Grainger Editorial Staff
What is preventive maintenance? Any maintenance activity, such as an inspection, servicing or replacement, that's performed as part of a scheduled plan, rather than as a response to a breakdown, can be considered preventive maintenance. And what is the purpose of preventive maintenance? By identifying components or parts that are wearing out and repairing or replacing them before they fail, an effective preventive maintenance program can help limit production downtime and extend the service life of equipment and facilities.
In these theoretical terms, preventive maintenance is a simple idea. But like many simple ideas, it can be challenging to make it a reality. In practice, a preventive maintenance program can be quite complex: there's a great deal of data to be collected and analyzed, and many competing tasks to schedule, prioritize and cost.
Any preventive maintenance program can be thought of as having four general components, according to "The Complete Guide to Preventive and Predictive Maintenance" (2003). For a program to be effective, each component has to be working well. "The Complete Guide" describes the components as follows:
Engineering: Does the maintenance schedule include the right tasks, at the right frequency, to identify and remedy critical wear?
Economic: Are the scheduled maintenance activities worth doing economically? When all the costs associated with equipment failure are factored in, such as downtime and safety considerations, does it cost less to keep maintaining the asset than to replace it?
People-Psychological: Are the employees who perform the preventive maintenance sufficiently motivated and trained to do this detail-oriented work correctly?
Management: Is preventive maintenance built into business processes and operations, and are operations systems designed to produce good preventive maintenance outcomes?
Any preventive maintenance program should be clearly defined, with well-documented maintenance activities for each piece of equipment. It should also be regularly reviewed and adjusted as necessary.
Assembling a program like this can be a challenge, but the basic building blocks of what "The Complete Guide" calls the engineering component—which is arguably the most critical part—are simple processes and schedules. Consider these preventive maintenance checklists as a starting point as you think about the maintenance activities that can help keep your facility functioning.
The information contained in this article is intended for general information purposes only and is based on information available as of the initial date of publication. No representation is made that the information or references are complete or remain current. This article is not a substitute for review of current applicable government regulations, industry standards, or other standards specific to your business and/or activities and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion. Readers with specific questions should refer to the applicable standards or consult with an attorney.
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