Preventive Maintenance

Preventive maintenance is a schedule of planned maintenance actions aimed at the prevention of breakdowns and failures. The primary goal of preventive maintenance is to prevent the failure of equipment before it actually occurs. It is designed to preserve and enhance equipment reliability by replacing worn components before they actually fail. Preventive maintenance activities include equipment checks, partial or complete overhauls at specified periods, consumable changes, lubrication and so on. In addition, workers can record equipment deterioration so they know to replace or repair worn parts before they cause system failure. Recent technological advances in tools for inspection and diagnosis have enabled even more accurate and effective equipment maintenance. The ideal preventive maintenance program would prevent all equipment failure before it occurs giving your equipment a longer working life.

Value of Preventive Maintenance

There are multiple misconceptions about preventive maintenance. One such misconception is that PM is unduly costly. This logic dictates that it would cost more for regularly scheduled downtime and maintenance than it would normally cost to operate equipment until repair is absolutely necessary. This may be true for some components; however, one should compare not only the costs but the long-term benefits and savings associated with preventive maintenance. Without preventive maintenance, for example, costs for lost production time from unscheduled equipment breakdown will be incurred. Also, preventive maintenance will result in savings due to an increase of effective system service life.

Long-term benefits of preventive maintenance include:

  • Improved system reliability.

  • Decreased cost of replacement.

  • Decreased system downtime.

  • Better spares inventory management.

Long-term effects and cost comparisons usually favor preventive maintenance over performing maintenance actions only when the system fails.

When Does Preventive Maintenance Make Sense

Preventive maintenance is a logical choice if, and only if, the following two conditions are met:

  • Condition #1: The component in question has an increasing failure rate. In other words, the failure rate of the component increases with time, thus implying wear-out. Preventive maintenance of a component that is assumed to have an exponential distribution (which implies a constant failure rate) does not make sense!

  • Condition #2: The overall cost of the preventive maintenance action must be less than the overall cost of a corrective action. (Note: In the overall cost for a corrective action, one should include ancillary tangible and/or intangible costs, such as downtime costs, loss of production costs, lawsuits over the failure of a safety-critical item, loss of goodwill, etc.)

If both of these conditions are met, then preventive maintenance makes sense. Additionally, based on the costs ratios, an optimum time for such action can be easily computed for a single component. This is detailed in later sections.

We appreciate that it is not always easy to work out how frequent your equipment is to be maintained. If you would like us to recommend the best service for your individual needs please email or call us for advice.