As anyone working in production knows, unplanned downtime can be a real headache. It stops your operation dead in its tracks, negatively impacts customer relationships, and can lose you a fortune in associated costs.
Research suggests that the average manufacturer deals with around 800 hours of unplanned downtime annually. Incidentally, a single hour of unplanned downtime can cost you anywhere between $10,000 and $250,000. Combined across all companies in the industry, the cost of that can reach up to $50 billion in lost revenue.
The question is, what can you do to prevent it? And the answer is simple – create a preventive maintenance (PM) schedule. Not sure where to start? In this article, we’ll lift the veil on the fundamental information you need to know about PM schedules.
What is a Preventive Maintenance Schedule?
In its purest form, a preventive maintenance schedule is a set of planned maintenance tasks carried out regularly with the intent to prevent equipment failure and unplanned downtime. A PM schedule has to account for several variables to be effective, including necessary materials, responsible individuals, required tasks, and specific timing.
Preventive maintenance differs from reactive maintenance, as it seeks to avoid asset breakdown via regularly scheduled work orders based on an asset’s historical data, the maintenance team’s internal know-how, and the original equipment manufacturer’s (OEM) recommendations.
Meantime, reactive maintenance only seeks corrective measures once a piece of equipment has already failed. Incidentally, running an asset to failure like this can cost you up to 10x as much as a regular maintenance schedule would.
As we’ll discuss in the following sections, preventive maintenance schedules can be divided into two types: fixed preventive maintenance schedules and floating preventive maintenance schedules.
What is Fixed Preventive Maintenance Scheduling?
As the name suggests, fixed preventive maintenance work orders are carried out regularly in set intervals, irrespective of whether or not the previous maintenance tasks were completed. How often they occur can be based on the timeframe, equipment usage, or specific operational triggers.
Example: Consider your personal vehicle. The generally accepted recommendation is to change your oil every 7,500 – 10,000 miles (11,000 – 15,000 kilometers) driven. If you were to set a fixed preventive maintenance schedule for your car, you’d have your oil changed every time the clock ticked over this distance, regardless of how long it took.
What is Floating Preventive Maintenance Scheduling?
Unlike fixed preventive maintenance, floating preventive maintenance scheduling is entirely predicated on the status of previous tasks. This means that the new work order countdown will only trigger following the previous one’s completion. Consequently, floating preventive maintenance schedules require far more diligence than fixed ones.
Example: You decide to run preventive maintenance on your main manufacturing line every 150 hours (i.e., lubricating, tightening components, etc.). Due to unforeseen circumstances, you push back the PM by 50 hours, meaning the work order is carried out at 200 hours of operation. Therefore, the next PM work order will happen at 350 hours of operation instead of 300.
Benefits of Preventive Maintenance
We’ve already peppered a few reasons to invest in a preventive maintenance schedule throughout the article. However, to make refreshing your memory (and convincing a stubborn colleague or manager) easier, we’ve created this simple-to-refer-to list.
Why creating a preventive maintenance schedule is worth your time:
- Minimizes external and maximizes internal resource use
- Improves production efficiency
- Boosts employee productivity
- Lowers operating costs
- Reduces breakdowns
- Prevents downtime
- Streamlines workflows
- Lengthens asset lifespan
- Promotes Health & Safety
- Boosts customer satisfaction
- Saves money
How to Make a Preventive Maintenance Schedule
Before diving head-first into creating a preventive maintenance schedule, we must warn you. Whether you choose fixed, floating, or both types of preventative maintenance, this is not a one-and-done process.
To succeed, you must spare time, assets, and careful consideration. However, the benefits will outweigh your initial investment several times over if you pull it off. As they say, anything worth doing is worth doing right.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way let’s take a look at the steps necessary to create a preventive maintenance schedule.
#1 Determine Key Operational Assets
First, take stock of all your assets and equipment, and consider which are most critical to your company’s success. Next, think about whether their failure is preventable via PM, the cost of repair/replacement, and the likelihood of a breakdown. Considering all these aspects, create a numbered list ordering your assets from most to least vital.
