Want to build a great preventive maintenance program, but don’t know where to start? Here are 8 tips to set you up for success.
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What is a preventive maintenance program?
A preventive maintenance program is a series of processes, guidelines, and tools for conducting regular and routine maintenance on equipment and assets to keep them in good condition so as to avoid failure and costly unplanned downtime.
Preventive maintenance and planning fit together perfectly, just like salt and pepper, Batman and Robin, and movies and popcorn. That’s because in order for a preventive maintenance program to succeed, it requires a solid blueprint.
For facilities looking to break out of a reactive maintenance rut, a preventive maintenance plan can do wonders. Having a roadmap to preventive maintenance allows your operation to conquer unplanned downtime while staving off the temptation to fall back into a reactive approach.
A PM plan makes everything clearer so the path to reliability is obstacle-free. Goals and responsibilities are defined, timelines are understood and necessary resources are accounted for. Everyone knows what success looks like and how to sustain it.
What is preventive maintenance?
Preventive maintenance is proactive maintenance that is regularly performed on a piece of equipment in working condition to prevent unplanned failure or breakdown maintenance. Preventive maintenance is triggered for an asset based on time or usage. For example, if an asset has operated for 100 hours, a preventive maintenance work order will be automatically triggered. The goal is to increase asset reliability, reduce downtime and maximize the impact of costs and labor.
For facilities looking to break out of a reactive maintenance rut, a preventive maintenance plan can do wonders. Having a roadmap allows your operation to conquer unplanned downtime while staving off the temptation to fall back into a reactive approach.
Transitioning from predominantly reactive maintenance activity to a mostly preventive one takes time, dedication, resources and, most importantly, a plan. Achieving a successful preventive maintenance program means creating a preventive maintenance schedule and sticking to it. It means a reduction in unplanned downtime, backlog, miscommunication, accidents and the corrective maintenance costs associated with each. At the end of the day, preventive maintenance will help you conquer inefficiency and improve your maintenance program from top to bottom.
Learn how to build a balanced maintenance strategy
What should a preventive maintenance plan include?
A preventive maintenance plan should include eight steps at its foundation:
- Establish and prioritize goals
- Create and measure KPIs
- Get stakeholder buy-in
- Use the right technology/software
- Set up PM triggers
- Train maintenance workers on how to implement the preventive maintenance plan
- Build a preventive maintenance checklist
- Fine-tune your plan based on results
We’ll take you through each step in detail.
How to create a preventive maintenance program in eight steps
Each and every facility is different, with different goals, assets and resources. That’s why there is no one-size-fits-all approach to creating a preventive maintenance program. However, by using these eight important elements, you can build an effective blueprint for success. Following this template for a preventive maintenance plan will go a long way to making your operation more efficient and sustainable.
1. Establish and prioritize goals
The first step in building a successful preventive maintenance program is to sit down and lay out what you want to achieve. Every facility has different goals and those goals influence all future decisions. Do you want to reduce downtime? Increase reliability? Cut costs? Think about the reasons for wanting to create a structured PM program and write them down.
Next, it’s time to prioritize your goals. Let’s face it, you’re always busy, and implementing a preventive maintenance plan is another huge project to add to your to-do list. With everything that’s going on, it’s nearly impossible to go full steam ahead on all your goals. By prioritizing, you know where to focus your attention and resources first when establishing a blueprint for preventive maintenance. One effective way to do this is to prioritize your assets with an asset criticality assessment. That way, you can realistically limit the scope of specific goals (like reduced downtime) to provide the greatest impact.
With those tasks firmly underway, you can begin the next step in your plan.
Make prioritization easier with our free Asset Criticality Assessment Template
2. Create KPIs and commit to measuring them
Now that your goals are organized, it’s important to attach numbers to them. It’s hard to know if a preventive maintenance program is working without establishing concrete targets. There are a variety of maintenance metrics out there that your operation can use to measure your performance. Some common ones are scheduled maintenance critical percent, planned maintenance percentage, preventive maintenance compliance, overall equipment effectiveness, and mean time between failure. Preventive maintenance software like a computerized maintenance management system will be able to help you calculate these metrics with ease.
One important note: it’s a good idea to include a mix of both leading and lagging KPIs. Leading indicators attempt to extrapolate from your current data to predict the future, while lagging indicators look backwards to confirm trends and the effects of process changes.
Once you know which KPIs you’ll be using to define the success, the next step is to create a framework for consistently measuring these metrics. Stats are only valuable if you are consistently using them to improve the preventive maintenance plan. It’s crucial to build processes and procedures that ensure data is collected, analyzed, understood and actioned on a regular basis. This way, you will know if you are meeting your goals and where your strengths and weaknesses lie.
Create the perfect maintenance goals and KPIs with this free template
3. Obtain buy-in from stakeholders
It doesn’t matter how much time you’ve put into your preventive maintenance program if you don’t have your entire team on board. Total buy-in is crucial as an effective PM strategy requires everyone to chip in, from a maintenance manager or technician who must input data to a reliability engineer who reads that data and makes decisions based on it. What seem like small details add up to make a big difference. That’s why establishing the concept of total productive maintenance is so important to creating a strategy that works.
Getting buy-in from all stakeholders for a preventive maintenance plan includes having discussions about goals, skill sets, needs, resources and more with each member of the team. It’s especially critical to take end users (operators, technicians, etc.) into account when developing PMs and wording the work instructions, as they’re the ones actually doing the work—they must find the instructions clear and accurate!
