Keeping assets in good operating condition and reducing the fear of unexpected breakdowns is the main purpose of routine maintenance.
Be it a truck, a building, a CNC machine, or a forklift, no asset is exempt from wear and tear that comes with its daily use. Routine maintenance is one way to deal with equipment deterioration before it leads to serious issues.
But, is routine maintenance the most optimal approach to maintenance across the board? What are its upsides and downsides? How can you use a CMMS to maximize the value of routine maintenance?
Read further to find out.
What is routine maintenance?
Routine maintenance is used to describe maintenance activities that are carried out on a regular basis to identify and address issues before they lead to equipment failure.
Depending on the equipment in question and the type of maintenance work required, routine maintenance can be performed on a time-based schedule (daily/weekly/monthly) or a usage-based schedule (cycles performed/miles driven/hours in use…). A time-based schedule is more commonly used.
In general, routine maintenance consists of simple tasks that require minimal training. Because of this, routine maintenance is sometimes carried out by machine operators, which frees maintenance technicians to focus on more complex tasks. This practice forms the basis of autonomous maintenance.
(Dis)advantages of routine maintenance
If you run a preventive maintenance schedule, you must have noticed that routine maintenance tasks take quite a few spots on your maintenance calendar (marked blue in the illustrative example below).
Since routine maintenance is an integral part of all preventive maintenance efforts, it brings the same set of benefits:
it improves asset lifespan
it reduces the number of unexpected equipment failures
it keeps assets in good operating condition
it helps you to better estimate your spare parts inventory needs
it is a type of maintenance work that can be standardized and optimized
While routine maintenance is crucial in keeping breakdowns at bay, there is one downside we have to talk about.
The main objection for preventive maintenance (and in extension routine maintenance) is that it often spends resources on maintenance work that might not be needed yet.
That is a valid concern, but it is something that can be addressed by optimizing your maintenance schedules.
When first creating your PM plan, you are likely going to follow the guidelines outlined in the equipment manual. Depending on the variety of factors (how accurate are the recommendations from the OEM manual, the conditions in which the machine works, replacement parts you use, how hard you push the machine…), the need for routine tasks can be higher or lower than recommended.
The best way to approach this problem is to use a CMMS like Limble to keep detailed maintenance logs and track metrics like MTBF (Mean Time Between Failures) that can give you a clue if you need to perform more or less maintenance work on specific assets.
Examples of routine maintenance
Here are some maintenance tasks that can be classified under routine maintenance:
simple maintenance tasks that are done on a regular basis like lubrication, filter changes, parts replacements, etc.
cleaning related tasks (mopping the floor, cleaning equipment, washing windows, mowing the lawn, etc.; which are more pronounced in property maintenance)
testing safety equipment
This, of course, is not a definitive list. Just a few examples so you get a better idea of what routine maintenance covers.
How Limble CMMS supports routine maintenance
Let’s not beat around the bush. Scheduling and tracking routine maintenance works best when paired with a CMMS, a mobile-enabled CMMS to be exact.
Here are a few ways in which mobile CMMS supports your routine maintenance efforts:
#1) Scheduling & managing maintenance work
So far we established that it is very important to stay on top of your routine maintenance tasks. If you want to respect your maintenance schedule, there are three conditions that every maintenance task (or any other task for that matter) needs to satisfy:
it needs to be assigned to a specific person
it needs to have a due date
you need to have the ability to easily track if tasks are being finished on time
Mobile CMMS is a perfect solution for that. It helps you:
define balanced maintenance schedules
use push notifications to quickly communicate task reassignments and task priority changes
have instant access to all active and finished maintenance tasks (all you need is internet access)
optimize maintenance schedules using detailed maintenance logs and reports
#2) Controlling spare parts inventory
Visual inspections aside, you can’t perform routine maintenance if you do not have the right tools or spare parts available. Ad-hoc solutions can only get you so far.
set up email notifications when stock quantity for a certain part is low
automatically track usage of your spare parts by making them a required item on every Work Order and PM
accurately forecast parts usage and budget for the next quarter/year
#3) Storing maintenance data
As we mentioned earlier, CMMS is very handy for optimizing your maintenance schedules. In the context of routine maintenance that means optimizing the frequency of routine maintenance tasks.
The logic is simple. If you perform routine maintenance on a machine and it still regularly breaks down, in the majority of cases, there are three reasons why that is happening:
routine maintenance tasks are too far apart
the routine work that is being performed is subpar
the machine is being misused
If you are using a CMMS, you can drill down into maintenance history and maintenance reports to find the root cause of these breakdowns. This is really important because addressing the issue is usually the easier part.
If the problem is #1 you need to increase the volume of routine maintenance tasks on that asset, if it is #2 then you can look to define clear preventive maintenance checklists, and if it is #3 you need to ensure that the machine is working in proper conditions, uses OEM approved replacement parts, and is used by sufficiently trained machine operators.
To apply the right solution, you first need to be able to correctly identify the problem.
Where to start?
It’s encouraging to see that even businesses that are still caught up in reactive maintenance perform a decent volume of routine maintenance tasks. We see that clearly when we’re helping them implement Limble into their organization.
The main problem is that they lack a proper structure, inventory control, and strong maintenance schedules – basically everything that comes with having a modern CMMS system. This results in lower productivity, excessive maintenance on some assets and not enough attention placed on others, bloated deferred maintenance backlog – and in worst-case scenarios – it leads to a constant tug of war with unplanned machine breakdowns.