Types of Preventive Maintenance

Any organization that requires maintenance for facilities, equipment, and other physical assets should have a preventive maintenance strategy. Preventive maintenance optimizes asset performance, improves operational efficiency, and enhances employee safety.

In this guide, we’ll walk through the different types of preventive maintenance strategies and when to use them. 

What is preventive maintenance?

Preventive maintenance (PM) is a proactive strategy for upkeeping an organization’s physical assets, such as manufacturing equipment, building infrastructure, and other operational systems. 

Proactive maintenance is important for organizations with long checklists of tasks and assets to maintain. It helps prevent breakdowns and unplanned downtime and contributes to improved productivity.  

Types of preventive maintenance 

Creating a PM plan for your organization is easier when you understand the types of preventive maintenance that you can use. When to use each strategy depends on your equipment and operational goals. You will likely need to take a multi-pronged approach and use a combination of each of these strategies. 

Time-based maintenance 

Time-based maintenance—also called calendar-based or periodic maintenance—is a proactive maintenance strategy where tasks occur on a predetermined schedule. When it is time to perform a maintenance task, the team performs it regardless of asset condition

Examples of time-based maintenance tasks include: 

  • Changing air filters on HVAC systems every 6 months
  • Conducting visual inspections of hydraulic systems once a week
  • Recalibrating measuring equipment annually

Finding the right balance with time-based maintenance tasks is important because performing these tasks too frequently can be a waste of time and resources, but they are also crucial preventive tasks that contribute to asset longevity

Start with the manufacturer’s recommendations to determine a time-based maintenance schedule. This strategy works well for several tasks and assets on your checklist, while other tasks may need a different approach. 

Meter-based maintenance 

Meter-based maintenance, or usage-based maintenance, determines maintenance schedules based on production cycles and operating hours. Regardless of time or asset condition, maintenance work takes place based on a certain amount of usage for the specific asset. 

Examples of meter-based maintenance tasks include: 

  • Greasing conveyor systems after 500 operating hours
  • Testing emergency stop buttons after every 50 production cycles
  • Changing coolant filters after 200 operating hours

Usage-based maintenance helps reduce the risk of equipment failure and lowers maintenance costs over an asset’s lifespan. This strategy is particularly beneficial for manufacturing equipment maintenance and fleet maintenance

Condition-based maintenance

Condition-based maintenance (CBM), or condition monitoring, is a preventive strategy that involves monitoring high-priority and critical equipment to identify risks and signs of potential failure. The objective is to proactively prevent failure rather than relying on a fixed schedule—i.e., time or meter-based maintenance. 

Examples of condition-based maintenance include: 

  • Changing vehicle tires if the tread depth is less than 2/32 of an inch
  • Monitor temperatures of manufacturing machines and schedule maintenance if temps exceed 175 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Perform balancing if rotating equipment’s vibration levels exceed allowable limits

Meter and time-based maintenance can complement CBM well. Many meter and time-based preventive maintenance tasks include inspections on a fixed schedule. These inspections reveal the condition of an asset, helping determine if additional maintenance is needed beyond the fixed maintenance schedule. 

Reliability-centered maintenance

Reliability-centered maintenance (RCM) uses a structured approach to help organizations develop plans specific to critical assets for the detection of failures as well as planning of actions to prevent them. It focuses on high-priority assets and optimizes maintenance efforts to maximize reliability and minimize downtime.

RCM begins by analyzing potential failure modes of critical assets and their consequences. Based on this analysis, it develops maintenance plans tailored to each asset’s specific needs, incorporating proactive measures to prevent failures.

Example of reliability-centered maintenance: 

RCM might involve implementing condition monitoring sensors, conducting regular inspections, or training personnel on proper maintenance procedures. For instance, a manufacturing plant might use RCM to schedule maintenance on critical machinery based on usage data and condition monitoring.

RCM is best suited for organizations with complex operations and critical assets where unplanned downtime can have significant consequences. It is particularly effective for optimizing maintenance efforts and resources in industries such as manufacturing, aerospace, and utilities.

Predictive maintenance

Predictive maintenance (PdM) is an advanced form of condition monitoring that utilizes technology like Internet of Things (IoT) sensors to monitor asset performance and conditions. Sensors on a piece of equipment provide real-time data analytics to help predict equipment failure so maintenance teams can perform tasks sooner than their fixed preventive maintenance schedule, if needed. 

