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What is Preventive Maintenance – And Why It Matters

Modified on

August 15, 2023

Organizations need more than luck and will to keep things running smoothly. Careful planning can prevent many issues for facilities managers. Allowing a piece of machinery to run without regular checks can end with a catastrophic breakdown that stops production and costs you thousands. Preventive maintenance moves past the philosophy of overlooking seemingly minor issues by addressing them before they become significant problems. 

What is Preventive Maintenance? 

A common preventive maintenance definition, also called preventative or planned maintenance, is extending company assets’ life through regularly scheduled maintenance or upkeep. This is often done through regular inspection of your facilities assets.

In addition to inspecting equipment, preventive maintenance includes maintaining accurate records of prior inspections and service reports. The information gives technicians crucial information that helps them figure out when they might need to change parts on specific assets and troubleshoot issues when they crop up. 

Types of Preventive Maintenance 

While different types of preventive maintenance are implemented differently, they each revolve around planning out how to maintain essential equipment within your facilities. 


Time-based maintenance (TPM) is planned upkeep that relies on a schedule outlining when to perform maintenance on a piece of equipment. Any upgrades, patches, or repairs must be scheduled in advance. Organizations must outline a maintenance plan for all parts or assemblies looked at during inspections. 

types of preventive maintenance


Usage-based maintenance (UBM) focuses on how often equipment gets used. UBM planning accounts for the average daily use of an asset and its environmental conditions. That information gets pulled together to set up a forecast of when a company should plan to inspect or perform maintenance on an asset. Going with the usage-based model can save money by keeping organizations from performing unnecessary inspections on lesser-used equipment. 

Benefits of Preventive Maintenance 

benefits of preventive maintenance - lower downtime rates - improved equipment efficiency - safer conditions for workers

1. Lower Downtime Rates 

Every day of production lost by a business because of equipment outages means less money is generated for the company. If you can’t predict when an asset might fail, you’re trapped in reactive maintenance mode. Your business is left with unplanned downtime that can result in missed deadlines and unhappy customers. Preventive maintenance minimizes production time lost and significant impacts on day-to-day operations. 

2. Improved Equipment Efficiency 

Preventive maintenance anticipates equipment’s everyday wear and tear, helping you keep assets in optimal working condition. Replacing parts, refilling fluids, and performing regular inspections helps ensure equipment works as needed during critical periods for an organization. Companies can also improve an asset’s life cycle and improve its overall performance. 

3. Safer Conditions for Workers

Safe working conditions are a top concern for businesses. Regular preventive maintenance for equipment can result in a safer working environment for everyone. Routine checks can uncover potential hazards before they cause harm, leading to fewer work-related injuries. 

Preventive versus Predictive Maintenance 

Many companies rely on a combination of preventive and predictive maintenance to improve the reliability of assets and downtime resulting from equipment failures. Preventive maintenance revolves around the scheduled upkeep of assets. It’s like humans getting a regular medical check every year. You review what’s happening with a piece of equipment even if it doesn’t exhibit any problems. 

While predictive maintenance focuses on certain preset conditions. For example, if a technician notices that an asset is operating abnormally, they would schedule an inspection of the equipment to understand better what’s happening. Predictive maintenance keeps you from “over-maintaining” healthy assets while focusing on those at a higher risk of breaking down. 

Preventive Maintenance by Industry 

Preventive Maintenance by Industry 


Maintaining retail stores involves a lot of moving parts, including keeping the lighting and plumbing in working order and ensuring fire-fighting systems are up to code. Taking a proactive approach to retail stores through preventive maintenance helps owners avoid equipment problems or quality issues that impact the customer experience. 


Preventive maintenance helps restaurant owners stay open by keeping an important asset like a stove from breaking down during the dinner rush. Regular checks of stoves and kitchen equipment ensure they remain in working order. Owners also have a clear understanding of when they need to call in technicians to address issues like cleaning grease traps or making sure refrigerators and freezers are keeping food at the correct temperature. 


In addition to staples, many grocery stores offer prepared foods that customers can come in and grab when they don’t have time to prepare meals. The displays keeping food hot and cold must receive proper upkeep. That means ensuring each asset gets proper maintenance and that there’s no debris trapped that could impact how it functions. 

Other functions that might fall under a grocer’s preventive maintenance plan include the following: 

  • Making sure meat slicers receive a regular cleaning 
  • Ensuring juicers get cleaned on a regular schedule 
  • Planning out shelf restocking 
  • Making sure the air filters and condenser coils on refrigerated units get scheduled for maintenance Checking the exhaust and blower motor fans on an oven 
  • Keeping floor cleaning equipment in stock 

Financial Services 

Having accurate information available is key to keeping financial operations running smoothly. Preventive maintenance helps those working in finance track data around work orders, money paid out for repairs, and how well your preventive maintenance program saves on operational costs. Companies with a good grasp of what they’re paying out in maintenance costs can set up more accurate budgeting for those expenditures. 

Using Preventive Maintenance Software 

Tracking the details around maintaining assets can quickly become very complicated if you’re trying to keep up with everything in a spreadsheet. That’s why most companies use a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) to track the various workflows associated with preventive maintenance programs. 

CMMS tools help companies move away from only investing in maintenance when something goes wrong with their equipment. Teams can set calendars, assign tasks, and track the progress being made in achieving target key performance indicators (KPIs). CMMS software helps users establish consistency in sustaining preventive maintenance processes. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

Why is preventive maintenance important? 

Preventive maintenance helps companies avoid downtime caused by unexpected asset breakdowns, which saves on operational and maintenance costs in the long run. 

Will preventive maintenance eliminate all breakdowns?

Preventive maintenance can’t stop companies from experiencing equipment failures. However, they can get ahead of many potential catastrophes through regularly scheduled checks of valuable assets, allowing them to fix minor issues before they balloon into major problems. 

What is the difference between preventive and reactive maintenance? 

Preventive maintenance focuses on scheduling repairs and servicing assets on a schedule, regardless of if they exhibit problems. Predictive maintenance focuses on checking equipment most likely to end up having issues that affect the company.

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