Planned Maintenance: Definition, Examples & How to Implement

What is planned maintenance?

Planned maintenance refers to all proactive maintenance activities that are scheduled and completed according to a specific plan. Also referred to as scheduled maintenance, planned maintenance is typically carried out in order to reduce downtime and costs associated with breakages and equipment failure.

In fact, it’s a basic form of preventive maintenance carried out “according to plan.”

Planned maintenance involves knowing ahead of time the spare parts, tools, services, and maintenance tasks that will be needed to solve a problem.

Dealing with unplanned breakdowns that cause operations to grind to a halt is stressful, expensive, and time-consuming. For this reason, facilities often plan, document, and schedule their maintenance strategy.

Every asset wears out at some point. However, leaders can keep equipment efficiently running as long as possible with planned maintenance. The easiest way to execute effective scheduled maintenance work is by moving your facility management to a Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS).

However, 44 percent of organizations still rely on paper records to plan their maintenance activities. Until recently, CMMS platforms were expensive, complicated, and risky investments. The good news is that modern, cloud-based solutions have removed these barriers to entry.

Organizations of all sizes—with workers with varying technical skill levels—can now execute planned maintenance programs via downloadable mobile apps that support importing asset lists, creating work orders, and using team instant messaging.

Why is planned maintenance important?

Planned maintenance is a necessity for most businesses. Machinery, HVAC units, data networks, and other important assets must remain in reliable condition to meet production and service goals. Organizations that primarily operate in reactive-maintenance mode risk the severe cost of downtime.

According to a Ponemon Institute report, the average cost of downtime is nearly $9,000 per minute for large businesses and $137 to $427 per minute for SMBs. Of course, downtime expenses vary based on industry vertical, organization size, and business model. However, one thing remains the same across the board: strategically planned maintenance programs increase bottom lines.

Two types of planned maintenance

Planned maintenance activities fall into one of two categories: Preventive Maintenance or Planned Unscheduled Maintenance.

Preventive maintenance

As the term suggests, preventive maintenance (PM) involves taking preventive actions to ensure pieces of equipment never come to an inconvenient and expensive halt. Planned preventive maintenance aims to put in place a maintenance schedule that takes care of problems before they occur. For instance, manufacturers often recommend servicing vehicles every 5,000 miles. This scheduled maintenance task helps vehicles run smoothly. Procrastinate car upkeep for too long, and it may stall at a dangerous or inconvenient time.

The most widely recognized form of preventive maintenance involves automobiles. Cars come with service recommendations for specific mileage points. Those who diligently follow such recommendations add years to vehicle life spans.

For example, you change the oil before the engine catches fire. You replace the fan belt before it snaps. Ignoring such recommended PM tasks increases the chances of hazardous breakdowns that often cost more to fix than periodic oil changes, tune-ups, and parts replacement.

  • Preventive maintenance is ideal for the following types of assets:
  • Assets with a critical operational function
  • Assets with high financial value
  • Assets with preventable failure modes
  • Assets with an increased likelihood of failure
  • Assets with statutory requirements

Planned unscheduled maintenance

This approach entails undertaking maintenance activities after a failure has already occurred, although a recovery plan is in place to deal with these eventualities. Once again, the goal is to return the equipment back to operation as soon as possible without jeopardizing safety. Planned unscheduled maintenance helps minimize maintenance costs by avoiding last-minute rush orders for replacement parts. For example, a vehicle owner may purchase a spare battery in case the current one dies.

Perhaps, the most important part of planned maintenance is that well-structured workflows reduce your reactive maintenance and unplanned downtime and increase your KPIs (key performance indicators).

As the graphic above indicates, reactive maintenance always starts with a breakdown or an anomaly, resulting in breakdown and downtime. The benefits of planned maintenance—even work orders requiring weekly lubrication of a piece of equipment—is that it prolongs asset lifespan.

Planned unscheduled maintenance is ideal for the following assets:

  • Redundant assets
  • Non-critical machinery
  • Assets with short lifespans
  • Assets with low financial value
  • Assets unlikely to fail
  • Assets in which repairs aren’t feasible
  • Single-use and inexpensive assets or parts
  • Assets with random failure patterns difficult to anticipate
  • Assets not subject to statutory maintenance requirements

Planned maintenance advantages vs. disadvantages

Before we talk about how to create and implement a maintenance plan, let's look at the pros and cons.


