Is it possible to perform too much preventive maintenance?

This is an interesting question because you’ll actually find some divisive information out there. While some might say yes, others might sing the praises of preventive maintenance (PM), telling you if a task is a PM it’s always worth doing. You might come out of your research with your head spinning.

Here’s the thing: any time someone is asking “can you do something too much,” the answer is probably yes. Like anything else in our lives – exercising, eating, breathing – it is entirely possible to do too much preventive maintenance.

There’s a couple of ways that preventive maintenance can be performed too often.

Creation of waste
In a manufacturing or factory environment, everything that is done or used needs to be quantified as value or waste. This means that unnecessary PM tasks can be understood as wasted money and time when those tasks are not needed.

For example, if a facility decides to perform a PM inspection on Asset X every single day, but the manufacturer only recommends weekly inspections, that’s a daily inspection’s worth of time and effort wasted every day. Technically this isn’t a bad thing – after all, you can never be too sure – but for a facility attempting to be as lean as possible, this time could be better spent on other tasks.

Overmaintenance
It’s also possible to “over maintain” equipment, which might be a confusing concept. After all, the definition of “maintain” is to keep something running well, so how can something run too well?

However, some asset factors can actually be damaging to the asset if they are overdone. Take lubrication, for example. If a technician sees that a part is sufficiently lubricated but decides to add more grease because of the PM schedule, the excess grease could actually damage other parts of the machine and cause a breakdown.

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Unnecessary expense
In some fringe cases, PM efforts can be totally wasted when the cost of parts and labor actually exceeds the cost of the asset being maintained. In cases like this, the time spent performing PMs would be better used elsewhere, while the money spent replacing or maintaining parts would be better spent on a new version of that asset.