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How to Create an Effective Preventative Maintenance Plan

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Optimize equipment, minimize downtime, and enhance operations with key steps and best practices for creating an effective preventative maintenance plan.


Preventive maintenance (PM) plays a crucial role in the operation of any industrial facility. A preventive maintenance program is essential for optimizing overall equipment effectiveness and extending the lifecycle of assets. Proactive routine maintenance prevents unplanned downtime and keeps operations running smoothly.

A preventative maintenance plan helps to reduce costs, minimize downtime, and increase productivity. Effective maintenance planning also makes it easier for maintenance technicians to plan their daily tasks and gives maintenance teams a detailed course of action for the near term and in the long run. 

What is Preventive Maintenance (PM)?

Preventive maintenance is the planned maintenance of equipment and critical assets to reduce the chances of breakdowns and prevent unplanned equipment failure. Regular upkeep of machinery and internal systems before an issue arises helps minimize the likelihood of problems. ServiceChannel offers further reading on what preventive maintenance is and why it matters.

Components of a Preventive Maintenance Plan

There are four primary components to any effective preventative maintenance plan. Different industries will often employ different types of preventive maintenance. These elements are essential in any industry for maintaining an organization’s most critical assets and preventing unplanned downtime during production. 

  • Equipment inventory: Knowing each piece of equipment and critical assets that will benefit from routine maintenance is essential.
  • Procedures: Each critical asset and piece of equipment likely has unique needs and maintenance task requirements for proper upkeep.
  • Schedules: It’s vital to outline how often each piece of equipment will require maintenance, whether you take a time-based approach or base maintenance frequency on operational hours.
  • Maintenance staff: For each piece of equipment and critical asset, determine the skill level needed for regular maintenance. Specialty equipment may require an experienced maintenance technician, while any employee may be sufficient for less complex maintenance tasks.
  • Maintenance resources: Each task will require specific tools, materials, and safety equipment to perform maintenance tasks for each asset.
  • Checklists and documentation: Checklists give maintenance teams a step-by-step process through each maintenance task. Documentation is necessary for logging completed tasks and saving for the official maintenance history record.

Steps in Creating a Preventative Maintenance Plan

An effective preventive maintenance program contributes greatly to the overall stability of an operation. These procedures can help maintenance planners prepare a practical system for performing routine maintenance.

1. List Equipment and Systems

Compile a detailed inventory of all critical assets, equipment, and systems that will need regular maintenance. Note any special requirements and relevant characteristics for each.

2. Prioritize Critical Tasks and Maintenance Frequencies

Develop your preventive maintenance schedules to prioritize your tasks to address your most critical assets first and work down the list in descending order of importance. 

Establish the right maintenance interval for performing planned preventive maintenance tasks on each piece of equipment. For assets that don’t see frequent use, you may want to schedule preventive maintenance according to time intervals, such as weekly, monthly, or even annually. You will likely want to create a preventive maintenance schedule based on a usage basis for frequently used equipment, such as after 100, 500, or 1,000 hours of operation, depending on the stress levels on equipment when running. 

Other preventive maintenance scheduling factors include equipment condition. Even if scheduled maintenance is weeks away, inspecting any assets that aren’t behaving correctly or showing visible signs of damage or deterioration is a good idea. 

3. Determine Maintenance Checklists

Determine specific regular maintenance tasks that are essential for the reliable operation of each asset. Develop checklists that outline required materials and step-by-step maintenance procedures for each. Checklists ensure thoroughness and establish consistency across the maintenance team.

4. Create a Maintenance Schedule

Create a preventive maintenance schedule by breaking down critical assets and equipment schedules by time intervals or by usage, as appropriate. The most critical assets and equipment that see heavy usage will benefit best from regular upkeep after so many hours of operation. Additionally, setting a monthly, quarterly, and annual schedule of preventive maintenance for these assets and equipment you operate less often is helpful. 

5. Assign Tasks and Allocate Resources

When you create a successful preventive maintenance schedule, identify which personnel, tools, and materials a maintenance task requires. Make sure you keep the necessary resources on hand and assign them appropriately. 

  • Personnel: Assign tasks to technicians who are best suited for the task.
  • Tools: These include hand and power tools, as well as necessary instruments such as a multimeter for electronics.
  • Materials: Items such as lubricants, replacement parts, and personal protective equipment (PPE) are some materials to consider for preventive maintenance tasks.

6. Monitor, Review, and Improve the Plan

Continuously track the effectiveness of your maintenance program. Monitor whether teams promptly meet the preventative maintenance schedule and the effectiveness of the fixed preventive maintenance scheduling tasks. Measure against established benchmarks and adjust fixed schedule maintenance processes, frequency, or personnel as appropriate. 

Best Practices for Preventive Maintenance

When your organization implements these best practices, you can develop a plan and preventive maintenance schedule that significantly contributes to your company’s overall operational efficiency.

1. Prioritize Equipment Based on Importance

Critically analyze all assets and equipment. Determine the impact each has on operations and facility safety. Prioritize preventive maintenance for those assets, which could significantly reduce production if there’s a breakdown.

2. Develop Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)

Create clear, detailed, and easily understandable SOPs for performing each preventive maintenance task. As you refine your processes, regularly update SOPs to reflect any changes.

3. Train Maintenance Personnel

Develop a training program to provide the maintenance team with the knowledge and understanding to properly execute your organization’s maintenance plan. Train them on the software and tools involved and communicate expectations regarding preventive maintenance task execution, recording requirements, and documentation specifications.

4. Implement a Tracking System

Establish a system for monitoring equipment performance, tracking preventive maintenance activities, and collecting critical data for analysis. A robust maintenance management software solution such as ServiceChannel is a powerful tool for creating an effective preventive maintenance schedule, monitoring activities, assessing the condition of assets, and gathering valuable data.

Utilizing Technology in Preventative Maintenance

Implement information technology (IT) systems and software that facilitate the proper execution of preventative maintenance duties and documentation of tasks. These technologies are growing in ever-increasing popularity among industries everywhere.

Computerized Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS)

CMMS is powerful software that centralizes maintenance information. It can track the availability of maintenance material inventory, help implement preventive maintenance scheduling, enable facility-wide communication regarding maintenance and preventive maintenance planning, and help coordinate tasks among the maintenance team. 

Internet of Things (IoT)

An IoT system gives equipment access across a facility’s network to communicate with the central maintenance management software and each other. An IoT asset tracking system enables equipment to update the central data center with real-time data and inform maintenance teams of any situations or conditions you must address.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Predictive Maintenance

An effective AI integration lets the system learn the behaviors of assets — usually connected through IoT. By tracking and analyzing breakdowns and root causes, AI can create models to predict certain occurrences effectively. Through these models, AI can help maintenance teams dial in their preventive maintenance schedules, get ahead of situations, and optimize overall operational productivity. 

Getting Started with ServiceChannel

Your organization can get ahead of breakdowns and unplanned downtime by employing powerful preventive maintenance management software like ServiceChannel. Plan preventative maintenance, track valuable data, and perform your operations at peak performance with the right technological tools. Explore what ServiceChannel can do and start on your path to more efficient maintenance today.

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