How to Improve Your PM Program in 10 Steps

If you currently have a preventive maintenance (PM) program in place and want to improve it, there are 10 steps you can follow to do so. Following these steps will uncover inefficiencies, including over- and under-scheduled PMs, equipment with PMs that don’t need them, and noncritical equipment that is prioritized over critical equipment for preventive maintenance.

While an optimized PM program should not replace a formal reliability-centered maintenance (RCM) program, it’s a respectable solution for improving reliability in the short term. At some later time, you can perform an RCM analysis to corroborate the applicability of the scheduled PM tasks.

Here are the 10 steps, along with an explanation on how to perform each of them to improve your PM program.

To add accountability to improve the existing PM program, it helps to select three or four teammates to head the project. These teammates should be from maintenance and operations so that the improvements that are made benefit the overall business, rather than just the key performance indicators (KPIs) of one department.

To determine which equipment to optimize the PM program for first, categorize equipment by critical, very important, and important. Again, having people from maintenance and operations involved will produce a more objective understanding of which equipment should be prioritized.

To get your feet wet in optimizing PM programs, select one critical asset to start. The whole optimization team should focus on improving the program for this single asset. Later, the team can be distributed to optimize PM programs for numerous assets simultaneously.

After the critical asset is selected, run a report in your computerized maintenance management system (CMMS), if you have one. This report should show all historical PM activities that have been conducted on the asset.

To effectively edit existing PMs and implement new ones, you need to understand how the asset fails. For starters, it helps to group the asset into one of two failure categories: age-related or non-age-related.

Using the report generated in Step 3, audit the various PM tasks associated with the asset. Also assign a label to the different tasks. Here are some different labels you can use:

  • Inspection of equipment for on-condition task;
  • Inspection for a hidden failure;
  • Restoration/overhaul task;
  • Discard task for equipment with a safe life or economic life limit.

After this, determine whether the task type lines up with the assigned failure mode. For instance, if the asset has a non-age-related failure mode, a restoration task should not exist.

If technicians judiciously use the CMMS to perform maintenance, the optimization team needs to verify that every PM is accurately detailed in the system. After all, this is the system that has the checklists and guidelines that technicians reference when they are performing maintenance.

Also, if you assign estimated times for task completion in the CMMS, make sure enough time is allotted for technicians to perform quality work. This helps planners and schedulers with their job, too.

Are PMs overscheduled or under-scheduled? Or are no PMs being performed at all and the asset is breaking down at unscheduled times? The team’s combined knowledge of the asset and the maintenance record can help you answer these questions.

For the other assets you perform maintenance on, go through steps four through seven. Identify the failure mode, determine the types of PMs being performed, review the tasks in the CMMS, and review the frequency of those tasks while making necessary updates.

To ensure greater accountability and the timely performance of the PM optimization exercise, goals should be set. For instance, keep the team accountable to reviewing a certain number of assets and PMs per week. At the end of the week, generate a report for the team to review.

For the PMs you review and optimize, you need to make sure they actually get done. For calendar-based PMs, in particular, work with your maintenance planner/scheduler to optimize the calendar for this. Also, take a look at your current schedule compliance. Another goal should be to improve this percentage. You can attach compliance to the goal percentage

Download 10 Steps for Improving a PM Program Infographic

Editor’s Note: A version of this article was first published by UpKeep, a mobile-first CMMS solution, and written by Jim Borowski, a maintenance professional and UpKeep advocate. 

Ryan Chan, is CEO and Founder at UpKeep Maintenance Management. Ryan started UpKeep out of passion and frustration by the lack of mobility in today’s maintenance management software. He was named one of Forbes 30 Under 30 for Manufacturing in 2018.