7 Elements of Effective Preventive Maintenance Plans

March 12, 2021 in Maintenance



7 Elements of Effective Preventive Maintenance Plans
Table of Contents

Effectively planned preventive maintenance (PM) programs deliver substantial savings. Studies show preventive maintenance can save facilities as much as 18 percent in maintenance costs. Why?

Because scheduling routine maintenance based on usage or time triggers reduces the likelihood of unplanned equipment failures that translate to emergency maintenance expenses. 

The expenses of workers’ overtime, outsourced expertise, and expedited parts’ shipments can add up quickly. However, the most significant financial loss for industrial businesses stems from missing production targets due to downtime. 

Every effective PM program begins with a plan. In this article, we’ll discuss seven essential elements to include in your next preventive maintenance plan. 

7 Essential Elements of Effective Preventive Maintenance Plans

1. Asset Inventory

Preventive maintenance is an excellent strategy for keeping critical assets in good working condition. However, the real cost-savings in PM come from fine-tuning your organization’s PM schedule over time. 

Workplace environments, machine usage patterns, and more can uniquely impact equipment behavior over time. Translation: manufacturer’s recommendations won’t always provide foolproof guidelines to obtain asset reliability. 

Beyond the importance of maintaining detailed asset inventories for accounting records, consistent record keeping can reveal opportunities to optimize spending patterns. 

Each asset entry should include: 

  • Make, model, and serial number
  • Specifications/capabilities
  • Unit number
  • Category
  • Location 
  • QR/Barcode

As routine maintenance is performed, keep track of service dates, labor costs, parts used, and current conditions. Also, note the asset’s criticality to production and safety. 

2. Asset Prioritization

It’s impossible to place all essential assets on initial PM programs. Stay realistic by creating an asset hierarchy for your organization’s most critical assets.

An asset hierarchy is a logical index of every machine and component that is critical that illustrates how the action of one machine affects another. Maintenance teams can use the tool to more easily track machines, schedule PMs efficiently, and identify the root cause of failures.

Prioritize assets that significantly impact production, have high maintenance costs, require regular maintenance, or pose safety hazards. As you begin to realize the return on investment (ROI) of your assets, gradually add more assets to the PM program. 

asset hierarchy
Courtesy of Software Advice

During the preventive maintenance planning stage, some organizations choose to perform a criticality analysis. This exercise helps determine precisely how specific asset failures impact company goals. Managers can then prioritize the maintenance tasks that are most detrimental to production and safety when creating PM schedules. 

3. PM Schedule

A PM schedule lays out when maintenance activities are performed on a given piece of equipment. When developing your PM schedule, select a day and time for maintenance that doesn’t disrupt production. Base PM schedules on one of two metrics:

  • Time: You can base your PM schedule on time and perform maintenance after a set period of time. For example, your fleet of vehicles can undergo maintenance every three months.
  • Usage: For usage-based PM schedules, track usage metrics such as operating hours and production cycles. Maintenance activities are then performed when certain milestones are met. For example, schedule your fleet of vehicles for maintenance every 1,000 miles instead of every three months.

PM schedules usually depend on a work order system. A work order is a document that provides details about a maintenance task and outlines the process to complete the task.

It details the scope of the work, what’s expected, the expected timeline for completing the job, who authorized the work orders, and an assigned maintenance technician. Work orders help you organize, assign, prioritize, track, and complete maintenance tasks besides capturing asset maintenance history.

4. CMMS Software

preventive maintenance plan with CMMS
MaintainX CMMS on desktop and mobile

Most effective PM programs have one thing in common: a Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) the entire team feels comfortable using. Maintenance planners can create, implement, and track recurring work orders via user-friendly dashboards. 

Additionally, CMMS simplify, automate, organize, and optimize O&M. A whopping 58 percent of facilities rely on CMMS to manage their maintenance operations. 

