A large part of keeping a company running efficiently and profitably is ensuring that all equipment is functioning optimally. Routine preventive maintenance needs to be conducted. Unfortunately, regular equipment checks often go overlooked in certain areas of a company’s operations mainly because attention is usually directed toward more pressing issues. However, when small tasks go overlooked for long periods of time, problems often follow in the form of production errors, work injuries, and asset damage can all occur if careful tracking and maintenance aren’t followed. A breakdown in critical equipment is costly both regarding repairs as well as downtime and delays in a company’s productivity.

What is preventive maintenance?

Preventive maintenance (or preventative maintenance) is maintenance that is regularly performed on a piece of equipment to lessen the likelihood of it failing. It is performed while the equipment is still working so that it does not break down unexpectedly. In terms of the complexity of this maintenance strategy, it falls between reactive (or run-to-failure) maintenance and predictive maintenance.

Preparing work instructions for preventive maintenance

Detailed maintenance work instructions are meant to drive out the natural “human variation” in the way people do things. They provide a basis for training and qualifying a person to perform the required tasks on specific equipment. The use of the work instructions must be enforced—they’re not optional. Instructions that are developed can be a starting point for continuous improvement of equipment performance and reliability, improved workplace safety and environmental conditions, and for improving the overall productivity of the company’s physical assets and its human resources.

Tools for preventive maintenance

Initially, your efforts should focus more on improving equipment performance and reliability than overhauling your preventative maintenance work instruction documents. Be careful not to get mired down in a massive rewrite or upgrade of all of your facility’s preventative maintenance work instructions—the financial justification might not be there. Concentrate on the delivery of measurable business results every step of the way.

There are several options for using detailed preventative maintenance work instructions. They could be attached to preventative maintenance work orders when they’re distributed, made available in hard copy at the equipment or point of use, or posted on a network computer terminal that’s accessible to the person performing the tasks. The work instructions can also be summarized in checklist format for ease of use on the job if the tasks to be performed are not particularly complex or critical.

Begin improving your maintenance work instructions by targeting your most penalizing equipment items or processes. Look beyond the maintenance needs of the equipment and consider the plant or facility operations. Select your starting points with equipment that’s a candidate for improved performance.