Four preventive maintenance mistakes to avoid

When building a preventive maintenance (PM) program, it's important to ensure the new program represents an improvement over the reactive maintenance it's replacing and that it includes the necessary supportive back-end systems and processes to ensure the program is efficient.


By taking extra care to include clear-cut notes, steps in a correct order, and related documentation and media, you can lay the foundation for easier and more accurate PM training and execution. Courtesy: Smartware GroupWhen building a preventive maintenance (PM) program, it's important to ensure the new program represents an improvement over the reactive maintenance it's replacing. That means ensuring the promised benefits of preventive activity come to pass. Facilities turn to PM for a number of reasons such as reducing downtime and cutting related expenses. If they have the right technological solutions and organizational priorities, there's no reason they can't achieve these ends. However, if they don't include the supportive back-end systems and processes, the expected efficiency may never materialize.

Staying the course

When organizations launch PM plans, it's worth taking a moment to steer clear of common traps that so many maintenance teams fall prey to. Catching errors as soon as they occur is a worthwhile habit to be in because it's easier it to correct them before they become an ingrained habit.

Companies should watch for these four potential mistakes that could derail a PM strategy from realizing its potential:

  1. Underutilizing technology: Even organizations on the cutting edge of Industrie 4.0 are susceptible to using only a portion of the capabilities of their computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) or enterprise asset management (EAM). At the rapid pace of development today, it can be difficult for organizations that don't prioritize training or consulting services to maximize system usage. Keep up to speed on the preventive maintenance module of a maintenance system on a regular basis. If this isn't being done, there may be an opportunity for strong improvement.
  2. Completing PMs prior to or past due dates: Teams that are trying to get ahead of workloads may think it's a proactive idea to close out PMs before they're actually due-and, as tempting as this may be, it defeats the purpose of the PM. The same rule applies to teams scrambling to complete a PM past its due date. Regardless of labor availability, it's critical to the success of the PM program to ensure that PMs occur when they're supposed to, at all times.
  3. Setting up correct user roles and access: Setting clear user roles to dictate user types and access to particular CMMS areas is often carried out during the consulting engagement of a maintenance software implementation. Processes change, personnel move on/get promoted/are hired, and the vision of user access and roles tends to fall by the wayside as implementation memories fade. It's a good practice to cross-check processes with actual user setup in the CMMS: if PMs are to be created by maintenance only, are other users excluded from this capability? Periodic reviews of user roles can prevent circumvention of intended processes and avoid expensive mistakes. Taking extra care to include clear-cut notes, steps in a correct order, and related documentation and media helps lay the foundation for easier and more accurate PM training and execution. 
  4. Listing unclear tasks/steps: PMs that lack specific steps or descriptions raise the probability for error. New technicians or external contractors can require additional assistance to navigate vague tasks, absorbing time from one or more staffers as well as additional downtime. Even if there's been little turnover within the team, misinterpretations can still occur. Taking extra care to include clear-cut notes, steps in a correct order, and related documentation and media can help lay the foundation for easier and more accurate PM training and execution.

Reaping the rewards

These familiar mistakes can apply to both teams new to preventive maintenance as well as experienced PM practitioners-complacency can sometimes be just as dangerous as unfamiliarity. But by building and carrying out appropriate processes, combined with support from a modern CMMS with strong PM functionality, maintenance professionals can sidestep these blunders and others. As a result, PM programs can effectively produce tangible returns in the form of decreased downtime, extended asset life, and greater productivity.

- This article originally appeared on Smartware Group's blogSmartware Group is a CFE Media content partner.

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