However, up to 80 percent of CMMS implementations fail. Reasons for CMMS failure include:

  • Exclusion of users from the selection process
  • Complex CMMS software
  • Resistance to technology adoption
  • Poor implementation of CMMS

Using modern, cloud-based CMMS can help overcome these implementation challenges. Unlike traditional on-premise systems, cloud CMMS is available over the Internet and, therefore, easier to set up, access from anywhere, and manage the database. Modern CMMS like MaintainX also offer regular updates and better database security.

5. Team Communication 

preventive maintenance plan

Clear and fast communication is essential for an effective PM program. Your team should always be able to communicate with each other efficiently and effectively. Poor communication can lead to:

  • Delayed maintenance timelines 
  • Overlapping work orders and activities
  • Inappropriate prioritization  of maintenance tasks
  • Under- or over-maintenance
  • Poor maintenance inventory management
  • Prolonged downtimes

Approximately 96 percent of office executives claim poor communication is to blame for workplace failures. Maintenance departments are no exception to everyday communication woes.  

According to McKinsey Global Institute, a connected workforce is more likely to post better performance. Using a mobile CMMS with team chat will virtually eliminate important project details falling through the cracks. MaintainX reduces time spent clarifying details, improves access to maintenance records, and speeds up troubleshooting between technicians and managers. 

6. Preventive Maintenance Plan Goals and KPIs

Next, set SMART goals and key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure progress. SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. 

This means your maintenance goals should clearly outline what you’re looking to accomplish when you’re looking to achieve them, and the metrics you’ll use to measure success. Your goals should be relevant to your company’s broader business goals. 

Common KPIs for measuring preventive maintenance plan effectiveness include:

  • Planned Maintenance Percentage (PMP): How much time you spent on planned maintenance compared to unplanned maintenance within a given period.
  • Preventive Maintenance Compliance (PMC): How many scheduled PM tasks you completed within a specific timeframe.
  • Scheduled Maintenance Critical Percentage (SMCP): The impact of delayed planned maintenance activities.
  • Mean Time To Repair (MTTR): The average time it takes to repair and restore an asset to full functionality.

7. Upper-Management Support

preventive maintenance plan

Finally, you’ll need the support of your company’s upper management to implement a PM plan successfully. Convincing leadership to get on board, and increase O&M budgets, can be a daunting task. Here are some tips to help you to make the case for implementing a PM plan:

  • Estimate Return on Investment (ROI): You need to convince the management how the PM program will improve the company’s bottom line. Select a few critical assets and demonstrate how shifting from corrective to preventive maintenance will reduce maintenance costs and improve profits. For example, if you experience three unplanned downtimes a year and the cost of restoring full functionality each time is $500, a PM program could reduce the downtimes from three to one and save $1000 in maintenance costs.
  • Lay Out Maintenance Goals: You can also make a presentation on your long-term maintenance goals and how they align with the overall organizational goals. Remember to cover the challenges faced with the current (reactive) system and how a PM program would overcome them.

Why Preventive Maintenance Plans Sometimes Fail

Lastly, take action to mitigate these common reasons why PM plans sometimes stall out: 

  • Failing to provide proper training for maintenance technicians
  • Mismanaging PM oversight, accountability, and transparency
  • Overlooking root causes of equipment breakdowns

For an effective PM program, you first need to understand your facility’s maintenance goals and develop maintenance checklists that align with the goals.

Simplify PM Planning with MaintainX

Preventive maintenance helps organizations reduce unplanned downtimes, increase asset reliability, minimize maintenance costs, and improve operations. While initially launching a preventive maintenance program may seem complicated, it’s simple if you effectively plan for it. 

Focus on scheduling PM for your most critical assets to keep your new maintenance program affordable, manageable, and effective. The easiest way to get organized is with the support of a user-friendly CMMS like MaintainX

Anyone with a smartphone can download the app and get started with our basic plan, which includes unlimited work orders, right away. 



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