, let’s explore what preventive maintenance is.
In simple terms, preventive maintenance (or preventative maintenance) is maintenance that is regularly performed on a piece of equipment with the goal of reducing the likelihood of it failing. It involves regular, routine checks, inspections and repairs if needed, to help keep equipment up and running, preventing any unplanned production downtime and expensive costs from unanticipated equipment failure. Preventive maintenance (PM) can be performed on a wide range of equipment that varies depending on the industry involved. The pieces of equipment most typically undergoing routine maintenance regardless of industry or service sector include HVAC, vehicles and computers. The frequency with which preventive maintenance occurs also varies and is largely determined by the type of equipment, its age, its usage and its repair history.
Preventive maintenance is but one approach to asset maintenance. Below are three other maintenance approaches that are differentiated based on the nature of the tasks involved:
Central to deciding if, and what type of PM strategy is needed, is consideration to the size of the operation as well as to the type of assets involved. Small businesses with few pieces of equipment that are best relegated to routine outsourced maintenance may not benefit from an in-house PM program. On the other hand, larger companies with more than 20 monthly work orders and have staff maintenance technicians, will see value in a PM program. When it comes to assessing which assets will benefit most from a PM plan, they are generally those with the following characteristics:
One the other hand, equipment that experiences random failures unrelated to maintenance (i.e., circuit boards) or does not serve a critical function, is less suitable to a PM program. Once all issues have been thoroughly evaluated, a company can then decide on a preferred PM approach be it “pencil and paper”, spreadsheet or a range of approaches using a Computerized Maintenance Management Software (CMMS) system.
CMMSs are well suited toward customizable PMs that incorporate other maintenance approaches. These preventive maintenance software are highly sophisticated packages utilizing thousands of data points that at any given time can provide a user an overview of a facility’s operation as well as the status of an individual piece of equipment. Recent innovations in the software include secure cloud based interfaces, mobile device accessibility and paperless functionality that further increases ease of use. When compared to spreadsheet software, current CMMS softwares are much more robust and offer businesses the ability to track work orders, quickly generate accurate reports, and instantly determine which of their assets requires preventive maintenance or repairs. CMMSs have the ability to create different schedules based on prior equipment maintenance history, maintenance standards for individual assets, inspection times, technician availability, equipment location and production downtimes. By reviewing operational data, modifications can be made to PMs to further improve efficiency while reducing costs. The software’s ability to customize PMs for businesses across all industry and service sectors is what motivates a growing number of companies to make the shift away from other maintenance management approaches.
While the concept of preventive maintenance seems straightforward, the decision about if and how to implement it is less so. Effective planning is a big challenge. It is also a great advantage of preventive maintenance when compared to a reactive maintenance approach that is often associated with many avoidable overhead costs such as lost production, higher costs for parts and shipping, as well as time lost responding to emergencies and diagnosing malfunctions while a piece of equipment is not working. When maintenance is planned, these costs can be reduced. Equipment servicing can be scheduled to coincide with production downtime. Additionally, in anticipation of maintenance, any required parts, supplies and personnel can be gathered to minimize repair time. Finally, technicians can be deployed to service multiple pieces of equipment based on their location within a facility. A customized scheduled PM using a CMMS is well suited to businesses concerned about its bottom line.