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Tips on How to Start a Preventive Maintenance Program from Scratch

Dude Solutions
  • Jul 09, 2017
  • 3 minute read

Preparation and planning often prove to be the toughest parts of someone's proactive work journey. Can we handle the current list of reactive work, do we have enough resources, where do I begin, will there be a point where we feel we are on autopilot, do we want to feel as though we are on autopilot, how do we get buy-in from our leadership, how much of our time can we dedicate?

It's tough love time... if you want to make a difference, you will have to do things differently. Consider what are your excuses vs. what are your reasons. What are little steps that can be done now, reviewed for impact and then built upon?

In any journey, you can use a plane, a train or an automobile depending on time, budget and comfort levels. Delays happen, detours occur, you watch for signs and signals, tensions may flare, you may not hit your timeframe, your clothes will be wrinkled at the end of the journey, but you breathe easier when you get there. Starting a preventive maintenance routine program is no different.

Continuing the planes, trains and automobiles metaphor:

The Automobile

Do it Yourself (DIY). It’s a longer trip, but you’re in control of what you can control.

  1. Start with health, security and safety focuses
  2. Schedule what you have to do by law, by code or by mandate
  3. Focus on business continuity: "If System ABC fails and we have to clear the area, what’s the effect?"

These schedules are not only critical to perform, they also create documentation.

Now your core is covered, then what? This is where data is essential to prioritize and to prove or disprove hunches. Look at what emergency reactive work items are trending and where. If you see that repairing door hardware is a large part of responsive work at one location and replacing drive shafts is an issue elsewhere, simply create basic “go look at ___ every ___ weeks” routines and see if trends change. If your staff knows what to do, don’t sweat the details. Update routines over the journey with schedule details such as tools and supplies to take, procedures to follow, etc.

Want to sanity check where your hot spots are? Here’s a quick trick in Excel if you do not have a CMMS or business intelligence dashboards or you prefer to generate reports yourself:

Fourthly? If you become aware that certain topics are “hot button” issues (e.g., there must be no torn or frayed flags on the property), create routines that keep the peace. Another great idea are "Tidy Friday" routines that help the following workweek flow smoothly.


It's Tidy Friday! #ACUfcm Grounds staff cleaning equipment & shops before the weekend #groundskeepers #facilities #teamwork @ACUedu

Source: ACU Facilities Mgmt (@ACUCampusMgmt)

The Plane

Consultative Services. There’s a higher investment vs. a shorter timeframe and you decide how to use your time while a professional pilot is at the helm.

Just as you have options when booking a flight such as the airline, number of stops, connecting airport, seats, etc., you have influence. A guru will determine what details to establish, while you guide them on adjustments to make and gaps to fill. It’s like the old days of flying when you could talk to the pilot while you’re in the air.

The Train

Blend of DIY and Consultative Services. It’s in the middle on time and cost, has more stops, maybe line changes, but it gets you there with reduced stress. A consultant works with you on basic “first steps,” then you take over with editing and creating preventive maintenance schedules.

Final Thoughts

If you're thinking long, be sure you're not thinking wrong. You know the ounce of prevention vs. pound of cure mantra, and you also know problems do not fix themselves — it takes action. Every journey begins with a first step — don't wait to take it.

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