Preventative Maintenance (PM) aims to identify and address issues before they become serious problems. So why is effective preventative maintenance not a first step in every asset management program? Asset managers sometimes get stuck in asset management planning at the expense of creating true value. In many cases, asset managers do not understand preventative maintenance. This article explains basic PM activities and provides a place to start. Improving the PM program is a high-value activity in almost every asset management program.
Preventive Maintenance (PM) Defined
Preventive maintenance refers to the routine maintenance tasks performed on equipment or machinery at scheduled intervals to prevent potential breakdowns and ensure they continue functioning efficiently. This can include tasks like cleaning, lubricating, inspecting, and replacing components as necessary.
PM leveling typically refers to balancing the workload for maintenance teams. The goal is to prevent overloading maintenance teams and ensure that equipment is adequately cared for. Additional benefits are identifying shortages in the number of staff and the skills of the existing staff.
PM optimization involves fine-tuning the PM program to maximize its effectiveness. The goal is to align the PM program with its operating context rather than simply following Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) recommendations or legacy staff preferences. PM optimization focuses on the frequency of maintenance tasks for critical assets based on data analytics. PM optimization aims to reduce costs while maintaining or improving equipment reliability.
Many organizations never get to PM optimization. Developing the PM program and regularly performing PM leveling consumes the available resources. However, standardizing maintenance schedules and PM leveling are the first steps toward achieving an optimized preventive maintenance program. Optimization requires performing a criticality assessment, analyzing historical maintenance data, using predictive maintenance techniques, and sometimes adopting new technologies to enhance efficiency.
Case Example of PM Leveling
As part of a new enterprise asset management system (EAMS) software deployment, the City of Cocoa, Florida, developed a new PM program for its water plant. The primary goals were to validate the current PM program and reduce the regular PM backlogs in recent years.
The first step was performing a criticality analysis on all water plant assets. Next, a PM scope and frequency were established based on current practices that were fine-tuned with outside experience. PM templates were established, which aligned quarterly PM task frequency with asset criticality.
The effort resulted in the first true PM program for the organization. PM leveling occurred without much debate once uniform PM tasks and asset criticalities were established. Based on 1700 hours per year per full-time equivalent, it was determined that 2.5 additional positions (one mechanical and 1.5 instrumentation technician) were needed.
Three years after the successful implementation, the organization had not developed the data, data analytics, and predictive maintenance techniques needed for PM optimization. However, data is being collected, PM evaluation is regularly occurring, and reliability is consistently high.
Improving the PM program is a high-value activity in almost every asset management program. Start with a critical analysis. Then, turn to unifying the maintenance tasks for each asset class and type. Finally, establish the frequency of each task based on the asset's criticality. Starting with a small plant or system and leaning on the criticality analysis will make the process less tedious. The benefits will be contagious.
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