If you’re a facility manager, you’ve probably heard a variation of the phrase, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” This mentality may work in the short term, but ongoing reactive maintenance may fail due to a lack of consistency and proactive repairs cost thousands of euros each year. Unplanned equipment failures are stressful and time-consuming for facility teams to fix. If your team is still taking a reactive approach to maintenance, it’s time to make a change. A solid preventive maintenance program is key to keeping equipment safe and functioning properly.
What Is Preventive Maintenance?
Preventive maintenance is a systematic approach to building operations designed to predict and prevent catastrophic equipment failures before they occur. To achieve this, facility personnel routinely inspect, maintain, and repair equipment to ensure that it performs as expected by the manufacturer. Functional equipment enables facility staff to focus less on reactive maintenance and more on upcoming maintenance tasks or time-sensitive work orders.
As a general rule, it is better to prevent problems than to have to react to problems. Preventive maintenance reduces the likelihood of unexpected problems by promoting optimal equipment performance. The following list outlines a few ways facilities teams can stay on top of preventive maintenance in their departments:
- Schedule and perform regular equipment inspections.
- Regularly clean buildings, grounds, and property.
- Lubricate moving parts to reduce wear.
- Amplified controls for optimal performance and energy efficiency.
- Repair and replace any defective piece of equipment.
What Are The Different Types Of Preventive Maintenance?
There are 3 types of preventive maintenance:
- systematic maintenance,
- condition monitoring,
- predictive maintenance.
Systematic maintenance in the operation and maintenance department allows one to focus on and ensure the normal operation of the machine. The goal of routine maintenance is to reduce downtime by constantly checking that your machines are running at peak performance.
Systematic maintenance gives you the opportunity to minimize errors and breakdowns, thus ensuring a longer life for your machine.
Condition-based maintenance is a maintenance strategy that monitors the actual condition of an asset to deciding which maintenance to perform. According to this strategy, maintenance should only be performed when certain metrics show signs of degraded performance or impending failure. Validating these metrics on the machine can include non-invasive measurements, visual inspections, performance data, and scheduled testing. Machine status data can then be collected at intervals or continuously (as is the case when the machine is equipped with internal sensors).
Condition monitoring can be applied to critical and non-critical assets.
Predictive maintenance is a technique that uses data analysis tools and techniques to detect operational anomalies and possible failures in equipment and processes in order to fix them before they cause them. Ideally, predictive maintenance can minimize maintenance frequency to avoid unplanned reactive maintenance without the costs associated with excessive preventive maintenance. Preventive maintenance can take a time-based approach, a usage-based approach, or a combination of the two. Let’s look at an example of each type:
Time-Based Preventive Maintenance
Time-based preventive maintenance goes by many names, the most important of which is “planned-based” maintenance. Regardless of the term your department uses, this approach involves developing a preventive maintenance schedule that involves regular inspections of equipment, especially those that could have a significant impact on production if they failed. Time-based preventive maintenance is best for limited assets (such as fire equipment) and critical assets (such as HVAC systems and pumps), although facility managers can use this approach for any asset that requires preventive maintenance. Here are some examples to illustrate:
“Inspect the parking lot for cracks once a month.”
“Replace air handling unit filters every three months.”
“Inspect water heaters twice a year.”
Usage-Based Preventive Maintenance
Usage-based maintenance, also known as “in-use maintenance”, is an approach that triggers maintenance after a certain amount of time the asset has been in use (e.g. every “X” kilometers, miles, hours, or cycle of production). Usage-based maintenance helps ensure that equipment continues to perform as the manufacturer intended. Unlike time-based maintenance, which happens on a more rigid schedule, usage-based maintenance happens as often as the equipment needs it, whether that’s monthly or every six months. Check out these usage-based maintenance examples:
“Inspect belts every 100 hours of production.”
“Maintain motor vehicles every 8,000 km.”
“Lubricate pumps every 10,000 hours of operation.”
What Are The Four Key Preventive Maintenance Actions?
Preventive maintenance adopts the method of active maintenance, which mainly includes four major actions: inspection, detection, correction, and prevention. Let’s take a closer look at how each concept can be the foundation of a successful preventive maintenance program.
Inspections are a necessary part of preventive maintenance and help the organization in two ways. First, facility inspections ensure that equipment is safe to use. Regular inspections help avoid workplace accidents and provide the company with more liability protection. The second is to regularly inspect and protect assets. Check to make sure the equipment is operating as intended by the manufacturer.
Running in a “run-to-fail” fashion ultimately incurs facility service costs, which is why many facility managers opt for a preventive maintenance approach. Predictive maintenance allows facility managers to identify problems early, which are relatively easy and inexpensive to fix.
Preventive maintenance encourages facility managers to take a proactive approach to maintain equipment and fixing problems before they occur. When a problem (or potential problem) is identified, facility managers take action to quickly resolve the problem before it escalates or disrupts operations.
Facility managers can combine inspection records and maintenance alerts to learn from past mistakes and resolve recurring equipment issues. Preventing equipment downtime reduces stress and increases facility team productivity. When equipment is performing according to inspections, personnel can focus on proactive (rather than reactive) maintenance tasks.
What Are The Benefits Of Preventive Maintenance?
Of course, one of the most obvious benefits of implementing preventive maintenance is that you’re more likely to prevent problems before they happen. That’s the whole point, right? But if you’re still not convinced, there are a few specific benefits you can consider:
- Preventive maintenance reduces downtime and business shutdowns due to unexpected equipment failures.
- Preventive maintenance will increase equipment life, saving you money in the long run.
- Preventive maintenance ensures that all equipment and employees work only during scheduled hours, eliminating the need for overtime pay due to unplanned machinery breakdowns, etc.
- Preventive maintenance will significantly reduce safety risks for employees and customers, thereby reducing the risk of costly lawsuits and workers’ compensation.
- Preventive maintenance helps reduce the energy consumption of your assets and equipment through high levels of operational efficiency, which will lower your utility bills.
These are just a few of the specific benefits that come with regular preventive maintenance. Even if you own a small retail store or food stand and don’t work with heavy machinery or equipment, preventive maintenance applied to your business will go a long way in reducing accidents and costly damage.
What Are Repairs?
Repairs are actions taken to restore an asset to normal function. Essentially, it’s about restoring a broken thing to its optimal working condition. The extent of repairs required depends on the nature of the equipment failure. There are two main types of errors:
This refers to an outage that causes the asset to become unusable. The asset cannot perform its function until someone takes care of it. For example, an engine failure can stall your car and make it undrivable until you take it to a mechanic. Equipment failure often results in unplanned downtime, which is often costly and requires urgent maintenance.
In this case, the asset works to some extent despite the error. You can still use the gear, but it’s either unsafe or extremely ineffective. For example, a driver might choose to drive a vehicle with a dirty air filter. But he might notice that the air conditioner isn’t as cold as it used to be, or he might sneeze because of the poor air quality. Often, you want to fix partial failures as quickly as possible, before they lead to complete failures at the wrong time.
Obviously, some repairs are more expensive than others. How much you spend on repairs depends on the root cause of the failure.
While failures are inevitable, most equipment failures are avoidable. This is where maintenance comes into play. Proactive maintenance can help you avoid major and expensive repairs.