Preventive maintenance checklists outline the tasks maintenance personnel need to perform when examining or repairing equipment. To create the ultimate preventive maintenance checklist, follow these steps:
These steps are outlined in more detail below, as well as some best practices and advantages for implementing PM checklists.
Why should you use preventive maintenance checklists in the first place? Well-designed checklists help reduce human error, improve reliability, and provide other benefits as detailed below.
One of the key reasons to implement PM checklists is the fact that they reduce the impact of human error. No one is immune to the occasional mistake or memory lapse. In fact, studies show that even competent and properly trained technicians will make a mistake once every 500 times they perform a task—and once every 25 times when factors like fatigue are introduced!
By removing the need to memorize every step of every inspection, you’ll have more consistent PMs since important tasks are less likely to be left out.
One of the harsh realities facing manufacturers and other industries today is the growing skills gap. About 10,000 workers reach age 65 every day, meaning they’re retiring from their jobs—and taking their decades of experience with them.
PM checklists can reduce the impact of this level of turnover, allowing inspection and routine work practices to remain consistent, as new workers take the place of retirees.
When used properly, preventive maintenance checklists can make inspections faster than they would if technicians relied on their memories alone. It’s a simple matter to look at the list, check the item, fill in a response, and move on to the next item.
In addition, when items on the checklist are put in the right sequence, they can reduce some of the back-and-forth travel that might occur during routine maintenance tasks.
Much of maintenance today is about troubleshooting. To be as efficient as possible, you’ll need to streamline your troubleshooting processes. A checklist will help you do that.
Items to be checked during an inspection are limited to those placed on the list, which saves time when trying to find the root cause of an equipment failure. In addition, it will keep the process consistent, thereby limiting the number of reasons why something might go wrong with a given piece of equipment.
With well-designed PM checklists, each recurring task has a set procedure and amount of time to complete, making the maintenance planning process much simpler. In addition, standardizing these tasks with checklists makes it easy to determine which tools and materials are needed for each task.
Ultimately, maintenance planners are able to focus more on optimizing workflows and improving reliability as they spend less time planning individual tasks.
All of these benefits come down to improved equipment reliability. Maintenance technicians are less likely to miss items during inspections, each task is fully planned out with the proper supplies on hand, and the equipment has fewer faults and delays.
To provide the benefits listed above, preventive maintenance checklists need to be thorough. The components of your checklists should include the following.
Naturally, the first on the list should be the item or system being checked. Having each list clearly labeled for specific assets will help keep processes organized.
Each checklist should have a list of required tools and equipment, including PPE (personal protective equipment), lubricant, and replacement parts. Having these items clearly detailed on the list will make sure your technicians have everything they need while out on the floor, preventing any back-and-forth trips to get extra parts or tools.
Next is the list of tasks to be completed. These should be as detailed as they need to be, but still concise.
On some checklists, the items listed may be step-by-step tasks performed by a maintenance technician. An example might be a routine checkup on a mixer that requires the technician to first lock down the equipment, then check for/clean out any buildup, and so on.
Other checklists may be formatted as a “pass/fail” list, where the technician or operator checks various items to see if they meet the requirements outlined under each item. Any items marked as “fail” would trigger a work order.
UpKeep lets you easily make digital checklists for your technicians on-the-go to complete, as they perform routine safety checks and inspections on important equipment.
Each item on your checklist should have space for responses. Some of the common types of responses on maintenance checklists include:
The types of responses you choose will depend on the asset being serviced and the purpose of the checklist. For instance, an inspection checklist would use a pass/fail format, whereas a routine lubrication task might use open/in progress/complete.
It’s best practice to include the time the checklist should take to complete. Doing so helps keep maintenance technicians on task, while at the same time, pushes them to complete each item properly (as opposed to just pencil whipping the whole procedure).
Including the anticipated hours required for each checklist will also help your maintenance planner and supervisors when it comes to planning and assigning tasks for each workday.
The frequency for each task should be specified. In some cases, you may have separate lists or sections for weekly, monthly, and yearly tasks. Otherwise, the items on the list should list their own specific time interval in order to make sure they’re done as often as needed.
Maintenance checklists may include other details on top of those described above, including:
Of course, you can’t pull everything you need to include on your checklist out of thin air. A process involving data and best practices will help you create the ultimate preventive maintenance checklist. To start out, try following the steps listed below.
First of all, you’ll want to figure out exactly what you want to accomplish. Taking a look at your current maintenance data can be a good starting point here. Some potential goals might include:
Your goals may include a number of these items, since some will support each other. For instance, reducing equipment faults can increase uptime, improve safety, and minimize rejects. Some items may be a higher priority than others, which is where using existing data can help.