#2 Collect Necessary Information
Now that you have your priorities straight, it’s time to do a little detective work. Investigate what problems these assets encounter and how often. If you have a CMMS, all the information should already be there, but if not, you’ll probably have to browse through a few Excel sheets.
#3 Estimate Maintenance Requirements
Great work, now you have a general idea of how often you should run preventive maintenance on your most crucial assets. However, not all equipment is created equal. You need to account for these differences, so take time to consult your in-house maintenance team and the OEM recommendations for further insight into the processes, tools, and materials required to keep everything up and running.
#4 Create the Initial Preventive Maintenance Schedule
Next, combine all your acquired knowledge from your historical data, maintenance team, and OEM recommendations, and create a custom maintenance schedule for each critical asset. In other words, specify which equipment should undergo maintenance, how often, and who should be responsible for the work order.
Again, a CMMS will make this process much easier, but even an Excel sheet should be sufficient to start with.
#5 Evaluate Results
After deploying your brand-new preventive maintenance schedule, let your employees get used to the new work processes and collect information. After some time (ex., 1-3 months), open your historical data and assess the results.
Has the number of breakdowns and unplanned downtimes decreased? Excellent, keep doing what you’re doing. However, if they’ve remained the same or even increased, you’ll have to revisit your initial plan, figure out where you went wrong, and make necessary adjustments.
#6 Increase Scope
Assuming you were successful in decreasing breakdowns and increasing productivity on your first try, or you’ve managed to discover previous faults and fix them, it’s time to expand on your preventive maintenance activities. Move further down the list you created initially and create new schedules for the less-critical assets.
#7 Rinse and Repeat
Congratulations, by now, you should have the process down pat! Keep doing what you’ve been doing up till now for every piece of equipment in your production process until each one has its own preventive maintenance schedule.
But remember, there’s no such thing as the “perfect” PM schedule. There is always room for improvement, so don’t be afraid to go back, evaluate your work orders, and look for ways to make them even better.
What is Preventive Maintenance Software?
Preventive maintenance software is a program that assists you on processes of preventative maintenance planning, scheduling, data collection or reporting.
Incorporating PM software can include digitizing the whole preventive maintenance or some of its processes.
Digital solutions can enable you to increase the positive impact of preventive maintenance on your organization. Namely, it helps further optimize resource use (ex., materials, employees, assets, etc.) by streamlining workflows, extending asset lifespan, and reducing long-term costs.
Managing your assets and resources from one place can also significantly reduce the administrative workload of managers and field technicians.
“Having one central hub to keep up with all service activities cuts down on paperwork and administrative tasks. Our managers can focus more on the big picture and client needs. And on top of that, it also speeds up the onboarding of new employees,”
adds IT Specialist at innogy Solutions Marek Sugar.
Despite the initial investment, using preventive maintenance software can cut your costs down significantly. Just remember to look out for several core features if you choose to onboard one.
Every good tool should include a PM scheduler, work orders, mobile forms, reporting, offline functionality, and if you use CRM system like MS Dynamics 365 or Salesforce, check the integration options too.
The last but not least is the user experience of the mobile solution your technicians will use.
“Simply put, if it wasn’t easy to use, or didn’t make the job easier for the technicians, they won’t use it,” confirms CRM Consultant at Fusion5 Dan Lorimer.
Preventive Maintenance Schedule Templates, Checklists & Sheets
To end with, let us leave you off with a few resources to help you on your journey towards better efficiency, less frequent breakdowns, and lower costs. Apart from Preventive Maintenance Software, Resco also offers a Preventive Maintenance Checklist which you can download and use for completely free.
Evaluate the condition of your manufacturing equipment, mitigate the risk of malfunction, save costs, and reduce downtimes.
The need and benefit of utilizing preventive maintenance schedules should be self-evident by now. Although the journey towards better field operations is an endless endeavour, it’s well worth your time. Use the information and resources you’ve acquired throughout this article, and even you might not believe the differences you’ll see.