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A preventive maintenance program is key for taking your operations to the next level — but if care isn't taken during implementation, you might make one of these four mistakes.

When building a preventive or preventative maintenance (PM) program, it’s important to ensure the new program actually represents an improvement over the reactive maintenance it’s replacing. Like any new initiative, that means ensuring the promised benefits actually come to pass with proper planning and implementation.

Facilities turn to PM for a number of reasons, notably to reduce downtime and cut related expenses. If they have the right technological solutions and organizational priorities, there’s no reason they can’t achieve these ends. However, if they fail to include the supportive back-end systems and processes, the expected efficiency may never materialize.

When organizations launch PM plans, it’s worth taking a moment to steer clear of common traps that so many maintenance teams fall prey to. Catching errors as soon as they occur is a worthwhile habit to be in, as the earlier an organization recognizes its issues, the easier it will be to correct them before they become an ingrained habit.

So, what are the most common mistakes that can derail a preventive maintenance strategy?

1. Underutilizing Technology

Even organizations on the cutting edge of technology are susceptible to using only a portion of the capabilities of their maintenance software. At the rapid pace of development today, it can be difficult for organizations that don’t prioritize training or consulting services to maximize system usage. Keep up to speed on the preventive maintenance module of your maintenance system on a regular basis:

  • Are you optimizing workloads with a Planner feature?
  • Are you incorporating Stacking Groups to combine PM procedures based on a calendar time?
  • Are your work order statuses, task categories and tasks properly configured to match your current processes?

If you’re unsure, there may be an opportunity for strong improvement.

2. Completing PMs Prior to – or After – Due Dates

Teams that are trying to get ahead of workloads may think it’s a proactive idea to close out PM work orders before they’re actually due – and, as tempting as this may be, it defeats the purpose of the PM. The same rule applies to teams scrambling to complete a PM past its due date. Regardless of labor availability, it’s critical to the success of the PM program to ensure that PMs occur when they’re supposed to, at all times.

3. Failing to Set Up User Roles and Access

Setting clear user roles to dictate user types and access to particular areas of your CMMS or maintenance software is often carried out during the consulting engagement of the software’s implementation. Processes change, personnel move on/get promoted/are hired, and the vision of user access and roles tends to fall by the wayside as implementation memories fade. It’s a good practice to cross-check processes with actual user setup in your CMMS. If PMs are to be created by maintenance only, are other users excluded from this capability? Periodic reviews of user roles can prevent circumvention of intended processes and avoid expensive mistakes.

4. Listing Unclear Tasks/Steps

Preventive maintenance tasks that lack specific steps or descriptions raise the probability for error. New technicians or external contractors can require additional assistance to navigate vague tasks, absorbing time from one or more staffers as well as additional downtime. Even if you’ve had the same seasoned team for years, misinterpretations can still occur. By taking extra care to include clear-cut notes, steps in a correct order, and related documentation and media, you can lay the foundation for easier and more accurate PM training and execution.

Reaping the Rewards

These familiar mistakes can apply to both teams new to preventive maintenance as well as experienced PM practitioners – complacency can sometimes be just as dangerous as unfamiliarity. But by building and carrying out appropriate processes, combined with support from a modern CMMS with strong PM functionality, maintenance professionals can sidestep these blunders and others. As a result, PM programs can effectively produce tangible returns in the form of decreased downtime, extended asset life, and greater productivity.

See some important trends you should know in preventive and predictive maintenance.

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