What is Planned Maintenance? [And Why It’s Important]

August 26, 2019 in Industry 4.0

What is Planned Maintenance? [And Why It’s Important]

Planned maintenance is a must for any business that has assets in need of maintaining — assets such as machinery, construction or fleet vehicles, instruments, and more.

Paying attention to the upkeep of these physical assets has an impact on your bottom line—just like your financial assets do.

According to BusinessDirectory.com, the definition of planned maintenance is “Preventive maintenance carried out according to a fixed plan.”

Which doesn’t tell you a whole lot, right?

We’re going to add a little meat to the bone.

First, a survey done in the auto industry 2005 shows that reduction in production due to downtime costs them an average of $22,000 per minute.

That’s nearly $53 million in a single week, assuming there’s only one shift per day for a 5-day week. We know those assembly lines are operating more than that.

While these numbers reflect an industry, or at least part of the industry surveyed, and not an individual company – the results still shine a light on the inefficiencies prevalent across assembly line teams and how much downtime can impact your bottom line.

The manufacturers surveyed said they needed better machine maintenance.

Make sure to learn from them because lost production is costly. The good news is you can escape that cost by having a planned maintenance system in place.

Key takeaways:

  1. The definition of planned maintenance is “Preventive maintenance carried out according to a fixed plan.”
  2. Not having a planned maintenance system in place can be extremely costly.

The Real Meaning of Planned Maintenance

If you have a process in place where you schedule and document any of your maintenance activities, you have some sort of a planned maintenance system in place.

This type of maintenance is carried out to keep equipment downtime at a minimum, and that often means having strategies in place to get them up and running again as quickly as possible should something break down.

We can separate planned maintenance break down into two categories:

1. Preventative Maintenance

The first and some would argue the most important, is preventative maintenance.

As the term suggests, this is where you have a maintenance schedule in place that will – hopefully – address issues before they appear.

You likely do this with your car on a regular basis, so the concept shouldn’t be something new to you.

When you purchase a car, it comes with a service or maintenance schedule. At every x miles, you should have y performed. If you are diligent at keeping up with your maintenance schedule, you could add years and miles to your car.

You change or add oil before your engine catches fire. You replace your fan belt before it snaps.

It’s a concept that is simple and easy to understand.

If you ignore regularly scheduled maintenance, you take the chance of your car breaking down and potentially costing you much more than a few oil changes, tune-ups, and parts replacements.

2. Planned Unscheduled Maintenance

This second strategy of planned maintenance differs in that you are now making repairs and doing replacements on equipment that has already broken down. While the breakdown itself is unscheduled, it’s important to have a plan in place to deal with equipment and machine failure when they happen.

The goal is to get everything back up and running again, safely, as soon as possible.

For example, let’s say you have a shop vehicle that frequently shorts a fuse and turns off. You would be wise to make sure have a spare battery or two on hand in order to swap it out before someone gets hurt.

This saves you time and keeps your team safe – which ultimately saves you money.

Key takeaways:

  1. The goal of a planned maintenance system is to keep equipment downtime at a minimum.
  2. Planned preventative maintenance is scheduled and performed before the point where equipment could breakdown.
  3. Breakdowns are inevitable, but you are planned for them. You have all the parts on hand to get you back up and running again as soon as possible.

Why You Should Have a Planned Maintenance System

Deepwater Horizon

So, is planned maintenance important? Especially as it pertains to safety, shouldn’t it be mandatory?

The answer to that depends on how important it is to you and your company to maximize the usefulness of your assets. When you ask managers and owners if they’d like their expensive equipment to last longer and breakdown less frequently, the answer is always a resounding yes. Most of them are often unsure of where and how to get started with a sustainable process.

Organizational leadership typically dictates the initiative behind a planned maintenance process. Buy-in is often directly correlated to what sort of balance they want to maintain when it comes to asset management and production efficiency.

