What is planned maintenance?

Planned maintenance, sometimes referred to as scheduled maintenance, refers to any maintenance activity that is planned, documented, and scheduled. The aim of planned maintenance is to reduce downtime by having all necessary resources on hand, such as labor and parts, and a strategy to use these resources.

There are two main types of planned maintenance. The first is planned preventive maintenance, which is scheduled maintenance aimed at repairing assets before they fail. The second is planned and unscheduled maintenance, which is based on having a strategy in place to repair or replace an asset as quickly as possible when it fails.

Start planning your maintenance with this PM checklist template

Examples of planned maintenance

There are various examples that can be used to better illustrate planned maintenance, for example, in the case of vehicles, there are:

  • Oil and filter changes
  • Tire rotation and alignment checks
  • Replacement of timing belts or chains as per manufacturer's recommendations
  • Brake inspections and pad replacements
  • Fluid checks and top-ups (e.g., brake fluid, coolant)

In the case of vehicles, maintenance is conducted and planned ahead of time (scheduled) based on a specific parameter that's met. Scheduled maintenance is determined by maintenance triggers, including time, usage, event, and condition.

For example, oil changes are conducted after 15,000 kilometers, while tire rotation and alignment are usually twice a year with seasonal tire changes or when the vehicle's sensors alert the driver to an issue.

Advantages of planned or scheduled maintenance

Planned maintenance offers a multitude of advantages. Here are some of the key benefits:

  1. You know what to expect: Planning maintenance in advance allows you to properly allocate resources to the job, so that you have the time, personnel, and tools you need, when you need them.
  2. Your maintenance planning is organized: Some scheduled maintenance can be planned years in advance, like changing the tires on an industrial transport vehicle every winter. Other tasks require shorter lead times, such as swapping out air compressors after 100 hours of use. Planning maintenance in advance lets you look ahead in your calendar and see what’s coming up, so you are rarely caught reacting to breakdowns and spreading your resources too thin.
  3. You get work done faster: Planned maintenance allows the maintenance team to focus on efficiency. Technicians can gather all the necessary parts, review all best practices and procedures, and shut down the assets safely before starting work. Because all this work has been done beforehand, the actual maintenance can be finished quicker, more accessible, safer, and more effectively than if an asset goes down unexpectedly.
  4. You reduce downtime: Regularly scheduled maintenance can identify and address issues before they become major problems, leading to less unexpected downtime.
  5. You save big on costs and extend your asset life: By keeping equipment in optimal condition, its overall lifespan can be extended, thereby getting more value from the investment.

Challenges of planned or scheduled maintenance

Although scheduled maintenance has many benefits for maintenance teams, it also holds a few unique challenges, including:

  • Scheduling conflicts: Scheduling maintenance activities can interrupt regular operations. Finding a convenient time that minimizes production loss or service disruption can be a challenge, especially in 24/7 operations.
  • Resource allocation: Allocating resources (both human and material) for maintenance activities can be a challenge when these resources are limited or are required for other tasks.
  • Cost concerns: There might be immediate costs associated with planned maintenance, including labor, parts, and potential downtime. While the long-term benefits (e.g., reduced breakdowns) usually outweigh the costs, budgetary constraints can be a challenge.

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What is planned unscheduled maintenance?

Also known as run-to-failure maintenance, planned but unscheduled maintenance occurs in situations where the maintenance plan for an asset is to wait for it to break.

This approach is typically reserved for assets that have little or no impact on production. Tools, such as power drills and measuring instruments, are a good example. It’s wasteful to preemptively replace these tools, as they are inexpensive and are not critical to production. Instead, organizations keep extra tools on hand so they are available when one fails.

This is still considered planned maintenance (rather than reactive) because the assets are tracked and a strategy to repair them is in place when they wear out, instead of being caught off guard by failure.

Example of run-to-failure maintenance

Consider a light bulb that lights a hallway in a factory. Instead of routinely checking or replacing the bulb at set intervals, the facilities team waits until the bulb burns out. Once it fails, they replace it. Here, the cost and disruption of a bulb failure are minimal, so it's deemed more cost-effective to simply replace it upon failure rather than performing regular preventive maintenance.

How to implement planned maintenance

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to implementing planned maintenance. Every facility is different and requires a slightly different approach. However, there are few basic steps maintenance teams can take to build a foundation for planned maintenance success.

Step 1: Use planned maintenance software

Technology is an important ingredient for implementing planned maintenance. Leveraging planned maintenance software, such as a CMMS, allows you to organize all the resources necessary to plan maintenance, like labor and parts. Planned maintenance software makes it easy to handle schedules, inventory, work orders, and reports. This ensures triggers are set up properly, technicians can respond to work quickly, and the right parts are always in stock, so maintenance can be completed with little disruption.

Step 2: Organize your assets

The first step is to take a survey of your assets and figure out which ones fit into each category of planned maintenance. Remember, there is planned preventive maintenance and planned unscheduled maintenance. Conducting a criticality analysis can help you determine which assets require the most attention and which ones lend themselves to a preventive approach.

Organize your assets quickly with this criticality analysis template

Step 3: Train and execute your strategy

Planned maintenance requires the entire team to participate and be aware of their responsibilities. It’s crucial to ensure everyone is trained on new technology, processes, and procedures. When everyone knows exactly how they fit into a planned maintenance strategy and the resources available to them, it makes implementation much smoother and more effective. If planned maintenance is new for your team, consider testing the strategy to help them adjust to a new way of doing things.

Step 4: Build your planned maintenance checklists

Keep an eye on how your planned maintenance strategy works after it has been launched. Planned maintenance checklists help track maintenance KPIs, giving you a good idea of the program impacting efficiency at your operation. Identify where the plan is working and where it can be improved. Take advantage of data capture and reporting tools to make insights actionable. When fine-tuning the planned maintenance strategy, consult all stakeholders. Technicians, operators, and others can provide unique feedback on tweaking the strategy for optimal results.

Planned maintenance makes your operations more efficient

Planned maintenance ensures preparedness for any maintenance, scheduled or unexpected. While its implementation varies by facility, key strategies for success are asset organization, utilizing maintenance software, proper training, and creating maintenance checklists. This approach reduces reactive measures and allows teams to focus on improvement opportunities.

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