  • Decreases Downtime: Planned maintenance enables teams to resolve issues before they result in failure. Even when a failure occurs, technicians can “follow the plan” to get equipment up and running quickly.
  • Increases Asset Useful Life Span: Regularly serviced equipment lasts longer.
  • Reduces Maintenance Costs: Not surprisingly, planned maintenance programs allow teams to handle breakdowns efficiently without having to spend extra capital on the expedited delivery of replacement parts or outsourced maintenance services. Look for a CMMS that connects directly with vendors: knowing lead times for parts from the site of maintenance work is a game changer.
  • Improves Workplace Safety: Assets operating in optimal conditions ensure those in close proximity are kept safe. Planned maintenance minimizes the risk of disaster.
  • Enhances Company Culture: Frequent unexpected downtime can interfere with employee morale, increase stress, and leads to dissatisfaction. Facilities that minimize downtime foster greater contentment for all.


However, planned maintenance does have disadvantages. In fact, its biggest drawback is that unnecessary tasks may sometimes be completed. If the equipment being inspected doesn’t need upkeep, the servicing technician will have wasted time that could have been diverted to a more urgent work order. Furthermore, inefficiently run preventive maintenance programs can increase maintenance costs over the long run.

What is a maintenance plan & what it includes

Maintenance plans outline all maintenance tasks necessary to maintain facility assets. Effective maintenance plans document company maintenance policies, trace exhaustive inventories of assets, and map workflows.

Depending on a company’s preventive maintenance program experience, a maintenance plan may be simple or exceedingly intricate. Different sizes and types of businesses require different levels of organizational systems. You may want to consider using a CMMS software program to streamline asset management, PM schedules, parts inventory, and standard operating procedures (SOPs).

If you decide to ditch the paper stacks, consider choosing a mobile CMMS that can be used on both desktop and mobile. This way, technicians can use their smartphones to fill work orders and communicate with management while on the job.

General maintenance plans include the following elements:

Maintenance mission statement

Base your maintenance strategies on a maintenance mission statement that both supports and is supported by your organization’s overall business plan. The best maintenance plans reflect the needs of customers, employees, and shareholders. Consult with executive leadership to discuss the role maintenance plays in meeting production and service goals.

Maintenance tasks

List both preventive maintenance and scheduled unplanned maintenance tasks for your facility’s assets. Ideally, every piece of equipment from small to large should be included on your list. The more information you catalog with each asset, the better (e.g. serial numbers, locations, service history dates, vendors).

Work instructions

Once you have documented a task’s basic steps, outline work instructions for how to complete each task. You may want to take things a step further by developing standard operating procedures (SOPs).

Maintenance schedule

Schedules help ensure technicians complete PMs as needed, no more and no less. Maintenance schedules also give workers time to plan and source necessary resources. Set a “maintenance window” to begin your program year. While it would be great to begin at the start of the calendar year, waiting to do so may not be an option. Communicate the timeframe to the entire production team so there is no confusion.

Maintenance technicians

Indicate the specific skills needed for each maintenance activity. Group tasks by required skill sets before matching them with technician specialties. Taking the time to do saves significant time when evaluating new hires and assigning current ones.

Third-party contractors

Facilities outsource an average of 19 percent of maintenance operations to third-party contractors. Delineate the tasks for outsourced specialists. This action will help streamline the hiring process when sourcing quotes down the line.

Replacement parts

Nothing is worse than not fixing a machine because you’re waiting on a part! Accurately predicting spare parts usage is crucial to maximizing profitability, reducing downtime, and reducing stress. Make a comprehensive list of all spare parts the department should stock.

Again, a robust CMMS can help execute each of these elements. The more service history data you put into your CMMS, the more efficient your team will become. Software analytics often reveal surprising time and spending patterns of organizational waste. Managers who fine-tune maintenance strategies based on evolving O&M data can make smarter and more confident budgeting decisions throughout the year.

How to implement a planned maintenance strategy in 7 steps

Proactive maintenance is an essential part of maximizing equipment usefulness, reliability, and value. However, organizations are often unsure of how to create a sustainable planned maintenance program. Take the following steps to build a functional planned maintenance plan for each asset, starting with the most important.

1. Identify equipment failure modes

Conduct a criticality analysis to outline the scope of work to be completed. Gather information on the asset in question, its failure modes, and any other related data that might be useful during maintenance. Failure modes describe specific ways that assets and their components can fail. For instance, the failure modes for a centrifugal pump can be mechanical failure, hydraulic failure, corrosion, or human error. Implementing a predictive maintenance workflow into your planned maintenance system may be essential here.

