How To Prepare A Preventive Maintenance Checklist [Examples Included]

Building preventive maintenance checklists

Checklists can be a great tool to standardize routine tasks that have to be run on a recurring basis. 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 they are created with a purpose and include all of the necessary information.

To ensure your PM checklists are practical to use, continue reading this article as we:

  • 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 do 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.

2) Improved safety

A smart preventive maintenance checklist should reduce human errors and contain important safety instructions that minimize the chance of injury. More on that later in the article.

3) Faster troubleshooting

When everybody is performing the same actions, there is only a limited number of reasons 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 will a technician need 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

Preparations steps for preventative maintenance checklist

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.

  1. Create a list of assets that need PMs.If you only have a few assets in mind for a preventive maintenance checklist, you can just skip this step. 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.
  2. Gather OEM manuals.Not all, obviously. Manuals of assets you’re doing PM checklists for will suffice 🙂
  3. Review asset history.Over time, assets can acquire unique “characteristics” (because of frequent breakdowns, use of non-original spare parts, unique working conditions…), which means that an inspection or a PM should include additional steps on top of what is outlined in the OEM manual. Check your equipment maintenance logs and talk with your technicians to account for such issues.

Anatomy of a good preventive maintenance checklist

Besides looking at examples (which we will do later), the easiest way to learn how to prepare a good PM checklist is by learning what should be included in one.

Components that make a good PM checklist

Components of preventive maintenance 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

  • safety instructions
  • required personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • LOTO instructions

3) Visual aids (if necessary)

  • pictures
  • diagrams
  • videos

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

Characteristics of preventative maintenance checklists

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 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, does it need to be on the checklist in the first place? Probably not.
  • 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. The alternative is to just list out things that need to be checked and replaced in random order. We leave up to you to decide which approach makes more sense.

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:

  • technicians that use it in the field suggest some changes to optimize the process
  • asset breakdown caused an issue that hasn’t been fully fixed (i.e. part XY is loose/cracked so a technician needs to be very careful when removing the casing)
  • asset now works in different conditions (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)
  • you bought a new asset and want to match it with one of the existing PM checklists

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 of those so you get a better idea of what people use in practice.

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.
Air conditioner preventive maintenance checklist
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 belt, finger guards) are working properly.

For more details, read our guide on forklift maintenance.

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.

Forklift preventive maintenance checklist template

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 these “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 checklists 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, oil levels…
  • measuring tire tread on a forklift
  • checking voltage in cables, wires, circuit breakers…
  • visual inspection (is something working or not, broken or not, missing or not…)

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 the creation of a Work Order (WO) to deal with the spotted problem.

There are 3 common scenarios that play out in these situations:

  1. 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.
  2. The pass-or-fail test was performed by a maintenance technician. They can’t fix it right away so they generate a work order to deal with it later.
  3. 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 was able to correct 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 needs to look like.

So far, we tried to give you a lot of general directions so you can create these maintenance checklists even if you do not use a CMMS. However, before we wrap up this article, 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.

Preventive maintenance checklist in Limble CMMS

Pass-or-fail checklist example

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.

The person that is creating the checklist should navigate to “PMs” in the dashboard and click on “New PM Template”.

Managing PM checklists with Limble

After that, they will be able to choose if they want to create a blank template or reuse one of the existing ones.

The next step is to enter spare parts and build the checklist.

edit PM template

At 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 very specific instructions.

PM checklist field types

For the purpose of this example, we entered some basic instructions that show how a simple preventative maintenance checklist might look like in Limble.

Preventative maintenance checklist example

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!

Using PM checklists in Limble CMMS

Up until now, you were able to see how the creation of maintenance checklists looks like from the perspective of a maintenance manager. To wrap this up, let’s also check what technicians see when they want to close the PM.

Let’s imagine that a technician went through all of the steps as it was outlined. At the end, they can leave their completion notes.

complete PM checklist

In the bottom left corner they can click to “Complete” the task. After they do that, Limble immediately prompts them to mark how much time did they spend and which spare parts did they actually use (if any).

complete maintenance checklist

If you aren’t careful, the window above shows you two neat things you might miss.

The first thing is that Limble tracks how long did the technician had the PM open for which helps technicians more accurately estimate how much time did they spent on a certain PM. The other thing is that your spare parts inventory is automatically updated depending on how many parts did the technician(s) actually use which significantly improves you spare parts inventory control.

Want to try Limble’s PM builder yourself?

We know that not everyone is thrilled about starting a trial to test out a certain product. This is one of the reasons 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, witch to “Desktop view” and navigate to the PMs in the dashboard on the left.

Key takeaways

Preventative maintenance checklists are a powerful tool and an integral part of running a proactive maintenance department. 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 can Limble 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 from.

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