How To Prepare A Preventive Maintenance Checklist [Examples Included]
Checklists can be a great tool to standardize routine tasks that have to be run regularly. In the same fashion, a preventive maintenance checklist can be used to streamline a variety of preventive maintenance tasks.
However, preventive maintenance checklists are only useful if created with a purpose and include all of the necessary information.
To help you make the most of your PM checklists, this post will:
briefly discuss the main benefits of preventive maintenance checklists
list information sources you want to check before creating them
outline information that should be included on a preventive maintenance checklist
look at a few examples used in practice
show how you can easily create maintenance checklists using Limble’s PM Builder
Why we need preventive maintenance checklists
Having an official list of steps to follow when conducting a routine maintenance task has many benefits. Here are the four main ones:
1) Workflow standardization and increased productivity
There are many wrong ways to do a job, but there is only one way to do a job right in the minimum required time. Outlining steps technicians should take during a PM improves productivity, helps new people to do the job properly with minimal supervision, makes it easier for one technician to jump in and finish the job that someone else started, and, most importantly, improves the overall quality of work. Use SOPs to standardize maintenance work across the board.
2) Improved safety
An effective preventative maintenance schedule avoids equipment failure, which can represent not only decreased productivity but also workplace safety risks to employees. In addition, a preventive maintenance checklist reduces human errors and contains important safety instructions that minimize the chance of injury.
3) Faster troubleshooting
When you know the maintenance plan of each piece of equipment as well as who is responsible for it, it becomes easier to identify why something went wrong. Fewer reasons to account for means less time somebody has to spend on troubleshooting.
4) Better maintenance planning
Since there is a clear list of steps everyone should follow, it is much easier to estimate how much time a technician needs to complete their assigned tasks. This means that a maintenance manager will have an easier time scheduling and managing maintenance work.
Three things you should do before creating PM checklists
It is very likely that you want to create maintenance checklists as a part of your preventive maintenance strategy. If that is indeed the case, then most of these steps should already sound familiar.
Create a list of assets that need PMs.If you only have a few assets in mind for a preventive maintenance checklist, you can skip this step. For those who plan to create checklists for dozens of assets, it pays to be strategic and have everything in one place, especially if you don’t already track them with a CMMS. To learn more about CMMS, check our What is a CMMS System and How Does it Work guide.
Gather original equipment manufacturer (OEM) manuals. You don’t need all of them, obviously. Manuals of assets you’re doing PM checklists for will suffice. 🙂
Review asset history. Over time, assets can acquire unique trends because of frequent breakdowns, use of non-original spare parts for example. This means that additional predictive maintenance actions should be taken on top of what is outlined in the OEM manual. Check your equipment maintenance logs to learn more about it.
Anatomy of a good preventive maintenance checklist
Besides looking at examples (which we will do later), the easiest way to prepare a good PM checklist is by learning what should be included in one.
Components that make a good PM checklist
1) Preparation details
tools needed to complete the work
spare parts needed to complete the work
estimated time it takes to complete the work
2) Safety details
required personal protective equipment (PPE)
3) Visual aids (if necessary)
Of course, besides everything mentioned above, you have to also outline the actual steps. How those steps should be constructed is what we are going to cover next.
Characteristics of a good PM checklist
1) The steps are communicated clearly and concisely
Having too much information can be just as confusing as having too little. Finding the balance can be tricky. In general, a good PM should be simple enough for a new maintenance technician to follow with minimum supervision.
Here are some tips to follow:
Avoid writing long paragraphs. It doesn’t look great in a CMMS (especially on a mobile phone) and it definitely doesn’t look better on paper (often you don’t even have enough room on a paper sheet for long explanations). Instead, consider breaking it into multiple short steps.
If something needs a detailed explanation, consider using a diagram or a picture instead (and annotate it if necessary).
Every step should have a purpose. If it doesn’t have a purpose, it probably shouldn’t be included on the checklist in the first place.
