What is Preventive Maintenance? [2024 Guide]

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Preventive Maintenance: An In-Depth Guide

Preventive maintenance is the routine inspection and servicing of assets to avoid potential failures and extend their operational lifespan.

Work done for preventive maintenance includes:

  • Inspections (primarily visual, but there could be other types, such as thermal)
  • Equipment maintenance
  • Planning, scheduling, and record-keeping to be aware of the status of assets

In local government, public works departments, water systems, and parks and recreation departments use preventive maintenance to ensure the longevity and reliability of their infrastructure and equipment.

Private companies also do preventive maintenance. From oil and gas to mining to power generation, any industry that uses heavy equipment or large, expensive assets takes care of their investments by proactively inspecting and maintaining them.

What Is Preventive Maintenance?

Preventive maintenance is a strategic approach to maintenance that involves regular, systematic maintenance activities, including inspections, cleanings, and repairs.

The aim? Prevent equipment failures before they occur.

This proactive maintenance strategy is designed to keep machinery operating smoothly according to manufacturer specifications, thereby reducing the likelihood of unexpected downtime and costly repairs.

By implementing preventive maintenance, organizations can enhance workplace safety, extend the lifespan of their assets, and optimize overall operational efficiency.

Here’s a list of different types of maintenance, showing where preventive maintenance fits in:

  • Corrective Maintenance. Repairs to restore function after a failure.
  • Predictive Maintenance. Using data analysis to predict and prevent failures.
  • Preventive Maintenance. Finding and fixing small issues before they’re allowed to get worse.
  • Deferred Maintenance. Postponing maintenance activities due to budget or resource constraints. Learn more in this guide.
  • Condition-Based Maintenance. Performing maintenance based on the actual condition of equipment, not on a set schedule.
  • Emergency Maintenance. Unplanned repairs in response to urgent issues.

Each of these types of maintenance addresses different operational needs and resource planning strategies within organizations.

Examples of Preventive Maintenance Tasks

Preventive maintenance tasks are critical for ensuring equipment longevity and efficiency.

These tasks can be categorized based on their nature and urgency:

Mandatory tasks. Essential actions required to prevent equipment failure, like cooling specific components.
Non-mandatory tasks. Important but not immediate, such as surface inspections, which can be rescheduled if necessary.

  • Pyramiding tasks. Occur when a scheduled task is missed and overlaps with upcoming maintenance, requiring careful monitoring.
  • Inspection tasks. Condition-based tasks that necessitate an inspection to identify issues before proceeding.
  • Task-oriented tasks. Combine inspection with maintenance, optimizing resources and time.

This structured approach helps prioritize maintenance activities, ensuring that resources are allocated effectively to maintain operational reliability.

Preventive Maintenance for Local Government

Preventive maintenance is a cornerstone of asset management in local government, ensuring the longevity and reliability of public assets.

By regularly inspecting and maintaining infrastructure, equipment, and facilities, local governments can prevent costly breakdowns, extend asset lifespans, and ensure continuous service to the community.

This proactive approach not only safeguards public investments but can also enhance the quality of life for residents by maintaining safe, functional, and efficient public services.

The three areas where preventive maintenance is used in local government are:

  • Public Works Departments
  • Water Systems
  • Parks and Recreation Departments

Keep reading for a closer look at preventive maintenance across each of these areas.

Preventive Maintenance for Public Works Departments

Preventive maintenance in public works involves systematic inspections and maintenance of city infrastructure, including assets like roads, bridges, and public buildings, to prevent deterioration and ensure operational efficiency.

By implementing a robust preventive maintenance plan, public works departments can significantly extend the life of vital infrastructure assets, ensuring they remain safe and functional for public use. Doing this not only optimizes resource allocation—it can also safeguard public safety and enhance resident satisfaction with municipal services.