4. Leverage the right technology
Technology is one of the most important ingredients for an effective PM strategy. Leveraging a digital solution allows you to efficiently arrange all the smaller preventive maintenance tasks required for your facility to embrace a PM mindset, such as scheduling, inventory maintenance management, reporting and organizing work orders. If your facility operates on a legacy system, such as pen and paper or Excel, now is the time to plan for a transition to a digital solution.
There are several factors that must be considered when choosing the right technology for a preventive maintenance program, including the skillset of your team, budget, asset capabilities, team preference, data security and more. One of the most important things to remember when looking for preventive maintenance technology, such as a CMMS, is ease of use. If a system is too hard to understand and use properly, it will not be used effectively and all the time and money invested in the solution will be for naught.
5. Make sure your PM triggers are accurate
Because all effective PMs are built on accurate triggers, this is a crucial step in building a preventive maintenance plan. Matching maintenance tasks with the right trigger will help your operation flow efficiently and will ensure assets are as reliable as possible. These triggers should also be known by all members of the maintenance team so no maintenance task falls through the cracks. Automated scheduling and mobile notifications are two tools that make this simple to do.
It doesn’t matter how much time you’ve put into your preventive maintenance program if you don’t have your entire team on board. Total buy-in is crucial as an effective PM strategy requires everyone to chip in, from technicians to reliability engineers.
When defining a preventive maintenance trigger for an asset, it’s important to look at a few variables. This includes the manufacturers recommended guidelines, the performance history of the asset, how critical the asset is to production, the cost of repair vs. maintenance and the projected future use of the asset. It’s also highly recommended to conduct a root cause analysis (RCA) when an asset fails so you can refine the PM triggers and frequencies to prevent such failure modes from occurring in the future.
When you take all these elements into account, you should have a good idea of when to trigger maintenance for a particular piece of equipment. This number should be fine-tuned moving forward to optimize your preventive maintenance. One last note: To streamline the process from PM trigger to work order creation, you can also consider implementing condition-based maintenance by integrating your sensors with your CMMS!
6. Train and implement
At this point in your quest for an effective preventive maintenance program, you probably know what needs to be done and how it needs to be done. Your team, on the other hand, probably does not. It’s important to remember this and create a training strategy so everyone can get up to speed on proper equipment maintenance. A key component of this strategy is the creation of clear work instructions documenting how to perform PM tasks, as well as any tools and equipment required. Team members should also be trained on any processes and procedures that go along with a shift to preventive maintenance, such as prioritizing work orders, creating failure codes, and accessing documents digitally.
The obvious next step is to implement your preventive maintenance plan. If preventive maintenance is something completely new for your team, you might consider a pilot program at one site, one section of your facility or a few particular assets. This way, you can help your team adjust to a new way of doing things while working out the kinks in your PM program.
7. Build a preventive maintenance checklist to analyze results
Once your preventive maintenance plan is in motion, it’s important to prioritize inspection and keep an eye on the numbers. It is essential to have a preventive maintenance checklist that helps you to consistently track KPIs, such as mean time to repair, planned maintenance percentage and mean time between failures. Analyzing these stats and comparing them to pre-plan numbers should give you a good idea of how your program is impacting the efficiency of your maintenance operation. Be sure to use your CMMS dashboards and analytics tools to help with this.
Check these metrics against the benchmarks you established when you were first building your preventive maintenance processes. This will help you identify where you are hitting your goals and where you aren’t so you can target issues in your program before they get out of hand. Take advantage of data capture tools to make tracking and analysis easy, quick and actionable. For example, there are many automated reporting templates you can use that are commonly available in maintenance management programs.
Perhaps most importantly, don’t be afraid to share these results! Daily stand-ups are a great opportunity to share results and celebrate wins with your team, and improving the visibility of maintenance functions across your organization will help to enable total productive maintenance.
8. Fine-tune plan
This is one task you should never feel is complete. Your preventive maintenance program should always be under construction as you continually fine-tune, improve, fill in the gaps and fortify procedures that are working well. Use the data you capture through sensors, work order notes and digital reports to see where strengths and weaknesses lie. Uncover opportunities to improve and focus on embracing preventive maintenance wherever possible in your operation. And as we mentioned in number five above, you should create a continuous improvement loop to refine your PMs as failures occur and are followed-up by root cause analyses.
One crucial element in this phase is to include all stakeholders, such as technicians, operations, reliability engineers, etc., in the process of improvement. Digital profiles and forums for team members make it easy to schedule a time to get feedback, work through problems and review issues that have been flagged while you smooth out any wrinkles in your plan.
The bottom line on building a preventive maintenance program
Creating a successful, sustainable, and effective preventive maintenance program doesn’t happen overnight. It takes a lot of planning, but it’s worth it when you achieve the many benefits. It’s important to build a sturdy strategy by identifying goals, creating proper KPIs and triggers, discussing the plan with stakeholders, leveraging the right technology and conducting training for regular maintenance. It takes consistent analysis and fine-tuning to ensure all your careful planning doesn’t go to waste. And just remember, a well-oiled preventive maintenance program is not an unattainable dream for maintenance operations; it’s a viable option for all. And once you have a solid program in place, there’s always room for growth, like expanding into predictive maintenance.