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How Many Different Types of Preventive Maintenance Exist? 

Look under the hood of any organization, and the primary goal of its preventive maintenance program is the same: 

Reduce Asset Deterioration → Reduce Downtime → Reduce Costs. 

Preventive Maintenance (PM) is planned maintenance that increases longevity of company assets, equipment, and infrastructure. Also known as preventative maintenance, PM includes adjustments, cleaning, lubrication, repairs, and replacements. Put simply, any kind of maintenance that isn’t a reaction to “Oh crap, when (or how) did that happen?” is preventive maintenance. 

Preventive maintenance has three components: 

  1. It’s systematic
  2. It’s performed routinely
  3. It’s aimed at reducing or minimizing failures

These characteristics define the scope of all PM tasks. Regardless of the industry, running a successful preventive maintenance program involves several moving parts. Operational managers must catalog assets, adopt organizational calendars, assign work orders, and hold team members accountable in order to ensure PM procedures don’t backlog. 

However, you might be surprised to learn there isn’t just one type of PM method. 

In recent years, new technologies have created new ways to predict equipment breakdown with unparalleled levels of accuracy. 

In this article, we’ll summarize all your PM options. After reading, you will have a better grasp on what’s best for your organization right now.

Let’s get started: 

The 4 Different Types of Preventive Maintenance 

PM tasks are completed to anticipate, prevent, and prolong the process of equipment breakdown. Thus, they should be performed on parts and components with age-related failure patterns. 

Though there is no universal consensus on exactly how many different types of preventive maintenance exist, most of them fall into four general categories that are sometimes broken into subcategories. Check out the chart below for an overview: 

1. Periodic Maintenance

Periodic maintenance workflow

Periodic maintenance, or time-based maintenance, is performed on assets at scheduled intervals throughout the calendar year. It could be done annually, quarterly, monthly, or weekly. 

The easiest way to determine how often to update asset parts is to check the manufacturer’s guidelines. Each piece of equipment comes with specific maintenance recommendations designed to extend lifespans. 

These guidelines are based on the manufacturer’s Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF), or the average time a machine is operating between stops. If similar models worked efficiently for X amount of time before maintenance task A was needed, we can conclude your machine will follow a similar pattern. 

Companies that track their own MTBFs can finetune their periodic maintenance schedules with even higher levels of accuracy. While periodic maintenance works great for regularly used equipment, it’s ineffective on machines that are only used once in a while. 

Additionally, periodic maintenance can include the subcategories of failure finding maintenance (FFM) and risk-based maintenance (RBM). FTM is the process of checking for malfunctioning “hidden parts” that exist as safety mechanisms. 

For example, pressure valves function to prevent machines from overheating. Regularly servicing such unseen parts can provide some peace of mind that assets are safeguarded from larger failures. 

Alternatively, RBM represents the philosophy of prioritizing high-risk PM tasks over low-risk PM tasks in the face of limited resources. All of these maintenance scheduling methods are useful measures for reducing the likelihood of age-related equipment failure and can be used simultaneously. 

Examples of Periodic Maintenance

  • Cleaning corrosion
  • Checking bearing grease
  • Changing lubricating oils
  • Replacing filter components
  • Checking pressure / temperature gauges

Pros: Minimal costs to begin, no additional equipment required. 

Cons: Risk of performing unnecessary activities. 

2. Meter-Based Maintenance

Meter-based maintenance workflow

Meter-based maintenance, also known as performance-based maintenance, is slightly more complex than periodic maintenance. This preventive maintenance method is performed when a meter reading indicates that an asset should be serviced. Common variables of measurement include, but are not limited to, hours used, miles driven, parts produced, and pressure generated. 

Essentially, all meter readings are based on time-based triggers. Consequently, meters must be regularly monitored to ensure equipment is maintained. Sometimes the asset will have a built-in meter, while other times the machine will require separate components for measurement. 

Examples of Meter-Based Maintenance: 

  • Conveyor belt machines with maximum run times
  • Checking the chlorine level in a pool
  • Changing the oil of a motor every 15,000 miles 
  • Reading a gauge to ensure it is within a safe range

Pros: Minimal costs to begin, dependably consistent, highly accurate. 

