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Preventative Maintenance Program: Launch Your PM Plan in 4 Steps

Every asset does not require preventive maintenance. Sometimes the cost of preventive maintenance (PM) exceeds the cost of reactive maintenance and limited downtime is acceptable for repairs. But assets that directly impact the utility of a facility or the output of a manufacturer need a preventive maintenance program. This type of program helps asset managers prevent unscheduled downtime and saves a company money.

For expensive assets that directly impact a company’s bottom line, the cost of reactive maintenance is relatively high to preventive maintenance and increases over time.


Maintenance and repair cost of preventive and reactive maintenance
Reactive maintenance has the highest repair cost and preventive maintenance has the lowest overall cost (where the two lines meet) [source]
Companies can decrease repair costs with predictive maintenance but, because the technology is relatively new, it requires more maintenance resources (more training, technicians, software, etc). For this reason, many companies move from reactive maintenance to proactive maintenance with PM.

Note: If you already have a preventive maintenance program in place, learn how to improve your existing PM program.

What is a preventive maintenance program?

A preventive maintenance program (or plan) is a set of procedures for maintenance professionals to proactively deter equipment failures. By combining a proper preventive maintenance plan with a CMMS to implement, you can reduce downtime and maintenance costs.

4 Step Plan to Create A Preventive Maintenance Program

1. Create an asset list

Before determining which assets to add to your preventive maintenance program, create an extensive list of all the assets you have. Do this with simple spreadsheet software such as Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets. Then create a column in the spreadsheet for the following items:

  • Make and model
  • Serial number
  • Category
  • Purchase cost
  • Description

Start with this basic information, then add more columns for other data you have. For instance, you can add a column for Economic Useful Life (EUL), years owned, and reactive maintenance costs up to this point. Add any other data you have that will help you prioritize assets for PMing.

2. Prioritize assets

The best way to prioritize your assets for PMing is to determine the economic value of preventive maintenance by factoring in everything from energy efficiency degradation to replacement cost.

Economic value of a preventive maintenance program
Example of how a real corporate real estate company quantified the value of preventive maintenance.

You can also rank each asset in terms of the Impact of Failure against the Likelihood of Failure. Give a score of 1 through 5 for each item, 1 being low impact/likelihood and 5 being high impact/likelihood. If you have historical maintenance data for assets to support these numbers, use it. If you don’t, use your own experience and industry benchmarks.

The mission here is to acquire and analyze as much data as possible — within a reasonable timeframe — to select the right priority levels for your assets.

Once you have identified the major assets, you can continue on to less important assets which would have a lower effect on the business if they failed. Once you have prioritized assets, you can move on to identifying failure modes.

3. Determine failure modes

Understanding the kind of failure your assets may suffer will give you a better idea of what parts you need to consider in your plan. You may have to consider bearings, sliding parts, gears, and pulley systems. You may have to assess torque settings on bolts periodically. You may need to consider parts on electric motors to prevent premature burnout.

All of these are credible failure modes to consider.

You can use an analysis tool similar to the Failure Modes and Effective Analysis (FMEA) to examine each potential failure mode for each asset and assign it a score based on possibility, frequency, and impact. This will help you determine which features you need to focus on in your preventive maintenance plan.

With these scores, it’s possible to create a criticality matrix (see below) that highlights the most at-risk components of your asset.

Preventive Maintenance Matrix

The criticality matrix helps identify which components represent the highest severity should they fail against the possibility of occurrence. This requires a high degree of asset knowledge and may be a fairly coarse measure, but it does help identify the most business critical failures.

After going through this (optional) exercise, create a parts list and assign each part to a specific asset. You can easily do this inside a CMMS, as well as create a PM schedule.

4. Add information to your CMMS

At this point you should have a good idea of which assets to prioritize for your preventive maintenance program. However, you don’t want to track your PM efforts in a spreadsheet. This is not scalable over time. A better solution is to use a computerized maintenance management solution (CMMS).

Follow these steps to use UpKeep’s CMMS to easily manage your assets, parts, and preventive maintenance program:

  1. Start with a free CMMS. You can create a free UpKeep account to manage assets/parts and create the foundation for your PM program.
  2. Import your assets. Instead of entering them in individually, import the data you collected from Step 1 with the asset import feature.
  3. Import your parts. Import any parts that are required for PMing using the data you collected from Step 3 with the parts import feature.
  4. Choose a paid plan. To start creating your PM schedule for your assets, upgrade your UpKeep account with a paid plan. Plans starts as low as $35/month.

Note: Within a CMMS, you can easily create preventive maintenance checklists to add to recurring work orders.

Track maintenance tasks to improve your PM program

Your CMMS will help you collect data to compare costs of reactive and preventive maintenance. Collecting this data will help you increase your budget for preventive maintenance in the future. For this reason, it’s also important to add assets that you are not PMing to your CMMS.

By tracking maintenance tasks for all of your assets, you and your team will have a case for making incremental improvements to your PM program.