What is Preventive Maintenance?

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What is Preventive Maintenance?

Preventive Maintenance is the planned maintenance of plant infrastructure and equipment, which is usually carried out with the goal of improving equipment life by preventing excess depreciation and impairment, or untimely breakdown.

This maintenance includes, but is not limited to, adjustments, cleaning, lubrication, repairs, replacements, and with the overall goal is the extension of the equipment’s life.

Preventive Maintenance standards provide the fundamental principles and crucial guidelines for establishing a successful preventive maintenance program.

Due to the varying needs of different plants, the type and amount of preventive maintenance required also varies greatly from plant to plant as well as equipment to equipment. Due to this, it is extremely difficult to establish a successful preventive maintenance program without the proper guidelines and instructions, or knowledge of the plant that you are running.

How Does Preventive Maintenance Help?

Think about it in simple terms, such as with your car; oil changes and regular servicing are part of a preventive maintenance scheme designed to ensure that your car runs properly and without unexpected failure.

If you ignore that maintenance and go too far beyond designated service intervals, you run the risk of catastrophic failure in myriad subsystems in your car, and we all know how annoying – and potentially expensive – that can be.

The use of CMMS software not only supports but accelerates you understanding of your maintenance needs.  Modern CMMS software is a powerful tool that can be used to approach your maintenance program in a structured and coherent way.

Using such programs can help do far more than plan and report your maintenance and its findings and are effective in processing many parts of the facilities day to day management such as work orders and scheduling.

Good CMMS software should be able to touch all parts of your company and bring everything together under one platform so that you, as maintenance and facilities manager, can be assured that every aspect is covered.

Preventive maintenance programs have become an art, with schedules designed to get to machine tools and plant infrastructure at a time that is not labour intensive – and therefore unnecessarily costly – while ensuring that the machine or equipment gets the support it needs to run correctly.

If you over-maintain plant or equipment you are spending money needlessly, since you won’t improve its performance by doing so, but if you under-maintain it, you increase the risk of it failing. And failure is almost guaranteed to happen at the most inconvenient time!

The Benefits of Preventive Maintenance

Carrying out a robust program of preventive maintenance can have many positive impacts on you company, and range far beyond simply keeping your plant and infrastructure equipment operating as normal.   Amongst the full range of benefits are:

  • Life of company equipment extended beyond usual expectations.  By keeping machines fully serviced, they can be expected to run perfectly for extended periods of time, often outside of their usual lifetime.

  • Less unplanned downtime caused by equipment failure.  With preventive maintenance, you know when failures are likely to occur, and catch them before they do.

  • Less unnecessary maintenance, repairs, and inspections.  CMMS systems mean that you only repair and service when you need to.

  • Fewer errors in day-to-day operations.  Less expensive breakdowns.

  • Improved reliability of equipment.  Fully serviced means machines work at optimum all of the time.

  • Fewer expensive repairs caused by unexpected equipment failure that must be fixed quickly.

  • Reduced risk of injury.  A fully serviced machine is a safe machine and that means fewer – if any – safety issues and injuries.

All of these instances cost your company money unnecessarily and are all potentially expensive.  The final issue – health and safety – being one that can significantly impact your company from both a financial and legal perspective.

It takes just one accident to seriously damage your reputation and the protection of people is paramount, even beyond the impact on company equipment.

The price of employee safety is never too high and organizations such as the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OHSA) rigorously enforce Government policy in this emotive field.

With the risk to life and limb ever present, and risks multiplied by a lack of appropriate maintenance, organizations such as OHSA enforce requirements and will always highlight failures to meet responsibilities.

Obviously, one of the major advantages of running both a preventive maintenance program and one driven by a CMMS package is that it helps create a long-term picture of your facilities and how they change over time.

With an increasingly detailed picture of not only what failures are occurring, but also how wear is happening, you are in perfect position to project your forward-looking maintenance costs and spares requirements.

This in itself becomes a major cost saving since you have a detailed picture of what spares stock you need to carry and which parts you can do without. And you can usually get your CMMS package to notify you when it is time to get the parts that you don’t need to stock, letting you operate in a Just-in-Time fashion.

What Should Preventive Maintenance Include?

Some aspects of a solid preventive Maintenance program are obvious. Plainly production line equipment should be suitably maintained to prevent breakdown, and infrastructure elements such as heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) should be routinely inspected, cleaned, and updated as required.

However, there may be other systems that also need routine maintenance to prevent failure.  How about your water systems? Do you have appropriate filtration? Are you running warm water systems that may be a breeding area for serious bacterial infections such as Legionnaires Disease?

How about your electrical systems and the need to ensure that they not only comply with legislation but do not degrade over time? Doors, stairways, lighting, and flooring all need periodic inspection and maintenance.

And what about your safety systems such as sprinklers and fire extinguishers?

All of these are likely to require at least some level of periodic checking and upkeep, with some of them being legally enforceable.

The list of what need including on your preventive maintenance plan can be bewildering, but there are certain guidelines that give you at least a basis to conform too.  The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) carries a lot of information on preventive maintenance and is a good place to start if you are unsure as to the extent of the program that you need.  

An Essential Service for Your Business

Preventive Maintenance is often seen as an overhead spend that is difficult to justify since its value-added component is not always obvious.

But it takes just one period of machine downtime, or a single notifiable accident to demonstrate how important it is to undertake a program of forward-looking maintenance.

Preventive maintenance is all about planning and systematic inspection. Carried out properly, and with sufficient groundwork carried out, it becomes almost self-driving process that covers maintenance planning effectively and minimizes equipment downtime.

Your CMMS software package should be able to process and, more importantly, cross-reference the information that is going into the system to ensure that alerts are issued when required, and parts can be ordered in a timely way.

Don’t be caught out by the unexpected and make sure that all applicable systems are included in your preventive maintenance program, for the safety of your employees and customers and the long-term health of your equipment and systems.

If you don’t have a preventive maintenance plan in place, you run the risk of serious breakdown of equipment of site infrastructure or, even worse, accidents involving staff or members of the public. Neither of those are going to do your business any good at all!

While preventive maintenance isn’t the right method for all companies, it is one of the most used in larger companies and high technology areas where a failure could have serious ramifications on production or research.

While it is a system that that is regarded as being more intensive than other means of controlling your maintenance program, it is also true that once the initial groundwork has been completed, the background work is generally easier to run.

This becomes even more so if you employ a strong CMMS system and develop a full maintenance plan to back it up. This will take away the need for so many maintenance operatives as the software will allow a strong forward-looking view of what is needed and when.

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