Once you know what you need to accomplish, you’ll need to fully document your equipment and the state of your operations as they currently stand. As equipment breaks down and parts are replaced, many maintenance teams lose track of exactly what’s in their facilities, so taking a complete audit of each item will help get the process started.
In addition to taking stock of each item, its model, and its serial number, you’ll need to outline the replacement parts it uses, its expected/past downtime, average response times for repairs, and the costs associated with maintaining it.
Most facilities need to meet strict health and safety requirements, and in some cases, that will mean keeping certain pieces of equipment in good repair. Federal and state regulations may have rules in place that require certain maintenance tasks and procedures. You’ll need to take those into account, as you create your preventive maintenance checklist.
Some checklists cover multiple assets, while others may be designed for specific machines. Either way, you’ll want to choose high-priority assets and systems where a checklist would make the greatest impact. Those might include:
Often, it’s best to start out by focusing on one or two assets first before expanding to others in your facility. That way, you can “test drive” your checklist to see what kind of impact it has before rolling it out to other assets.
Once you have your list of assets, outline the kinds of preventive maintenance tasks you’ll need to complete for each one. Some common tasks include:
Along with these tasks, you’ll need to note the frequency, priority, and needed equipment for each one. Using existing checklists as a reference could help with that process.
When determining the priority for each task, it may help to do some failure mode and effects analysis (FMEA). Doing so will help you pin down exactly what could go wrong, how it could impact your facility, and what you might do to prevent it.
Once you have your tasks you want to complete for each asset, it will be time to put your list together. Each item on your checklist should be detailed enough to let technicians know exactly what they’re supposed to do, and they should be arranged in a sensible sequential order.
Along with the list items, include spaces for responses, whether you’re using a pass/fail system or a more open-ended format. Also, be sure to include the other parts of a PM checklist discussed above.
Create a separate list for each asset or system you want to inspect. In some cases, your list might cover an entire building or process, while others might be machine-specific.
Once you have your checklists created, you’ll need to make sure your maintenance team uses them properly. Often, there’s a bit of resistance to the adoption of checklists, but if you take the time to discuss why they’re important and to demonstrate best practices, it can facilitate their use.
Often, implementing checklists will mean creating a “checklist culture” within your facility. It may take some time, but the end results are worth the effort.
As with any new maintenance process, you’ll want to track the results of your checklists as they’re put into use. Over time, you may find that you need to add or subtract items from the list, adjust the time required to complete, or retrain your technicians if you see signs of pencil whipping.
It may help to consider the initial rollout as a test run. As you collect data from one or two assets, you’ll be able to make adjustments to create a long-lasting procedure. The idea is to be flexible and focus on continuous improvement.
Along with the steps outlined above, some additional tips and best practices for creating the ultimate PM checklist include the following.
When planning the assets to maintain and creating PMs for each one, it helps to have the right types of expertise on board. Your maintenance manager and supervisors can provide valuable insight into which tasks are necessary for each asset, as can some of your senior technicians.
In addition, you’ll want to include your maintenance planner in the discussion since their whole purpose is to plan maintenance tasks—which is exactly what creating a PM checklist is all about.
With each item on your list, you want to be as specific as you can, without creating a massive block of text for your technicians to read through. Being clear and detailed will make sure your techs perform each task correctly every time, but only if they don’t feel like reading each step would be a waste of time.
You don’t always have to rely on text alone to describe the PM tasks on the list. Photographs or diagrams of the equipment and its components can help you make your checklists as clear and easy to use as possible.
When creating your PM tasks for your list, make sure you’re aware of any safety measures that need to take place. For instance, you’ll need to include lockout/tagout procedures whenever technicians need to access moving equipment. In addition, include any safety warnings and PPE needed for each checklist.
One final way to make your preventive maintenance checklist effective is to make it mobile. A mobile CMMS (such as UpKeep) can help you digitize existing checklists and create entirely new ones. Those lists can then be accessed, filled out, and logged via a mobile device, making them highly convenient for technicians out on the floor.
By following these steps and best practices, you’ll be able to create the ultimate preventive maintenance checklist for your facility. When done properly, your PM checklist will help improve safety, efficiency, and reliability in your facility.
Machine Downtime by the Numbers: What Maintenance Teams Need to Know
Sigan Industries: Making a Difference by Producing Hand Sanitizer on the Frontlines
Helpful Resource Release – Podcasts