Be precise. If an asset has 2 evaporator coils and you have a step called “check the evaporator coil“, that is obviously not precise enough. Which one should the technician check? Maybe both? If they have to ask around, your checklist could be more precise.
2) The steps are laid out sequentially
Step-by-step checklists should always present a list of actions to be followed in the exact order in which they should be completed.
3) The information is regularly updated
Creating a PM checklist is not something you should just set and forget. Here are a few reasons why you need to update PM checklists regularly:
field technicians must be suggesting adjustments to optimize the process – and you should be listening to them.
sometimes an asset breakdown causes an issue that can’t be fully fixed (i.e. part XY is loose/cracked so a technician needs to be very careful when removing the casing)
sometimes an asset maintenance plan needs adjustments based on environment changes (i.e. HVAC transferred in place with more dust and higher humidity so now the air filter should be replaced every time as opposed to every other time)
often, there will be new assets coming in and that will require some updates on the PM checklist
BONUS TIP: When you have your preventive maintenance checklist ready, run it by an experienced maintenance technician to ensure you didn’t miss/skip a step or two. After all, they are the ones that have done this task a million times before and know the specifics of the assets in question. Alternatively, you can ask a senior technician to create it in the first place.
Examples of preventative maintenance checklists
If you do a simple Google search, you can find quite a few different variations of preventative maintenance checklists. In the following examples, we’ll show you a few favorites so you get a better idea of what will be the best way to do it for your company.
HVAC preventative maintenance checklist
Here’s an example of one HVAC preventive maintenance checklist for air conditioner:
Check and adjust the thermostat.
Check the condenser coil to determine if it needs cleaning.
Check all wiring and connections to controls and electrical connections.
Check blower belt wear, tension, and adjust.
Check voltage and amperage draw on all motors with a meter.
Check the compressor contactor.
Visually inspect compressor and check amp draw.
Check start capacitor and potential relay.
Check the pressure switch cut-out setting.
Replace air filter or clean reusable type filter.
The full steps can be found in these templates created by iAuditor. They are a better alternative for paper (but still can’t measure up to the added functionally that CMMS can provide). Below you can see an example of a report that follows this exact template.
The checklist follows most of the guidelines we mentioned. Since the actions technicians need to take are not really dangerous, there is no need for specific safety instructions.
Forklift maintenance checklist
As with HVACs, the maintenance checklists you use will depend on the type of forklift you have.
For the purpose of this example, here’s a basic non-driving checklist:
Check your fluid levels (i.e., fuel, water, hydraulic).
Look for visible damage.
Check tire condition and pressure and adjust if necessary.
Check the condition of the forks.
Check if the inspection stickers and decals are in the right place and legible, and adjust if necessary.
Check the operator’s compartment is clean and free of debris, and clean if it isn’t.
Check if safety devices (i.e., seat belts, finger guards) are working properly.
While we are here, let’s also look at a more detailed example used in practice that is a little bit different from the HVAC one we shared above
This is a template for electric forklift inspection from APC solutions. This is how a checklist looks when you rely on pen and paper. You have to include the details like operator name, forklift number, forklift model, etc. When you are using a CMMS, most of this “administrative” data is automatically tracked by the software itself since the assets, and all of its details are already saved in the CMMS database.
Pass-or-fail checklist example
The preventive maintenance checklists you can see above are your standard step-by-step maintenance checklists. However, there is one other type of checklist you can employ, and they are called pass-or-fail checklists.
As their name suggests, pass-or-fail maintenance checklists serve to test the asset against predetermined criteria. The test can involve a visual inspection (is something broken/missing or not) or something more “advanced” like measuring the temperature level of a certain component (if the temperature is inside normal levels, the asset/component has passed the test and vice versa).
Here are a few examples of a pass-or-fail checklist:
checking temperature, vibrations, pressure, or oil levels
measuring tire tread on a forklift
checking voltage in cables, wires, circuit breakers
analyzing whether railings are in good condition or not
verifying whether the fire extinguishers are in the right place
What happens if an asset/equipment/part doesn’t pass the test?