If you maintain or service an asset more than necessary, you are wasting valuable time and money.

If you don’t maintain your assets you face downtime – also costing money. More money than it would have cost you to do planned or preventative maintenance.

Data shows that the costs associated with dealing with unexpected equipment failures are often up to six times that of the cost of having a planned system in place.

You are disadvantaging yourself by delaying the cost of regular, planned, routine service. Whatever short-term savings you think you’ve realized will eventually disappear as you face financial loss due to downtime.

So finding a balance is key.

Fortunately, there is software—such as MaintainX—that can assist in the administration of an efficient, cost-effective, maintenance schedule. One that will help in creating and meeting the appropriate frequency and intervals of service, as well as who should carry it out.

Are there other cost savings intrinsic to planned maintenance?


It’s logical and factual to state that well-maintained equipment and machinery run more efficiently. They’ll eat up fewer resources and ultimately cost you less to run them. A well-designed system also makes your team more efficient and less mistake-prone.

Key takeaways:

  1. Having a plan in place can stop you from over maintaining your equipment—and spending too much.
  2. If you don’t maintain your equipment you face costly downtime.
  3. Use software like MaintainX that can assist in the administration of a cost-effective maintenance schedule
Benefits of Planned Maintenance       
No more costly downtime.
Greater employee efficiency
Reduction of repair costs
Increase asset and equipment lifespan

When Should Maintenance be Carried Out?

Simple answer? According to your documented maintenance policy.

Which means you need to have a plan or policy in place. If you don’t have a plan in place, getting started isn’t as hard as it may sound. There are modern software solutions that like MaintainX that can help you create and implement a plan. The most successful organizations starting from scratch take a ‘crawl, walk, run’ approach. Getting the basic framework in place is the first step to greatness.

Let’s assume your plan is in place.

Maintenance is carried out when you have all the resources you need to do the job, and at a time that you will cause the least disruption to in-house operations, procedures, and your customers.

If you run a 24/7 operation, this might be intimidating. However, keep in mind, you won’t need to shut down all production lines to run a brief PM on a specific component. If your technician is prepared ahead of time with the procedure and equipment, these can be efficiently processed with minimal disruption.

If you have in-house staff that has the training and the expertise to perform needed maintenance, that’s great. If not, part of your plan needs to include who the work will be outsourced to and how that vendor can be in a position to be successful.

Having a well-organized asset management system and structure is imperative.


There are many key players and processes involved in making a plan effective. From front-line supervisors, maintenance and engineering management, engineering support, maintenance data management, administrators, procurement teams, and even continuous training efforts.

There are a lot of cogs in this wheel.

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) should be used to track how your assets are being maintained, and also used to encompass the safety of your personnel and the environment they work in. They also track the performance of your actual equipment and the ‘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 and more.

You may phase out an asset due to a need for a newer model, changes in your operational requirements, or simply because the cost of maintaining it has become too high and or you are running the risk of total equipment failure.

Key takeaways:

  1. Have a documented maintenance policy in place.
  2. The objective of planned maintenance is to save money.
  3. Having a well-organized asset management structure is imperative.
  4. There are a variety of reasons for retiring equipment instead of maintaining it indefinitely.

Planned Maintenance Strategies

At its core, a maintenance strategy could be seen as something of a mission statement.

It needs to be supported by, not to mention be supportive of, your overall business plan.

Your strategy should also keep in mind the needs—and wants—of everyone connected to your organization. This could include your customers, stakeholders, and shareholders.

Finally, your plan should identify the best possible maintenance tactics.

To wrap it up, your planned maintenance strategy should:

  1. Aim to maximize productivity at all times.
  2. Include a sensible time to phase out equipment that eventually becomes inefficient and ineffective.
  3. Optimize and control costs against the reliability and availability of your machinery and equipment.

If you implement these learning lessons, then you’ve established a strong foundation for the continued growth of your business. A foundation that when cracked – only happens if it’s been planned.

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