What Is Planned Maintenance?

September 26, 2022

Planned Maintenance Definition

Planned maintenance is a maintenance approach focused on minimizing unplanned equipment downtime and returning to uptime as soon as possible after a breakdown. 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. 

planned maintenance

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. 

Two Categories of Planned Maintenance

  • Preventative Maintenance: Planned preventative 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. 
planned maintenance
  • 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).

planned maintenance

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 Maintenance Advantages vs. Disadvantages


  • 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, scheduled 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. 

5 Steps to Scheduling Maintenance Tasks

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

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 Asset 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 Process

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 Your Planned Maintenance Program

Finally, assign your maintenance tasks to the appropriate technicians. Once again, a user-friendly CMMS app can simplify the process tenfold. 

What Equipment Needs a Planned Maintenance Schedule?

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.

What Is Unplanned Unscheduled Maintenance?

Finally, despite a maintenance team’s best attempts, it will sometimes find itself putting out fires—figuratively and hopefully not literally. This type of work is referred to as unplanned maintenance and 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.


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! 

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Caroline Eisner
Caroline Eisner
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