Planned Maintenance

What is planned maintenance?

Planned maintenance is the process of determining what work needs to be completed and how it is to be done. It details materials, tools, tasks, and services required to successfully resolve a problem.

Planned maintenance workflow


Planned maintenance begins with outlining the scope of the work to be completed. This is often done in response to a work order, though it may also be based on a repeating schedule. In either instance, exact information is necessary. The operator or supervisor who detects the issue needs to get the right information to the maintenance planner. This information includes details about the problem, the asset in question, and any additional problems that may be related to it.

After collecting all necessary information and pinpointing the exact problem, the maintenance planner outlines the details of the work to be performed. This includes the scope of the work, what tools will be required, and whether replacement parts or specific materials are needed. In addition, it’s vital to inspect the worksite—temporary equipment, materials, and scaffolding may be in the way, which could affect how work is conducted.

It is also important to detail the procedures needed to complete the work successfully. Items such as shutdown procedures, access requirements, and safety precautions are all vital to the completion of a maintenance task, and it’s important to outline those considerations during the planning phase.

Once the work is outlined, it needs to be prioritized, and any necessary materials should be ordered. The maintenance planner should handle those tasks to make sure the work is ready to go once it’s scheduled.

When the planning process is complete, the scheduling phase begins. The maintenance planner may handle scheduling, or a separate scheduler may take over. Scheduling maintenance is a separate process from maintenance planning, but the two rely heavily on one another to make sure preventive maintenance is completed successfully.

How planned maintenance decreases downtime

Left unattended, any asset will eventually fail. Faults, failures, and breakdowns interrupt entire production processes, and that could result in hours, if not days, of unplanned downtime. That downtime is expensive, especially considering how labor and operations costs continue to mount while productivity is at a standstill.

Planned maintenance allows minor issues to be resolved before they develop into major breakdowns. The process of gathering data and prioritizing maintenance tasks makes sure the most pressing issues are handled first, thereby preventing key assets from deteriorating further. The planning process also ensures all requisite materials and tools are available. As a result, planned downtime is kept to a minimum as work is carried out on time.

In addition, careful maintenance planning helps restrict downtime to the best possible timing for each asset. This minimizes process interruptions and streamlines the costs of maintenance as a whole.

Example of planned maintenance

One environment where planned maintenance may be used is in a food processing plant. Suppose a routine inspection finds that one of the boilers used in their cooking processes has extensive scale buildup. A work order is placed and submitted to the maintenance supervisor, who then takes it to the maintenance planner.

After careful inspection of the feedwater softener system and condensate tank, the maintenance planner finds an issue with the softener system. He prescribes the repairs needed and orders replacement parts. Since it’s not an emergency at the moment, the maintenance request is placed at lower priority than some of the more pressing issues in the plant. It will be up to the scheduler to determine when the work is due.

In this example, planned maintenance helped clarify a problem in the plant (scale buildup in the boiler due to poor water treatment) and outlined a plan to resolve the issue. By taking care of this planning in advance, the work can be completed without any delays once it’s scheduled.

Benefits of planned maintenance

Planned maintenance offers various benefits to companies on top of reducing unplanned downtime. These benefit include:

  • Reduced maintenance costs as maintenance requests are handled efficiently
  • Extended asset life as the effects of regular wear are minimized
  • Increased workplace safety as assets are kept in reliable working order
  • Compliance with safety standards such as OSHA
  • Improved workplace culture fostered by collaboration among maintenance workers

The end results of these benefits are streamlined overhead costs and improved margins. As such, investment in a sound planned maintenance strategy is highly advantageous for companies.