This depends on the workflow and best practices you established at your organization. What should happen is to create a work order (WO) to deal with the spotted problem.
3 common scenarios play out in these situations:
The pass-or-fail test was performed by a machine operator (common for organizations running autonomous maintenance). The component didn’t pass the test, so the operator immediately notified a responsible person on the maintenance team, who then generated the Work Order for fixing the issue.
The pass-or-fail test was performed by a maintenance technician, but they can’t fix it right away because they need the right equipment. So, they generate a work order to deal with it as soon as possible and avoid machine downtime.
The pass-or-fail test was one of the tasks on a bigger preventive maintenance checklist performed by a maintenance technician. The asset didn’t pass the test, but the technician corrected the issue on the spot. There was no need to generate WO. The performed actions were saved in the equipment maintenance log.
Manage maintenance checklists with Limble’s PM Builder
By now, you should have a pretty good sense of how a good preventive maintenance checklist looks like. However, the process becomes much easier and automatic if you can rely on CMMS software.
Let’s take a look at how you can quickly create checklists with Limble’s PM builder.
To give you a quick teaser, this is the example we are working towards as we try to replicate the air conditioner checklist outlined in one of the earlier template examples.
How to set up a PM checklist with Limble
DISCLAIMER: Instructions and images used in the following example are for illustrative purposes and serve to showcase some of the capabilities of the PM builder.
To start with, the maintenance manager creating the checklist should navigate to “PMs” in the dashboard and click on “New PM Template”. See below:
After that, they will choose if they want to create a blank template or reuse one of the existing ones.
The next step is to enter the spare parts and build the checklist.
In the picture above, you can see we already entered some spare parts that might be used for this PM.
When you click on “Add Instruction,” you get to choose between several different types of instructions. This gives you a lot of flexibility to build precise instructions.
For this example, we entered some basic instructions that show how a simple preventative maintenance checklist might look like in Limble.
If you want, you can use the button in the upper right corner to test it. If not, this is it; your preventive maintenance checklist is ready to be used. Simple as that!
How to complete work using Limble’s PM checklists
Besides streamlining the checklist creation, Limble CMMS facilitates technicians’ jobs on the field as well.
With Limble CMMS mobile app, technicians can see maintenance steps using their mobile phones. Technicians can check off outlined steps as they are completed. In the end, they can leave their completion notes.
Once they hit the “Complete” button to submit the work, Limble immediately prompts them to mark how much time did they spend and which spare parts did they actually use (if any).
The best part is that the software actually tracks how much time the technician spent on the task and sends out a notification. This way, the technician doesn’t have to worry about secondary tasks and concentrates only on proper operation.
We know that not everyone is thrilled about starting a trial to test out a certain product. This is one reason we built a test environment you can use to play around with Limble’s features as much as you want.
It is completely free. You can access it by clicking on this link (after the click, wait a few seconds, and the test environment will load in this tab). After it loads, switch to “Desktop view” and navigate to the PMs in the left dashboard.
A PM checklist is the starting point of any successful preventive maintenance plan. It is an integral part of running a maintenance department with a proactive approach. They improve productivity, reduce human errors, and save you a ton of time, especially if you’re creating them inside your CMMS.
With little to no downsides, there is no reason why maintenance checklists shouldn’t be used in any facility on a daily basis.
If you have any questions about Limble’s PM builder or how Limble can help you run an efficient preventive maintenance program, start a discussion in the comments below or get in touch with our team through our contact form.
Bryan ChristiansenCEO & FounderLimble
November 4, 2020,
Hey, Bryan. I’m Shine, part of the team behind iAuditor by SafetyCulture. Found your awesome article about preventive maintenance and even gave our template/report as an example! We’ve updated our HVAC maintenance page recently (https://safetyculture.com/checklists/hvac-maintenance/) hoping it’s not too much to ask for a link in “these templates created by iAuditor” (the link used to be there, I think? as they’re in green but it isn’t clickable, so not sure exactly what happened) Anyway thanks, talk to you soon, and stay safe!
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