Creating and implementing an effective maintenance plan takes time and effort, but the end result is well worth the effort. Your goal is to reach a point where preventative maintenance accounts for at least sixty percent of all maintenance tasks, and emergency maintenance is an uncommon occurrence.

The benefits are staggering. With a reactive maintenance plan, emergency work accounts for over fifty percent of all work orders, and costs up to five times more than a well-organized preventative approach.

When creating a maintenance plan, don’t make the mistake of assuming you’re working on a one-time task. An effective maintenance program is an organic entity, constantly analyzing equipment failures and work reports to fine-tune work order checklists and identify areas of concern.

Designing a Maintenance Information Loop

Most preventative maintenance plans use RMS (Reliably Centered Maintenance) methodology to build a robust maintenance information loop.

At the heart of your information loop is your computerized maintenance management system, or CMMS. The CMMS analyzes maintenance records and work order information, using the data to identify and predict appropriate maintenance tasks.

The CMMS produces a list of all required tasks, which you organize into relevant groups. Each of these groups forms the foundation for a standardized work order checklist, including standardized instructions for performing each task, which tools to use, and what safety precautions to take. Task checklists also provide some idea of what training employees need to complete each work order safely and effectively.

The next step is to use the CMMS to generate a schedule of work orders to be assigned to qualified workers. Completed work orders, including feedback from employees and details of equipment failures, are recorded by the CMMS for future reference.

Feedback and increased information on equipment failure rates is then analyzed using the same system which created the original task list, and revised to improve maintenance outcomes while reducing failure rates. Using the same system for each revision ensures consistency and maintains program integrity, so resist the urge to alter checklists without using the CMMS.

Advantages of Reliably Centered Maintenance Programs

Using an RCM system makes it possible to run a failure modes and effects analysis, or FMEA, which helps predict and plan for future maintenance tasks. The process often requires creating a hierarchy of assemblies, subassemblies, and components. This allows you to analyze specific equipment systems and identify inventory shortcomings based on the component list.

To effectively use FMEA, the root cause of any equipment failure must be identified. It’s not enough to report equipment is overheating—overheating is a symptom, not a cause. Identifying the root cause allows you to target maintenance tasks at the source of the problem.

When using FMEA, include the time needed to complete each individual task. This provides a clear indication of how long each work order will take, while equipment failure analysis indicates how often each work order needs scheduling.

A well-designed and consistent maintenance plan reduces downtime, saves money through preventative maintenance, and helps keep equipment running at peak capacity. Any time and effort put into creating a maintenance plan sees a dramatic return on investment.