Examples of preventive maintenance work for Public Works:

  • Road resurfacing
  • Bridge inspections
  • Pothole repairs

Example assets:

  • Roads
  • Bridges
  • Public buildings

Preventive Maintenance for Water Systems

Preventive maintenance for water systems is critical for providing safe drinking water and managing wastewater.

Examples of preventive maintenance work for Water Systems:

  • Pipe inspections
  • Water quality testing
  • Leak repairs

Example assets:

  • Water treatment plants
  • Pipes
  • Sewer systems pumps

Preventive Maintenance for Park Systems

Preventive maintenance for public parks and recreational facilities is important to keep parks and playgrounds safe and available for community use and enjoyment.

Examples of preventive maintenance work for Park Systems:

  • Playground inspections
  • Landscaping
  • Trail maintenance

Example Assets:

  • Parks
  • Facilities
  • Sports fields
  • Playground equipment

Why Is Preventive Maintenance Important?

Preventive maintenance is crucial because it ensures both safety and operational efficiency, keeping people safe while also helping organizations get the most usable life out of their asset investments.

By regularly inspecting and servicing equipment before issues arise, organizations can reduce downtime, enhance worker safety, and meet regulatory standards.

Even though it’s done before something goes wrong, preventive maintenance is actually very cost-effective when compared to reactive maintenance (in which you only address problems after they have become significant).

The reason? When you catch an issue early, before it gets worse, the fix can also be simple and inexpensive. If you wait until something goes wrong, the solution can be incredibly expensive, and may even require replacing the asset altogether.

Preventive maintenance forms a vital part of strategic budget planning, enabling a holistic approach to organizational goal-setting and resource allocation.

The Top 6 Benefits of Preventive Maintenance

Here are the top benefits organizations realize from using preventive maintenance in their asset management.

1. Savings

The price of preventive maintenance is almost always less than that of reactive maintenance, which only deals with an issue or equipment failure after it’s happened. By addressing issues before they escalate into major problems, preventive maintenance significantly reduces the need for extensive repairs, thereby lowering overall repair costs.

2. Optimized Asset Longevity

Preventive maintenance significantly enhances the longevity of assets by ensuring they operate within their designed parameters, thus reducing wear and tear and extending their functional lifespan. Doing maintenance proactively minimizes the need for major repairs and replacements, maximizing asset utilization and value over time.

3. Reduced Downtimes

Preventive maintenance proactively identifies and rectifies minor issues before they escalate into major failures, significantly reducing unexpected equipment downtime and ensuring continuous operation.

For private companies, reduced downtimes can equal hundreds of thousands or even millions of savings a day. For local governments, reduced downtimes ensure uninterrupted service delivery, helping keep residents happy.

4. Enhanced Safety

Preventive maintenance ensures that equipment operates safely, identifying potential hazards before they can lead to accidents, thus significantly enhancing workplace safety for workers. This is especially important for safety-critical areas, like playgrounds, in which equipment failure could lead to injury.

5. Help with Compliance and Reporting

Preventive maintenance helps ensure that equipment and operations comply with regulatory standards, minimizing the risk of violations and associated penalties.

6. Improved Budget Management

Preventive maintenance allows for better forecasting and allocation of maintenance funds, reducing the likelihood of unexpected repair costs and facilitating more effective budget management.

What Are the Types of Preventive Maintenance?

Preventive maintenance work falls into three categories.

Those categories are:

  • Condition-based maintenance
  • Usage-based maintenance
  • Time-based maintenance

Keep reading to learn more about each one.

Condition-Based Maintenance

Condition-based maintenance uses real-time data to monitor equipment’s health, triggering maintenance based on specific indicators.

Some specific examples of those indicators include:

  • Unusual sounds
  • Temperature changes
  • Vibrations
  • Visible wear and tear

Put simply, condition-based maintenance asks those in the field to pay attention to the assets they oversee and, if they notice something unusual, investigate it more closely to surface potential cleaning or repair needs.