Cons: Fairly challenging to maintain compliance with regulations. 

3. Predictive Maintenance 

Predictive-based maintenance workflow

According to IBM’s Using the IoT for Preventive Maintenance report, an estimated 30 percent of preventive maintenance procedures are done too frequently. Yet, numerous studies show companies waste even more money by NOT practicing PM at all, and simply reacting to equipment failures. 

Predictive Maintenance (PdM) is the Goldilocks of the maintenance world—it’s  the “just right” solution for not overdoing it or underdoing it with PM. This advanced maintenance method monitors the condition of assets using sensor devices. Once a sensor detects an abnormality, a work order is automatically generated within a CMMS and assigned to a technician.

Predictive maintenance programs can save organizations lots of time, manpower and money in the long run. However, the emerging technology isn’t a good fit for most teams. 

Ideal candidates will already have a high level of PM organization in place to set up initial PdM baselines. If your team is still in reactive maintenance mode most of the time, or isn’t willing to make a sizable investment, we recommend sticking with time-based and meter-based PM.

Examples of Predictive Maintenance 

  • Thermal sensors installed on equipment in server facilities provide automated alerts when technology vents are in danger of overheating. 
  • Vibration meters attached to centrifugal pump motors in coal plants to identify abnormal spikes in acceleration based on historical data.
  • Using historical asset data from your CMMS to perform a PM work order one month early on a wrapper machine to prevent downtime. 

Pros: More accurately increase active uptime, streamline costs 

Cons: Expensive initial investment, large organizational commitment  

4. Prescriptive Maintenance 

Similar to predictive maintenance, prescriptive maintenance (RxM) makes decisions based on data. However, this cutting-edge method of equipment monitoring takes efficiency even further with machine learning software. 

The smart software analyzes equipment conditions over time, assesses operational risks, and makes specialized recommendations that outperform generic manufacturer’s guidelines. 

While predictive maintenance can provide an estimated duration until failure, RxM allows maintenance teams to track variable operating conditions up to the time to failure. The technology behind the advancement is called “prescriptive analytics,” and was created to hypothesize potential outcomes that could lead to equipment stops. The coolest part about prescriptive maintenance? 

The more familiar the Artificial Intelligence (AI) becomes with your machine’s innerworkings, the more cost-efficient your organization becomes. In other words, you almost never perform unnecessary preventive maintenance or emergency reactive maintenance. 

As with most early technology, RxM isn’t affordable for most companies at this time and is still in its infancy. However, we expect to see incredible advancements that lower the barrier to entry for organizations of all sizes in the decades to come.  

Examples of Prescriptive Maintenance:

  • If the weather conditions are suggesting thunderstorms, which would raise the barometric pressure, you might be assigned a work order by the AI to adjust the pressure in a processing tank to avoid issues.
  • If your production line gearbox is due for a monthly PM, but it requires the line to be shut down for 15 minutes during a busy production cycle, the AI might determine there is only a 2% increased likelihood of a failure if this month is skipped and will help meet order demand by keeping the line running. 

Pros: Highest possible degree of accuracy, streamline costs, cutting-edge

Cons: Must be customized to individual facilities, very expensive

Simplify Preventive Maintenance With MaintainX

Which type of preventive maintenance is best for your organization? The answer depends on your company size, existing PM systems, and budget. However, most organizations would benefit from a mixture of predictive and meter-based maintenance because of their proven overall efficiency and low cost to entry. 

MaintainX helps teams create work orders, track asset history, and enhance accountability with digital audit trails. Our free software plan includes:

  • Unlimited Work Orders: Store everything in the cloud. 
  • Unlimited Messaging: Say goodbye to lost email threads.
  • Unlimited Assets: Index equipment history in one place. 

Now you should have a better idea of each type of preventive maintenance. Are you ready to manage your company’s operations without the paper stacks? Global organizations like McDonald’s, Marriott, and Hilton have already switched to the convenience of MaintainX. 

Click here to download the app for free. 

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