What Is Preventive Maintenance?

Your equipment is the backbone of your business, and it can be challenging to keep it working at all times. 



Fortunately, a preventive maintenance process can help you maintain your assets efficiently. 



In this guide, you'll discover all you need to know about preventive maintenance to prevent downtime, reduce costs, improve safety, and extend asset lifetime.

What is preventive maintenance?

What Is Preventive Maintenance?

Preventive maintenance (PM), also known as preventative maintenance, is the proactive maintenance of assets through regular cleaning, lubrication, inspection, and parts replacements. PM can reduce equipment downtime and keep surprise repairs at bay. Maintenance teams must perform PM promptly and document processes thoroughly to run a successful program.

Types of Preventive Maintenance

There are two main types of preventive maintenance: calendar-based maintenance, and usage-based maintenance.

Calendar-Based Maintenance

Calendar-based maintenance (also called time-based or periodic maintenance) is the most common type of PM. It requires software to set up a recurring, time-based maintenance schedule. Depending on the type of asset, intervals may be weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annually.

Usage-Based Maintenance

Usage-based maintenance (also called meter-based maintenance) relies on how much a company uses an asset rather than the time passed to determine PM checks. An operator will log meter readings in a company’s PM software, and when the equipment reaches specified measurements, the software automatically creates a task for a routine check.


What Assets Require Preventive Maintenance?

To create a preventive maintenance plan, you first need to know which assets require it.

You can identify those pieces of equipment (and their detailed PM information) by reviewing each asset's original equipment manufacturer (OEM) manual. Gather those instructions and incorporate them into your maintenance program.

Beyond the OEM manual, a few additional factors can help you determine which assets require PM and why, how, and when to perform it:

Critical Equipment

These assets must receive PM, as their reliability drives your entire operation. Identify which equipment is vital and contact the manufacturer for the maintenance instructions if you don't already have them from the OEM.

Hazardous Applications

Assets with a perceived safety risk are also essential to care for with PM. Conduct routine checks and inspections to gather valuable information about the safety state of these assets.

Equipment With a Failure Mode

Equipment with failure modes are good candidates for PM because you can identify the paths a machine may take towards failure and build your program to minimize this risk.

Assets With Predictable Failure

Certain components have massive historical data that can quantify the likelihood of failure—such as the amount of usage. Scheduling servicing tasks at calculated milestones for these assets is a good use of PM resources.

Materials With Low Random Failure Risk

While some failures are predictable, other types of materials are more spontaneous in their failure patterns. High random failure risk assets might not be suitable for PM—especially if corrective maintenance is not particularly difficult or expensive. Focus PM efforts where you can reasonably expect to prevent an issue.


Why Is Preventive Maintenance Important?

Preventive maintenance is essential because it keeps all assets working safely and efficiently, protecting your employees and business—which might be why 88% of plants practice it. A good PM program helps you expedite the data collection, planning, and tasks involved in PM, ensuring your maintenance team can complete work orders quickly.

Whether you have one company location or one thousand, a PM program can help you:

  • Reduce costs of asset repairs and avoid expensive downtime.

  • Improve safety due to well-maintained equipment.

  • Extend asset lifetime and decrease the need for costly emergency replacements.

  • Increase productivity due to reduced downtime and guesswork.

Understanding the benefits of PM can help you determine how it would impact your facility regarding daily tasks and big-picture results.


Advantages of Preventive Maintenance

Preventive maintenance software helps track, organize, and document the preventive Here's a deeper dive into the critical advantages of a preventive maintenance program and how they impact organizations.

Reduce Costs

PM increases savings by allowing companies to anticipate repairs needed in the near future. This preparation reduces unplanned downtime and corrective repairs, which can be more costly than planned maintenance.

Improve Safety

The price of employee safety is never too high. PM keeps equipment in good order and running as expected, reducing accidents and malfunctions that could injure employees.