Condition-based maintenance is cost-effective, ensuring that maintenance is only performed when necessary and allowing for timely interventions while ensuring assets maintain optimal performance. This approach helps prevent unexpected failures through close observation, requiring vigilance and quick a response to the actual condition of the asset.

Usage-Based Maintenance

Usage-based maintenance is tailored according to how frequently equipment is used, focusing on practical metrics to determine a cadence for inspections and repairs.

Some specific examples of those practical metrics include:

  • Runtime
  • Cycle counts
  • Operating hours
  • Miles traveled

This approach ensures that maintenance efforts are directly proportional to actual usage, optimizing resources and preventing the unnecessary servicing of less frequently used machinery.

For instance, vehicles might undergo maintenance only after reaching specific mileage, ensuring both efficiency and cost-effectiveness in operations.

Time-Based Maintenance

Time-based maintenance, often referred to as calendar-based maintenance, is a preventive strategy scheduled at regular intervals, which often come from manufacturer recommendations.

Some specific examples of timelines include:

  • Weekly
  • Monthly
  • Quarterly
  • Bi-annually
  • Annually

This common approach is typically dictated by the manufacturer’s recommendations and can vary from weekly to yearly, depending on the asset.

A classic example of time-based maintenance is replacing an air filter every three months to ensure optimal air quality and equipment efficiency.

While highly effective for maintaining regular upkeep, it’s important to adjust maintenance schedules based on actual usage to avoid unnecessary tasks in less utilized areas, ensuring resources are used efficiently.

Limits of Preventive Maintenance

Preventive maintenance is critical for extending the lifespan of equipment and ensuring operational efficiency.

However, it does have limitations—keep reading to learn more.

1. Success Rate

While it reduces equipment failure risks, it can’t guarantee elimination.
Unpredictable events like natural disasters aren’t covered.

2. Technological Constraints

Some assets lack sensors, limiting failure prediction capabilities.
Predictive maintenance offers more precise forecasts through algorithms.

3. Upfront Costs

Initial investments may be challenging for smaller budgets. Includes costs for planned downtimes.

4. Time Constraints

Requires equipment downtime, potentially affecting production.
Finding maintenance windows can be challenging.

5. Worker Limitations

Might need additional staffing or overtime. Proper implementation demands resources.

6. Over Maintenance

Risks wasting resources on unnecessary tasks. Maintenance plans should adapt based on data analysis.

These points highlight the importance of a balanced and informed approach to preventive maintenance within an organization’s overall maintenance strategy.

Key Tools for Preventive Maintenance

In preventive maintenance, a variety of tools play a crucial role in ensuring equipment and systems are operating efficiently and safely. These tools range from basic hand tools and measuring devices to advanced technology like drones and robotic crawlers.

Here’s an overview of the main tools used in preventive maintenance:

  • Hand tools and measuring devices. Essential for basic repairs and checks. Includes wrenches, screwdrivers, and multimeters for electrical testing.
  • Drones. Used for inspecting hard-to-reach places like rooftops, towers, and large machinery. Drones equipped with cameras and sensors can quickly gather data without the need for scaffolding or ladders.
  • Robotic crawlers. Employed in pipeline inspections and confined spaces. Crawler robots can navigate through narrow areas, providing video feedback and utilizing sensors to detect issues like leaks or corrosion.
  • Vibration analysis tools. Help in identifying wear and tear in rotating machinery by analyzing vibration patterns.
  • Thermal imaging cameras. Detect heat signatures that indicate electrical faults, insulation breakdowns, or other issues that may not be visible to the naked eye.
  • Ultrasonic leak detectors. Use sound waves to detect gas or liquid leaks, even in noisy industrial environments.
  • Condition monitoring software. Collects data from various sensors and tools, analyzing it to predict potential failures before they occur.

These tools not only help in identifying potential problems early but also significantly reduce downtime and maintenance costs by allowing for timely repairs and adjustments. For more in-depth information, researching specific tools and their applications in preventive maintenance can provide a wealth of knowledge.