2. Conduct inspection of assets and surroundings

Outline the details of the maintenance tasks to be performed in the event of failure. Ask yourself questions like: What tools will I need? Which replacement parts must be available? Are there any work environment factors that could affect maintenance?

3. Define work processes

Document the maintenance process for the asset step-by-step, including additional other standard operating procedures, outlining safety precautions, shutdown procedures, and other important information.

4. Create Priority Levels

Once you have several recurring work orders scheduled, prioritization becomes essential. Always handle tasks that return facilities to optimal operations levels ASAP.

5. Schedule & assign work orders

When starting out, schedule PM intervals according to your manufacturer’s recommended maintenance guidelines. Asset maintenance can also be scheduled by date, meter readings, alarm monitoring, or based on the completion of other work.

Assign your recurring work orders for times that will cause the least disruption to in-house operations, procedures, and your customers. If you run a 24/7 operation, scheduling around production and/or service lines may seem intimidating. However, you don’t need to shut down all production lines to briefly service particular components.

Once again, a user-friendly CMMS can simplify the process tenfold.

6. Implement an asset management system

A well-organized asset management system is imperative to optimized scheduling. Make important information, such as asset QR codes, recommended maintenance procedures, and troubleshooting procedures easily accessible to technicians. Knowing an asset’s model and serial code is essential to replace parts. A mobile CMMS can help streamline this process.

7. Track KPIs

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) can keep track of how assets are maintained and of the safety of your personnel and the environment they work in. They also track the performance of your equipment and any hidden costs associated with keeping it up and running. The decision to finally retire machinery or equipment may depend on a variety of factors: from the total number of breakdowns, cost of replacement parts, time spent fixing equipment, and more. You may phase out an asset due to the need for a newer model, changes in your operational requirements, or because the cost of maintaining it has become too high, and you are running the risk of total equipment failure.

The bottom line: the more information you collect about your individual equipment service history over time, the more you can optimize scheduling intervals. The easiest way to automate the maintenance scheduling process is via a user-friendly CMMS.

Examples of equipment that requires planned maintenance

Different companies have different types of assets and maintenance needs. It is difficult to pinpoint all the specific items to put on a planned maintenance program. However, the most common items in a planned maintenance schedule include:

  • HVAC Maintenance: HVAC systems should be regularly inspected and cleaned to ensure proper airflow and energy efficiency.
  • Light Fixtures: Dust can gather on lighting fixtures and reduce the amount of light reaching production areas. They need to be frequently dusted off and burnt-out bulbs replaced.
  • Pest Control: Pest control services in a residential area or business premises can be scheduled for routine maintenance.
  • Filters: This includes water filters, filtration parts, grease and baffle hood filters, HVAC filters, and office air filters.
  • Belts: Conveyor belts and belts on other equipment should be regularly inspected and changed when they show signs of wear and tear.
  • Instruments Recalibration: Recalibrate delicate instruments after a given number of uses.
  • Vehicle Maintenance: Tire rotation, oil changes, state inspections, and cleaning are some of the maintenance tasks you will need to carry out regularly if you manage a fleet of vehicles.
  • Compressors: Frequently inspect your compressors to ensure they have no cracks or wear and tear. Faulty compressors can be a safety hazard.

The list of non-critical and critical assets you can add to a proactive maintenance program is endless. These are just a few to get you started. Having a CMMS can help you set up an efficient maintenance schedule.

Let MaintainX Run Your Planned Maintenance

Planned maintenance is an ideal strategy for companies wanting to minimize maintenance costs, boost profitability, and enhance safety. Combine the previously described steps to build a planned maintenance program with a user-friendly CMMS platform. You will wonder why you didn’t do it sooner!

Check out MaintainX. It’s free.

Planned maintenance FAQs

What Is unplanned unscheduled maintenance?

Unplanned maintenance is often the result of unanticipated equipment failure. It can result in decreased productivity and impact your company’s bottom line. Unplanned maintenance can be expensive, dangerous, and time-consuming. For this reason, organizations should thoroughly examine the failure modes of each asset.

What types of maintenance tasks are typically included in a planned maintenance program?

Planned maintenance tasks can include routine inspections, lubrication, cleaning, adjustments, calibrations, parts replacements, and software updates, among others.

How often should planned maintenance be performed?

The frequency of planned maintenance depends on factors such as equipment type, usage patterns, manufacturer recommendations, and environmental conditions. It can range from daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, to annually.

author photo
Ashley Gwilliam

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