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What is preventive maintenance and how do you get the best results?

Maintenance can become a major cost centre for companies if it’s not managed effectively. Even a small component problem can spiral into complete equipment breakdown. And with profit margins under pressure, many companies are lowering the cost of asset management by moving from a reactive to a preventative maintenance programme.

To help your company run a productive, efficient operation, Elecosoft has put together an online guide to preventative maintenance. Keep reading to discover what preventive maintenance is and how planned preventative maintenance improves performance while controlling asset management costs.

What is preventative maintenance?

There are three types of maintenance strategy that companies commonly use to manage assets:

  1. Reactive maintenance – technicians respond to performance issues and breakdowns when they are reported. It’s difficult to plan ahead with this run-to-failure strategy as downtime has usually already occurred when the problem is addressed.
  2. Preventative maintenance – planning routine maintenance activities in advance to ensure assets remain in good working order. There are three triggers for scheduling preventative maintenance: time (planning machinery maintenance jobs at certain points during the year), usage (carrying out maintenance based on machinery’s operational hours) and conditions (conducting maintenance work when machinery components begin to show performance issues).
  3. Predictive maintenance – using data analytics and AI software to forecast when maintenance needs to be performed based on predicted wear and tear. It’s a smart approach to asset management but relies on high-quality data and investment in predictive maintenance technology.

For many companies, a preventative maintenance programme is an optimal approach as it keeps operations running better than a reactive maintenance model. However, it requires less time and financial investment than predictive maintenance.

How can planned preventative maintenance enhance your business?

Most industries, from manufacturing and oil & gas to aviation and transportation, are now reliant on technology to optimise operational performance. But while digital solutions enhance operational capabilities, unplanned downtime can be catastrophic to company productivity.

Creating a preventative maintenance plan is an efficient way to make sure that key asset management tasks are completed on a regular basis, to minimise the risk of unpredicted downtime. This can include small tasks like cleaning and lubrication, plus bigger inspection, servicing and machinery repair jobs.

What are the benefits of a preventative maintenance programme?

There are significant advantages to moving from a reactive to a preventative maintenance model. These include:

  • Reliable production (with less equipment downtime) – regularly maintaining assets keeps them in good working condition, reducing the chance of sudden failures and unplanned downtime. Planning maintenance also allows technicians to either carry out work while the business is still operational. Or schedule work for quiet periods to avoid disrupting peak operations.
  • Lower maintenance costs – repairing a part before it shows significant wear and tear is cheaper than replacing it. Planned preventative maintenance can also prevent incipient failure; having to repair or replace a whole machine as a result of the damage inflicted by one failed component. Plus, regular maintenance helps to extend the lifetime of digital assets, increasing their ROI.
  • Simpler scheduling – it’s very difficult to manage the workload of engineers and technicians if they are constantly reacting to urgent problems. Planned preventative maintenance allows your business to schedule tasks evenly across the team, while still allowing room in people’s workloads to respond to unplanned maintenance requests. Better-rostered technicians can potentially complete more tasks per day (with less need to work overtime; another cost benefit).
  • Improved inventory management – a clear schedule of maintenance work makes it easier to manage component requirements and spare parts. Facilities management teams have time to order what they need in advance, rather than paying for express shipping to source components that are urgently needed to fix broken equipment. Plus, inventory information can be updated automatically if engineers are using barcode scanners to track stock levels, reducing the need for manual data entry and the human error associated with it.
  • Safe working environment – preventing severe mechanical issues isn’t just an operational benefit. It also promotes high levels of health and safety for employees who are operating complex machinery on a daily basis.
  • Lower energy consumption – optimising asset performance can enhance your company’s sustainability strategy and lower your overheads, as energy is no longer being drained by sub-par equipment. Also, work can be completed quicker when machinery is running at maximum levels.
  • Digital compliance trail – a centralised record of all maintenance activities gives your company a lifetime history of every asset. In addition to helping you plan servicing and repair activities effectively, it helps your facilities management team to meet compliance requirements and provide a digital audit trail on every update made to operational equipment.
  • Focus on the future – preventative maintenance plans naturally turn your business focus towards what’s coming up. You can use the time, expertise and budget generated by your improved asset management strategy to focus on getting more from your machinery and investing in new digital technology to prove quality, flexibility and output.