Examples of data that predictive maintenance tools can identify: 

  • Vibration data to reveal abnormalities such as misalignment, imbalance, wear, and resonance issues
  • Temperatures of critical components
  • Pressure and flow rates in hydraulic and fluid systems
  • Environmental conditions like temperature, humidity, and airborne contaminants
  • Historical maintenance records to provide trending and context for condition monitoring and failure predictions

Predictive maintenance activities are best for high-priority and critical assets that would be costly to replace and whose failure modes are easy to identify with monitoring systems. 

Prescriptive maintenance

Prescriptive maintenance (RxM) uses machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) to analyze a machine’s condition and provide maintenance recommendations that will enhance longevity and prevent failure. RxM technology accesses historical records, error codes, service data, and more to create prescriptive algorithms and recommendations for failure prevention. 

Examples of prescriptive maintenance:  

  • An elevator maintenance company uses prescriptive analytics to identify problems in its elevator network. The system predicts when an elevator door will have issues and automatically schedules a maintenance team to fix the problem before it arises. 
  • Airline companies utilize RxM to diagnose early failure modes in critical power control units. When imminent failure is detected, an alert goes out and grounds the aircraft until the part can be replaced. 

Prescriptive maintenance enhances all other preventive maintenance strategies. Any company that relies on machinery can benefit from prescriptive maintenance. However, it can require a heavy investment upfront with all the tools and software necessary to implement it.  

Need help getting a preventive maintenance strategy started? Check out our Ridiculously Simple Guide to Start a Preventive Maintenance Plan

Benefits of preventive maintenance 

An effective preventive maintenance program may be costly to implement upfront, but in the long run, it provides many advantages that will save the company money and contribute to improved operations overall. 

Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of preventive maintenance

  • Increased equipment reliability: Preventive maintenance optimizes equipment performance, preventing the risk of equipment failure and enhancing asset longevity.
  • Improved safety: Routine maintenance checks and other preventive methods improve employee safety. Fewer breakdowns, better control of environmental impacts, and a streamlined maintenance process all result in a safer workplace. 
  • Cost savings: Preventive maintenance reduces the need for reactive maintenance. Less corrective maintenance results in fewer costly repairs and equipment replacements over the long term. 
  • Improved customer satisfaction: Properly maintained equipment is less likely to malfunction and produce defective products, resulting in better production times, quality, and customer satisfaction. 
  • Minimized equipment downtime: Maintenance management teams can perform preventive tasks during planned downtime, increasing uptime and overall productivity. 

Finding the right type of preventive maintenance for your organization

To determine the best type of preventive maintenance for your company, start by looking at your operational goals and the amount and types of machinery you have. 

If you only have a couple of machines to maintain, you might keep it simple with a combination of time, usage, and condition-based maintenance. If you have a larger fleet of machines, a more advanced solution may be necessary to keep up with the amount of maintenance that they will require. 

Here are some steps to help determine the right PM strategy for your organization: 

  1. Assess your needs: Evaluate each asset, its criticality, its maintenance requirements, and any regulations that it must adhere to. 
  2. Consider asset lifecycle: Look at the lifecycle of your assets to understand the maintenance needs at each stage and how a preventive maintenance strategy will play into that. 
  3. Evaluate machine complexity: More complex machinery may require condition monitoring or even predictive and prescriptive analysis. Assessing the complexity of your assets can help determine how sophisticated your PM plan should be. 
  4. Check maintenance history: Analyze maintenance records to determine how effective previous maintenance programs were. This can help determine what to use (or not use) moving forward. 
  5. Speak with experts: Industry experts, equipment manufacturers, and other maintenance professionals can consult and provide guidance on what approach to take based on your company’s needs. 
  6. Consider your resources: What resources are currently available for a preventive maintenance plan? Consider budgets, personnel, and availability of your maintenance team to implement a new strategy. Can you allocate additional resources to get started?
  7. Focus on continuous improvement: Whatever strategy you choose should contribute to improving your operations. Flexibility and adaptability are important when choosing a new strategy. Be sure to regularly review and adapt your strategy to engage in continuous improvement. 

Use CMMS technology to enhance your preventive maintenance strategy

Preventive maintenance strategies become less overwhelming and easier to achieve with preventive maintenance software. A tool like a Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) helps maintenance teams streamline maintenance activities and better monitor their assets. 

Interested in learning more? Try a free demo of Limble CMMS software, or contact our team with questions.

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