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When should I perform preventive maintenance on equipment?

This is one of those questions that has nearly an unlimited number of answers. Each piece of equipment or system within a facility requires different preventive maintenance tasks, if any.

Begin by checking the OEM manual. This will typically provide you with preventive maintenance guidelines. Beyond that, you’ll want to incorporate preventive maintenance decisions into your overall maintenance program by balancing the cost of new equipment against the investment required to maintain it.

When to Schedule Preventive Maintenance

The two most common ways to schedule preventive maintenance are based on time or usage.

In the first case, you’ll determine that a particular piece of equipment should be inspected, cleaned, or maintained every so many months or years. This is akin to changing the oil in your car every three months or your furnace filter every six months.

In the second case, you’ll schedule preventive maintenance based on usage. Heavily used equipment should be serviced more frequently than under-used machinery. For example, you’d want to change the oil in your car every 3,000 miles even if you drove that distance in one month instead of three.

Best Applications

I’ve found that those pieces of equipment that are critical to the operation of your business benefit the most from preventive maintenance applications.

Look for the areas in your facility where a failure mode can be prevented with regular maintenance. Preventive maintenance tasks benefit equipment that has an increased likelihood of failure as time passes or as usage increases. In these cases, you gain time, efficiency, and money.

On the other hand, you can skip preventive maintenance on equipment like circuit boards, which tend to have unpredictable failures. If preventive maintenance tasks cannot be correlated with better performance, they may not be worth doing. In addition, preventive maintenance may not be justified on a less-expensive piece of equipment that is not critical to daily operation.

Helpful Systems

Using CMMS software can be a lifesaver when planning preventive maintenance tasks. Simply program the time or usage triggers, and your CMMS system can schedule preventive maintenance tasks for your team to complete. Record-keeping, scheduling, and resource allocation becomes simple, automatic, and efficient.