Preventive maintenance gives you a chance to review, adjust, and repair the equipment responsible for keeping your business running. Depending on the nature of your business, you might use preventive maintenance to inspect your production equipment and replace worn belts, adjust and improve the mechanical components of your vehicle fleet, or even keep your backup generator in good operating condition.
So why is preventive maintenance so important? And how can you get it right?
Why Is Preventive Maintenance Important?
Let’s start with some of the most important motivations for practicing consistent preventive maintenance.
· Human safety. First and foremost, preventive maintenance can improve the safety of the people responsible for using this equipment on a regular basis. If your production machines have loose components, it could pose a safety risk for the people using them. If the disc brakes on your company vehicles are worn, it could lead to a major accident.
· Cost savings. In addition to improving safety, preventive maintenance saves you money. It’s almost always cheaper to fix a small issue when it’s caught early than it is to make a major repair after something has gone wrong. The more complex the machine is, and the more moving parts it has, the truer this is.
· Higher uptime. Keeping to a regular preventive maintenance schedule leads to higher uptime. You’ll have to take a system down to conduct some maintenance on it, but you won’t have to shut things down for days or hours to make a major repair.
· Higher efficiency. If you practice routine maintenance correctly, you can often create a system with higher efficiency. With new belts, proper lubrication, and new parts where they count most, your machines can operate more smoothly and ultimately lead to higher productivity and less energy usage.
How to Do Preventive Maintenance Right
These are just some of the ways you can do preventive maintenance right:
· Hire true pros. If you can, hire true pros to conduct your equipment maintenance. It’s possible to train your existing staff members to handle routine maintenance, but it’s even better if you work with people who do this for a living. People devoted to maintenance will be far more consistent in their work, and they’ll have more experience they can use to resolve problems if and when they arise.
· Do it frequently (and stick to a schedule). Preventive maintenance isn’t something to conduct when you happen to think about it. It’s something that needs to be done frequently and on a consistent schedule. Depending on your equipment, “frequently” could mean once a year or twice a week – it varies depending on how much you’re using it, how important it is, and how susceptible to wear it is. In any case, devise a schedule for maintenance and don’t deviate from it.
· Keep it automatic (when possible). The more opportunity for human error there is, the more likely you’ll have to deal with human errors. That’s why it’s important to keep your maintenance systems as automatic as possible. Set up automatic notifications so you can know when to start maintenance, replace a specific part, or take corrective action. Monitoring systems can also help you tackle issues the moment they become detectable.
· Designate a point person. Even with automatic systems in place, it’s a good idea to designate a point person on your team who’s directly responsible for ensuring that your preventive maintenance routine is handled. Trust them to verify that all your procedures are being followed properly.
· Document everything. Documentation is king in the realm of preventive maintenance. It will help you ensure that your processes are followed consistently and repeatedly. It will provide a record of service if you ever need to reference it in the future. And it can help you follow a path to the origin of a problem, should one arise, in a root cause analysis.
· Take action early whenever possible. The whole point of preventive maintenance is to prevent major problems from occurring – so part of your responsibility is to take action early whenever possible. If you notice something wrong or “off,” correct it immediately when you can.
· Be ready to make adjustments. No preventive maintenance schedule or plan is perfect. If you want to get the best possible results, you’ll need to be prepared to make adjustments. Get feedback from experts and from your staff to figure out ways you can improve.
Every business is going to need a slightly different approach to preventive maintenance, since every business will be working with different equipment, a different team, and a different set of goals. However, these high-level directives should help you create a schedule and a system that keeps your business operational, efficient, and best of all, safe.