A 6-step Guide to Improving Your Preventive Maintenance Program

A preventive maintenance program is one of the key aspects of keeping your plant running smoothly. Without it, you will experience many failures and downtimes that can cost your organization up to millions of dollars. 

If you’re a maintenance manager working in a highly reactive working environment, you’re probably looking for ways to improve your Preventive Maintenance Program, right? But it can be difficult and overwhelming. Especially if you don’t know where to start. In this article, we will detail 6 steps that will help you create a more efficient PM program.

See, the problem with most organizations is that their Preventive Maintenance Programs are ineffective and inefficient. As John Moubray, the father of RCM II, pointed out in his book “Reliability Centered Maintenance”—  

“Typically, between 40%–60% of the PM tasks in a preventive maintenance program add little value.”   

They are often filled with tasks that do not add value. 

And that’s because many organizations lack a systematic approach to matching the right type of maintenance to the failure mode that is being analyzed, leading to ineffective maintenance. 

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Improving a preventive maintenance program doesn’t have to be complicated, expensive, or require fancy software as most organizations believe. 

Before Improving your Preventive Maintenance Program

But before improving your PM program, you need to ensure that all parties involved in the process (including you) have a fundamental understanding of the 9 Principles of Modern Maintenance.

Next, you need to be prepared to work with a diverse team. There will be input from different backgrounds, technical trades, and skills. 

Finally, you need to start making decisions based on data and facts, rather than personal experiences or opinions.

If you have all those covered, then you can finally start improving your Preventive Maintenance Program.

Step 1: Analyze your Program

The first step in improving your PM program is to look at what you are currently doing and see what is working and what isn’t. Look at the equipment that is being maintained and the frequency of maintenance. And then, answer these guiding questions:

  • Are there any patterns or trends? 
  • Which equipment or parts have failed the most?
  • Which is the most expensive?
  • Which is taking you the longest amount of time?
  • Which task is the most common?

To help you answer these questions, collect information from your computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) and pinpoint the equipment or tasks that are causing issues in your preventive maintenance program. After which, use the data collected to identify areas that need improvement the most.

Step 2: Prioritize

Once you have identified the areas that need improvement, you need to prioritize them. This means determining which areas are most critical and should be addressed first. If an equipment failure would have a significant impact on your organization, it should be given a higher priority. This step will help you focus on the most important areas and ensure that your resources are being used effectively.

Focusing on many tasks at a time can lead to frustration. A good rule of thumb is to start with tasks that are easy to do but can have a lot of impact for your organiszation. These types of tasks can build momentum and credibility for your improvement efforts, so it becomes easier to get the support that you need from your top management.

Step 3: Methodology

After identifying and prioritizing your areas of focus, it’s time to decide on the methodology you will use to improve your PM program. There are many different methodologies available, such as Reliability-centered Maintenance (RCM) and Preventive Maintenance Optimization (PMO). 

It’s important to choose a methodology that is appropriate for your organization and the equipment you are working with. You can pick which is best for your situation by reading this article on the Types of Maintenance.

Step 4: Test your Methodology

Before implementing your methodology, you should test it to ensure that it is effective. Start with a small system that is relatively easy to deliver good results with. This will help you identify problems that need to be addressed before large-scale implementation.

After evaluating the PMs on a smaller scale, you can analyze the results, summarize the benefits, and present everything to management. Extrapolate the findings to the remaining opportunities identified in step 1 so you can build a business case for a larger improvement project.

Step 5: Initiate and deliver PM improvement project

Once you have tested your methodology and made necessary adjustments, you can now start your PM improvement project. This step involves implementing the new approach across your organization and ensuring that all employees are trained and equipped to use it. It is important to communicate the changes to all employees and provide them with the support they need to make the transition. With that in mind, you will need to apply the necessary project management and change management principles to overcome resistance to implementation.

Here are some tips for successfully initiating and delivering your PM project:

  1. Very specific methodologies like PMO and RCM can be difficult to deliver successfully because they require a large amount of expertise and resources. And if you fail, it will become more difficult to get support from your top management for future improvements.
  2. If you’re hiring external contractors to implement RCM or PMO for you, you need to have support and commitment from all parties, not just for the initial pilot but also for the ongoing program.
  3. You don’t need expensive technology or software to create a successful preventive maintenance program.
  4. Make sure that you have effective work instructions that are sufficiently detailed, and properly controlled so that you reduce variability in task execution and improve the effectiveness of your PM Program.

Step 6: Create a system for evaluation and improvements

The last step is to build a system for feedback, evaluation, and improvements into your PM program. This means regularly reviewing the program to see if it’s working, and then making adjustments as needed. This step is important because it ensures that your PM program is continuously improving and stays current and effective.

Final Thoughts

Improving your PM program doesn’t have to be complicated. You just need to apply the basic principles of a modern maintenance program. And by following the six steps outlined in this article, you can improve your PM program and ensure that your equipment and machinery are functioning properly. 

Remember to analyze your current program, prioritize areas for improvement, develop an effective methodology, test it, initiate and deliver the PM improvement project, and finally build a system for continuous improvement. With a well-designed and executed PM program, you can minimize downtime and prolong the life of your equipment.

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