Choosing and Implementing Software for Preventive Maintenance

All of these tools help you collect data. But how do you store and analyze that data to get useful reports that can actually inform your decision-making?

Software—that’s how.

Good asset management software should provide:

  • Asset tracking and identification. Create a centralized repository of all assets, including their details, location, maintenance history, and associated documentation.
  • Maintenance management. Offer preventive and corrective maintenance capabilities
  • Work order management. Let you tie the cost of labor to specific tasks as well as letting you automate your work orders to avoid the need for manual updates and reminders
  • Future planning tools. Let you create future scenarios to understand
  • Risk management tools. Let you calculate risk so you can make key decisions about how to allocate limited resources

Learn more about how Cartegraph Asset Management supports preventive maintenance.

7 Steps for Implementing Your Asset Management System

When starting the process of implementing a new asset management system, it’s important to understand that the effort isn’t a one-off project—it’s a process.

There is no beginning or end, but a series of ongoing steps toward creating a successful system.

Here are seven steps to help you build an asset management system that meets your unique needs.

1. Determine Your Key Players

Most system implementations are unsuccessful due to a lack of the three C’s—commitment, coordination, and communication.

The key to keeping the process moving forward is to build agreement throughout your entire organization from the get-go, looping in all areas that will use, manage, approve, and purchase your system components.

2. Define Your Goals for the System

This fundamental—yet often overlooked—step in the process will make sure everyone is on the same page, aligning your efforts with the larger vision and priorities of your city, county, or state and helping establish metrics for success you can use later to evaluate the initiative.

“…This is a multimillion-dollar business. There’s a lot of money out there—taxpayer dollars. We need to be efficient and competitive, put out quality work, and have good outcomes. That’s what the citizens expect, and that’s what we should expect out of ourselves too.”
Jeremy Reichert, Transportation Dept. Operations Manager, Adams County, CO

3. Pinpoint Your System Requirements

What pain points do you want your new asset management system to solve? What does your team expect to get out of the system?

Some common requirements for park system asset management include a bi-directional GIS integration, a modern mobile application, cloud-hosting, and automated work orders. Taking time now to identify your requirements can save you major headaches down the road.

4. Identify Your Data Points

Identifying the data you need ahead of time will streamline the collection process by guaranteeing you’re only collecting the information that matters most.

Start by reviewing procedures from past inventories and current activities. Data points may come from a variety of sources, including existing databases, paper files and index cards, spreadsheets, whiteboards, paper maps, past work orders, or even the memory of current employees.

5. Verify Your Data Sources

Data in a digital format can be converted easily into your new system. But some of your data may be on paper.

If that’s the case, you’ll need to decide whether to manually key the information into the system yourself, or outsource the data entry.

6. Evaluate Your Processes

Choosing a new system is the perfect time for reevaluating how you do your work.

Why? Because a new system that runs on old practices will still provide mediocre performance. By closely evaluating your processes, you can find opportunities to improve your asset management work, making sure you upgrade your processes along with upgrading your system.

Areas to evaluate include:

  • Documentation—are there gaps in the data?
  • Workflows—are there manual steps that automation could do for you?
  • Reporting—how do you pull data together?
  • Training—how do you onboard new employees to your asset management system?
  • Asset identification and classification—are you satisfied with how you currently organize your assets?
  • Asset tracking and location management—if you didn’t have a GIS integration before but you will now, what are the implications?

7. Establish Your Timeline

Your system implementation timeline is going to be unique—just like your organization. But even though timeframes may shift, defining milestone dates will keep you moving along.

Here are some guidelines for establishing your timeline:

  • Get real. Be realistic about your system goals. Start with a manageable system and plan for future enhancements.
  • Don’t delay. Limit the amount of time for initial data entry or conversion­ this helps you avoid delaying the entire project.
  • Save room. Allow some buffer time to accommodate for changes.

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