How do you create a preventative maintenance plan?

Many companies have bought into the benefits of planned preventative maintenance, but are unsure how to execute a preventative maintenance programme. Over-servicing machinery can become time-consuming and expensive, negating the benefits of preventative maintenance.

To get the best results, your company needs to create a preventative maintenance plan. Your original equipment manufacturer (OEM) manuals are a good starting point for putting a framework in place; these documents will outline basic servicing and maintenance requirements.

Use your OEM data to create a checklist for technicians and engineers, which they can work through methodically whenever maintenance work is required on that particular asset.

If your company has a large volume of assets, prioritise your critical equipment first and then add in further machinery over time. This will prevent your facilities management team from becoming overwhelmed by regular maintenance tasks. It also helps to mitigate a sudden increase in maintenance spending.

While OEM manuals are a great starting point, however, they only give you the manufacturer-recommended guidelines. They don’t provide tailored maintenance plans for your particular asset.

Once a basic checklist is in place, you can fine-tune your preventative maintenance programme based on operational data such as usage time, repair records and equipment failure rates. Creating bespoke asset management plans will help your technicians to manage machinery effectively without carrying out unnecessary work.

How does preventative maintenance software deliver the best results?

While a preventative maintenance programme can reduce the cost and complexity of asset management, it’s not easy to coordinate manually.

One solution is to outsource workload to planned preventative maintenance companies, but this can become an expensive exercise. And a third-party service won’t understand your operational needs as deeply as your maintenance team.

To get the best results from a preventative maintenance strategy, many companies choose to manage operations through CMMS software like ShireSystem by Elecosoft.

Learn more about CMMS software

CMMS technology centralises all your asset management activities. You can build short-term and long-term maintenance schedules online, align asset management requirements with inventory levels, and roster technicians based on a detailed forecast of upcoming maintenance tasks.

The main benefit of choosing CMMS software to manage preventative maintenance is the detailed, accurate data that it generates. We’ve already discussed the importance of tailoring servicing plans to your actual equipment; this process is much easier if you have CMMS software in place to capture full maintenance histories and track recurring issues.

Onboarding CMMS software also enables your operations team to create and monitor maintenance KPIs. Setting clear end goals around equipment performance, uptime, efficiency and running costs will manage the cost of your company assets. And by keeping your complete maintenance history in one place, you can review detailed insights around each KPI to understand what factors are impacting your overall results.

Plus, with CMMS technology, all information related to upcoming maintenance work (planned or otherwise) can be easily shared automatically with your technicians. Thus ensuring your team has all the information they need to act quickly and successfully using sustainable, streamlined processes.

How can ShireSystem CMMS optimise your preventative maintenance programme?

ShireSystem is a combined CMMS/CAFM solution that includes a dedicated Planned Preventative Maintenance (PPM) scheduling feature, to help companies move from reactive to proactive asset management.

Use the PPM schedule feature to create planned maintenance strategies for your company across multiple assets and locations, write checklists and safety notes, and schedule activities and resources based on time, usage and condition triggers.

In addition to helping your maintenance team plan ahead, ShireSystem includes an option to suppress PPM jobs if an urgent task arises. This way, corrective maintenance can be prioritised alongside planned preventative maintenance schedules.

ShireSystem has already helped companies like Kingspan use a preventative maintenance model to run complex multi-site manufacturing operations more efficiently.

Prior to onboarding ShireSystem, Kingspan knew certain machinery parts would fail regularly but had no accurate equipment records in place. It has been using ShireSystem to track machinery breakdowns and parts failures for more than two years, creating a valuable data thread on each asset.

“Engineers can now go in and change parts during scheduled maintenance or downtime, before a part fails in the middle of a production run,” explains divisional Projects Engineer, Conor Evans. “It increases our production line availability.”

Read Kingspan’s customer story in full.

I’m ready to onboard preventative maintenance software. What next?

If you’d like to improve equipment performance using preventative maintenance software, book a free ShireSystem demo.


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