Three issues facing preventive maintenance

Make sure your work doesn't actually harm your equipment.


Maintaining equipment is one of the connecting factors between all branches of manufacturing. Companies can't produce at their highest levels without machines that are in top condition and ready to produce widgets.

That said, many organizations may not be getting their money's worth from these programs. It's time to take a close-up look at the problems that commonly afflict maintenance professionals and some solutions that might help them restore their operations to helpful status.

Flaws that demand attention

When it comes to potential issues with preventive maintenance (PM) plans, the list is long. A recent Marshall Institute post made this clear: There are many ways to get PM wrong, and many leaders will find they are currently guilty of at least one of these faults. The issues can be broken down into three categories, each of which merits attention.

  • Poor timing of tasks: The source explained that sometimes PM plans don't accurately reflect the real needs of company equipment. Either tasks are being carried out too soon (wasting effort and money) or too late (letting machinery degrade or fail). This may come from creating tasks without adequately understanding the equipment in question. However such processes were set up, they need to be noted and corrected to achieve maximum efficiency.
  • Irrelevant tasks: The Marshall Institute pointed out that occasionally tasks are copied from one type of machine to another, though they might not even be relevant to the new equipment. This leads to technicians being assigned roles incorrectly, thereby misusing time that could be spent on other work. The source elaborated that in some cases, tasks are created despite having no purpose or value whatsoever.
  • Actively harmful work: In a particularly shocking category, The Marshall Institute's report explained that some carelessly assigned PM tasks involve intrusive actions and cause harm instead of good. While it's one thing to waste time and money on meaningless tasks, ending up with processes that actually weaken machinery should be actively sought out and serve as a lesson for training initiatives.

It's clear that there are a variety of problems that can pop up inside an existing PM strategy. That said, companies have an opportunity to improve current programs. A few simple upgrades can bring a new level of discipline. Selecting a modern CMMS with a true mobile app is a leading forward direction for teams, though not one that every firm has undertaken. A recent Plant Engineering study of manufacturers found that only 51% of companies have CMMS in place now. This figure seems far too low, given the advancement in cloud technology that is so readily available today.

Seizing the opportunity

Don't be mistaken, CMMS may not be able to correct all human errors when it comes to a flawed PM strategy. But the level of automation built into powerful applications now can significantly assist in reducing inaccuracies. For example, predictive maintenance (PdM) technology can ensure that tasks are scheduled when machines need the work-whether due to meter readings that exceed thresholds or fall below limits. Combine PdM with calendar-based PMs scheduled in accordance with manufacturer's recommendations and historical performance, and task timing issues can be close to becoming eliminated.

Similarly, automated approval processes can require new PMs and their related tasks and steps to be reviewed prior to work initiation. By adding a layer of review and accountability to the process, irrelevant tasks have a greater likelihood of being caught before potentially damaging work is performed.

If your PM strategy is resulting in issues, adopting the proposed solutions above-as well as other aspects of innovative CMMS-can be one of the most beneficial actions to take. There are many things that can go wrong in maintenance, but a few simple steps can change conditions immeasurably.

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

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