Repair or replace? Building managers grapple with these decisions every month. Too often, they rely on gut instinct, rather than facts about that asset’s performance, to decide what to do. To effectively manage thousands of assets, operating teams need a facility management solution paired with a well thought out preventive maintenance plan to track the useful life, identify issues and fix them proactively before they cause any major challenges.
Every preventive maintenance plan is different, depending on the size of your facility, whether or not you outsource your engineering to an FM provider, what your tenants are responsible for vs. the base building…the list goes on from there. However, there are some fundamental attributes that every plan has. Before we jump into creating a preventive maintenance plan, let’s take a step back to really understand what preventive maintenance is and why it is that foundation of an effective facility management strategy.
What is a preventive maintenance?
Preventive maintenance is regularly scheduled and performed tests, repairs, replacements, inspections and other tasks on equipment to minimize the possibility of them unexpectedly failing. The goal of a PM program is to expand the useful life of equipment within buildings. These programs help facility teams manage their equipment better which helps them keep costs down and monitor how they operate to reduce risk.
Preventive maintenance plans are put in place by facility management teams to monitor and keep track of the performance within their building, capturing valuable data to track performance trends.
How to create a preventive maintenance plan.
Step 1: Identify your goals
A few questions to consider: Why do we need a PM plan? Do we currently have a plan? Do we need to modify our existing plan or start from scratch? Once you zero in on what you actually need then you can focus on the goals you hope to achieve with a PM program.
Next, you need to define your goals for the program. Goals could vary by each organization depending on how you are currently handling preventive maintenance but here are a few common examples that we have seen:
- Cut back on equipment repair costs by X% or $X.
- Expand the use life on equipment by X% or X years.
- Eliminate downtown for unexpected repairs or failures by X%.
Once you have identified your goals, document them and share them across your team. It is much easier to get your team on board and engaged when they know they value up front of the work they will be doing.
Step 2: Create a high-level plan
Start at a high level and figure out what resources you will need for your plan. Will your whole department be involved? Will it just be a select few? Do you need to engage a vendor? Are there any additional resources we need? This will help you understand who you will need to involve for a successful PM plan.
You will also need to identify which pieces of equipment are most important to building operations and which have very high repair and replace costs. Equipment that has high replace and repair costs need to be at the top of your PM checklist. It’s also important to review any past data on corrective maintenance and see how much time and what the cost was that was associated with specific pieces of equipment.
Lastly, at a high level, you will have to think about how often these maintenance tasks should be completed. Yes, there are “prescribed” tasks according to the manufacturer, but you know your building and your equipment best. Are those recommendations, right? Should they be more frequent or less frequent? Are there other things your team should be doing? Additionally, you should be thinking about how you are going to organize all of these tasks and where you are going to track the data to measure the success of your new PM plan. You cannot document your PM activity on paper, email or in Excel. You need to have a solution that is specifically made, and organized, to track preventive maintenance.
Step 3: Record and account for all equipment in your FM system
Next, you will need to add all equipment, classified by type and category, into your CMMS or facility management solution. If this data isn’t accurate, your PM program will fail from the very beginning. You should include all information related to your equipment such as serial number, make and model, warranties, purchase date and price, estimated replacement year, its location, asset identification number, etc.
Step 4: Create schedules for your preventive maintenance plan
Now you need to focus on the details of your plan. Every piece of equipment had a manual that tells you when you should be doing maintenance. You can also look back at any data you collected about your equipment to see how often you were fixing it. Start by scheduling your high priority or high-value pieces of equipment first. It’s easiest to focus on one equipment type or category at a time.
Once you know which category/type to start with, determine the frequency of each PM activity – what needs to be done annually, quarterly, etc.
Sometimes as machines get older you might have to perform preventive maintenance more regularly. Adjust your schedules based on the trends you see in the performance data.
Step 5: Create a checklist
To simplify the process, provide a straightforward checklist that shows everything that needs to be checked during a PM. Your checklist should include anything that needs to be checked or tested to ensure your equipment is working properly. You can create a checklist in your facility management solution. Having a mobile app that can show the checklist will make your job even easier. Once your technicians complete everything on the checklist they can quickly swipe left or right to determine the equipment checks all the boxes or needs additional maintenance.
Your checklists will be different depending on how many pieces of equipment you have and what they are. Here is a short example of some items that might be on your PM checklist for an HVAC unit:
- Change air filters
- Inspect piping to ensure there are no leaks
- Clean ducts as needed
- Secure any loose guards or panels
- Check the condition of electrical connections
- Check the blower motor for irregular noise or vibration
- Read and record the voltage
This is just a short list to get you started. Some checklists will have more tasks than other depending on the type of equipment you are doing maintenance on.
Step 6: Train your team
Training is one of the most important parts of creating a successful preventive maintenance plan. If your team isn’t properly trained, tasks could get missed during PMs and then you are back to square. The purpose for this plan is to account for everything that could fail on a piece of equipment and if your team isn’t trained well and is missing the mark when it comes to PMs then your equipment is likely to fail.
If your team is trained well and collects the right information for each asset, then your PM program will be successful. It will also enable managers to work more proactively by knowing how their equipment is operating. A critical part of training is teaching your team how to use the mobile application if that’s a change for you. Everyone needs to be comfortable using the actual device and application, and should also understand the entire PM lifecycle you’ve created.
Step 7: Look at your data frequently
Once you have your plan in place, you will be collecting data constantly. Organize this data in a dashboard to give you a holistic view of how asset performance and costs. If your data is organized in an easy to analyze way, then you can spot trends and determine if something is out of order and address it before it creates a bigger problem. You should also use your data to make sure you are hitting the goals you defined in step 1. Without this data, you will not be able to measure your success when it comes to your PM program.
Implementing a preventive maintenance plan is no easy feat. It takes a lot of time and resources to figure out your plan, collect all of the information and put your plan in motion but in the long run, a PM plan will help you better manage your equipment and reduce costs along the way.