Preventative Maintenance Plans: 5 Common Mistakes You Need to Know
Preventive maintenance plans are no small feat. If you’re accustomed to reacting to unexpected breakdowns and critical emergency repairs, a preventive maintenance plan will force you to think months, even years ahead. This may take you out of your comfort zone, but it will instill peace of mind knowing that your critical assets are covered.
Preventative maintenance is time-consuming, but worthwhile. Maintenance schedules reduce the number of unexpected equipment downtime, maximize asset life expectancy, and can result in numerous potential for cost savings . In order for your plan to work, you must get your teams to buy-in because they will most likely be the one executing the plans you create.
You may be eager to get started with creating and implementing your plan, but before jumping in head first, let’s take a look at possible pitfalls to avoid which can be costly to undo and what’s the role of a CMMS in all of this. Remember, this is just as much a change in mindset and behavior as it is a change in the way your company has been responding to calls for maintenance.
The Five Mistakes
1. Not involving the appropriate team members
When creating a plan, it is important to get buy-in from personnel in charge of managing the change. Strong support from upper management will send a cohesive message to staff that will be easy to embrace, especially when it’s followed by written procedures.
Without buy-in or cohesive communications, employees might not take this as seriously as they should. Additionally, a mixed message and poor communication with the staff will slow down the process because no one will be on the same page.
That is why you need to make sure everyone involved knows how the process will unfold and what are their responsibilities.
For instance, you might need to ask for an additional budget to purchase a CMMS. If the upper management didn’t know about this possibility or you didn’t get their seal of approval beforehand, you might have to stop your project before it even begins.
2. Failure to create (and follow) written procedures
When businesses are transitioning from a reactive maintenance mindset to a proactive preventive maintenance way of operating, it may take some practice for old habits to die. Simply put, running around fixing stuff as they are breaking down versus planning ahead and doing preventing work like lubrication and inspections is a huge change in the workflow and the way one needs to think about maintenance.
Working in a reactive environment may be reflected in poor record keeping, multiple spreadsheets and outdated or even worse, no written procedures for maintaining the company’s assets.
While this might be worse case scenario, having written procedures on how to maintain every item on the PM equipment list helps eliminate costly mistakes and oversights and will ensure every equipment is looked at in a way that lines up with your experience of the equipment’s history of breakdowns or the manufacturer recommendations for daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, semi-quarterly and annual inspections.
But this is not where the story ends.
Even if you have written procedures, that doesn’t mean every technician will follow them.
This report on following procedures in aviation maintenance says: “an FAA study regarding major malfunctions that occurred within 90 days of a heavy maintenance check found that the number one reason for malfunction was the failure to comply with maintenance documentation.”
They also cite another research that shows the same trend: “Walker (2005) reported similar findings in an analysis of offshore oil rig accidents. Overall, 31% of accidents involved maintenance procedures, 55% of those were classified as failure to follow procedures”.
Again, having a CMMS where you can create a list of tasks that maintenance technicians need to check as they finish executing them is a good way to track if everything has been done according to plan.
3. Having an inadequate equipment inventory
The equipment inventory is a crucial part of a comprehensive PM plan and schedule. You’ll have to decide which equipment will be added to the plan and which will be left off.
As a rule of thumb, if the asset is costly to repair and would be a major disruption to the company if it went down, then it should be the first one to get added to the PM plan. On the other hand, if you have an old piece of equipment you plan to replace as soon as breaks down, you probably don’t want to waste your time putting it on the preventive maintenance program.
The equipment inventory should include information such as model, make and serial number as well as the areas of the equipment that needs regular attention.
Failure to have an inventory that can explain the needs of each equipment and other important manufacturer’s information will mean that your preventive maintenance plan will be based on guesses and not on real information. This can often result in parts of the equipment that get overlooked during inspections or critical oversights that can mean the difference between having a preventive maintenance plan and not.
4. Staff is not properly trained
What good is a plan that nobody follows? Having a preventative maintenance plan in place is the first step in running the facility more efficiently and reducing the cost of operations. The second step is having staff that is fully aware of the plan and trained to carry out the procedures and tasks of that plan regularly.
According to this article from Reliability Web, in one of their assessment of the skills of maintenance personnel in the US and Canada, 80 percent of technicians scored less than 50 percent of where they need to be in the basic technical skills to perform their jobs.
The same article goes to cite how “Increasing an individual's educational level by 10 percent increases productivity by 8.6 percent”.
Whether it’s training staff on using new technology to track the scheduled repairs or training them on what, when, and how something needs to be done - properly trained staff will ensure your preventive maintenance program stays on track.
Staff in charge of ensuring the critical assets are running properly and repaired to spec should also know the inner workings of the equipment - the parts most likely to wear and need replacement and frequency certain areas should be looked at or replaced. Without this insight, you will be doing a lot of corrective maintenance as you will again be doing more unplanned than planned work.
5. Setting it and forgetting it
Once your system is implemented, the staff is adequately performing the tasks outlined and vendors are scheduled for routine maintenance, don’t think your job is over. The PM program needs constant monitoring and tweaking, especially if this is your first one. You’ll want to have a way to track the effectiveness of the program . You also want to be sure that the assets are being maintained regularly but that any redundancies or unnecessary steps are eliminated.
For instance, the manufacturer’s recommendation may be to change filters monthly, but with regular monitoring of your systems, you may find that your unit’s filters are not dirty enough to replace monthly and can stand two extra months, so the filter change schedule would change to replacing quarterly instead of monthly.
That often happens because the manufacturer’s recommendations are based on running your asset at a certain capacity for a certain amount of hours per day. If you run that asset for fewer/longer hours or at a lower/higher capacity, you should account for that when scheduling preventive maintenance tasks.
No More Emergencies
Creating and implementing a preventive maintenance plan is a critical step toward improving the overall functions of your assets and improving your company’s bottom line when done correctly. Mistakes can be costly to undo and time-consuming to repair, so make sure your plan is set up according to manufacturer maintenance recommendations and avoid the pitfalls that can easily place you back into emergency mode.
Who knows, maybe you’ll soon realize that you can take this a step further and move onto implementing a predictive maintenance program .
Author: Bryan Christiansen is the founder and CEO at Limble CMMS. Limble is a modern, easy to use mobile CMMS software that takes the stress and chaos out of maintenance by helping managers organize, automate, and streamline their maintenance operations.
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