Extend Asset Lifetime

Equipment and machinery don't live forever. A planned maintenance approach maximizes an asset's value by ensuring it gets the proper care to meet (and possibly exceed) its projected life expectancy.

Increase Productivity

It's easy to see how a robust PM plan increases productivity by reducing downtime that results from asset failures. It also saves your maintenance team time due to less guesswork, troubleshooting, and repetition.

Disadvantages of Preventive Maintenance

While there are benefits to improving your maintenance processes with a preventive maintenance program, there are several challenges or disadvantages you may run into. Here's how to be ready for each one.

More Required Resources

A PM program may require more staff, parts, and time since you complete more maintenance procedures throughout the year. Depending on your company's complexity, you may focus preventive maintenance on business-critical assets.

Up-front Costs

PM requires an up-front and ongoing investment. It might seem unnecessary if your facility has no significant equipment issues, but those costs almost always prevent higher, unexpected expenses later.

Possibility of Over-Maintenance

The costs of a PM program can sometimes outweigh its benefits if you're doing too much preventive work. 

Some maintenance issues aren't as threatening to your operations as others, and if you're putting resources into preventing every conceivable type of problem, you may be wasting resources on PM. It's essential to strike a balance between failure prevention and reactive repair work.


Examples of Preventive Maintenance

Every facility has unique features that will make its PM plans slightly different. Additionally, not all equipment needs maintenance (ex: replacing a light bulb). Your necessary activities will vary depending on the equipment you maintain, how you use it, and your facility's environment. 

However, there are a few examples of maintenance processes that are common across plants and industries: 

  • Cleaning

  • Lubrication

  • Replacing or repairing parts

  • Partial or complete overhauls

  • Inspecting for efficient, proper, and compliant operation

These tasks may sound straightforward, but you can find the benefits of PM in how you monitor, schedule, and execute these tasks. Not every asset maintenance approach follows the same strategy as PM.


Preventive Maintenance vs. Corrective Maintenance

Corrective maintenance, also known as reactive maintenance, is the process of making repairs once issues occur. A maintenance team performs corrective maintenance when an asset breaks down or operates poorly. Downtime always happens with this method, but it doesn't require the upfront investment of a PM program.


Preventive Maintenance vs. Predictive Maintenance

Rather than using time passed or usage to trigger work orders, predictive maintenance relies on real-time data from industrial internet of things (IIoT) devices. 

Predictive maintenance establishes baselines of optimal performance, then uses IIoT devices to sync with software and trigger work orders. The most common measurement methods are vibration, acoustic, and infrared analysis.


Software for Preventive Maintenance

While collecting, analyzing, coordinating, and executing preventive maintenance tasks may seem like a lot of work, the right PM software can significantly simplify the coordination of these tasks.

High-quality PM software can collect and track PM requirements, making it easy to manage work orders, inspection records, and supply inventory. It can also help you streamline and execute your tasks based on your facility’s unique operational needs. 

With the proper support, PM can be simple, dynamic, and effective—anything but overwhelming. Taking the time to research and evaluate the optimal software for your organization will help you organize processes and maximize the benefits of PM.


Avoid Costly Downtime With Preventive Maintenance

Leading a facility maintenance program comes with significant responsibilities. Expensive and complex issues like equipment downtime and workplace safety can be challenging, but support is available. 

A preventive maintenance program can help your organization take control of these problems, resulting in reduced costs, extended asset lifetime, and increased uptime. 

If you're ready to start mapping out or improving your preventive maintenance program, download The Ultimate Guide to Preventive Maintenance from UpKeep today.

The Ultimate Guide to Preventive Maintenance

In this guide, we'll take you through everything you need to know to start or improve a preventive maintenance program at your organization.
Download Guide

Preventive Maintenance vs. Reliability-Centered Maintenance

Although both corrective maintenance strategies have the same end goals, they approach assigning maintenace tasks differently.
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