Preventive Maintenance

What is Preventive Maintenance

Preventative or preventive maintenance is a simple method to ensure that you get reliable and efficient performance from you plant and equipment within your organization. It is important to ensure that machinery does not break down when you need it most and this simple maintenance program will help you to achieve that.

The most common example of preventative maintenance that people can easily relate to is that of automotive maintenance. We all know that to ensure reliable use of our vehicle it is important that we have it serviced every 6 to 10,000 miles depending on the manufacturer’s requirements. The same is true of our machines in our factories, we need to have them regularly maintained in much the same way, either after a period of time or a number of machine cycles as recommended by the manufacturer.

Much like our cars the maintenance required may change from service to service, some services may only require us to change the oil and others may require greater work such as the replacement of belts and other fluids.

Why do we need preventive maintenance?

Preventive Maintenance

Ensure Reliability with Preventive Maintenance

The purpose of preventive maintenance is to try to maintain the equipment in optimum working condition and to prevent any unplanned downtime due to breakdowns, breakdowns often occurring at that critical point in time when you are desperately trying to fulfill your most important customers order.

Preventive maintenance can include measuring and checking components as well as the replacement of various components just as you would replace the timing belt on your car. The reason for this is that everything wears over time and the costs of replacing some items prior to actual failure are far less than the potential consequences of failure whilst in service. Many car engines would suffer significant damage if the timing belt broke, and you would incur far greater expense than if you had just replaced the belt prior to failure.

Some people see the maintenance function as an expense and it is often one of the first departments to suffer from cuts when times become difficult, however this is very much false economy as the money spent on preventing problems from occurring will almost always be far less than the costs you will incur due to actual failures. However it is often difficult to justify “just in case” expenditure and it is all too easy to hide the costs of failure in a multitude of places within the budget.


Planned Preventive Maintenance

Within many organizations there are departments responsible for maintenance, their role is to define a planned preventive maintenance program in liaison with the production and scheduling departments to have machines released on a regular basis to enable the maintenance work to be conducted.

This planned preventive maintenance program can often be a bone of contention between the different departments with “busy” production departments often refusing to release machines due to the need to meet customer demands; however, often the reason for being busy is because of having to work around delays and quality problems caused by unreliable machines that are desperate for a service.

It is important that planned maintenance is seen as necessary and machines released when they are required, in the long run this will ease the burden on the manufacturing departments as machines will be more reliable and more efficient.


Preventive Maintenance Software

There are many software programs on the market with which to create and monitor your planned preventive maintenance program, even some that are free to download. However whatever choice you make you need to choose one that will support your system, not one that makes you have to conform to its ways of working if they do not support your company’s methods and processes.

Preventive maintenance software is required in many companies due to the complexity of tasks and numbers of machines that are required to be maintained, a good maintenance software can ease the creation of your maintenance program.


Preventive Maintenance alternatives

Preventative maintenance is not the only method through which you can maintain your machines, there are other alternatives;

Breakdown maintenance;

In some companies the only maintenance that is conducted is breakdown maintenance or repair, no servicing or preventive maintenance is done, the operators run machines until they fail and then hand them over to the maintenance technicians to fix them. Whilst for some machines this can be the most efficient and economical method for most it is not!

Predictive maintenance;

predictive maintenance is similar to preventive maintenance in that we make repairs and replacements before a breakdown can occur, the difference is that predictive maintenance uses various predictive maintenance tools such as thermal imaging and vibration analysis to predict when a breakdown is going to occur by identifying wear. This can lead to components being used for far longer periods rather than just being replaced at each service whether they need to be replaced or not.


Preventive Maintenance Video


Preventive Maintenance and Total Productive Maintenance

Preventive maintenance is an important part of any total productive maintenance (TPM) implementation as part of a lean initiative. Lean manufacturing requires for our our processes to be reliable and stable and the use of TPM and 5S allow us to build a solid base for further improvements. It would be very hard to make improvements if you could not rely on your machinery.

TPM passes some of the preventive maintenance requirements to the machine operators themselves through a system known as autonomous maintenance. This makes the operators responsible for simple maintenance tasks such as lubrication as well as inspecting and monitoring the machinery to prevent breakdowns. This allows the maintenance technicians to work on methods to make maintenance both easier and in some instances unnecessary.

TPM also goes well beyond just preventing breakdowns; it seeks to prevent all machine related losses so we look at the quality, the efficiency and the setup of our machines in addition to just purely focusing on preventing breakdowns. We use lean manufacturing tools such as SMED (Single minute Exchange of Die) to improve setup times and efficiencies and ideas like PokaYoke to prevent defects from being created by our machinery.


A planned Preventive maintenance program is part of any tpm initiative as well as being a common sense requirement for any company if they want their machines to be reliable and efficient.

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