Building Operations & Maintenance

What is Preventive Maintenance? A Comprehensive Guide

Preventive maintenance (or preventative maintenance) is the regular, planned and routine maintenance performed to maximize the longevity of assets, equipment, and facilities.

A recent report by Senseye found that large facilities lose an average of 27 hours a month to machine failures and $532,000 for each hour of unplanned downtime.

Preventive maintenance (PM) is a simple solution that could improve asset reliability and life, ensure safety and compliance, enhance customer satisfaction, and save you costs on the whole deal. Its potential is undeniable, and is a common practice now.

But writing a PM schedule isn’t where the buck stops, is it? Reactive costs are still rising, service quality dwindles while you’re crushed between SLAs and vendor management plus the two other things that broke while you were reading this.

At the heart of the problem sit legacy computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS), who’s limitations create silos of many flavors for FMs - functional, operational, and of data.

A connected CMMS overcomes these limitations and helps you automate tasks, collaborate with team members, customize workflows, and integrate with existing tech stack, all within a single platform.

This article discusses preventive maintenance and its types, the benefits of a preventive maintenance program, and the steps to create an effective PM plan. We have also reviewed the best CMMS software to help you get started on your mission to find the right one for your organization.

What is preventive maintenance?

Preventive maintenance (or preventative maintenance) is the regular, planned, and routine maintenance performed to maximize the longevity of assets, equipment, and buildings.

It helps reduce instances of unexpected equipment failures and costly unplanned downtimes, and instances of expensive reactive, and breakdown maintenance.
Businesses use CMMS to plan PM strategies and schedule PM tasks. CMMS records information about asset lifecycle history, maintenance records and reports, performance, and faults and failure incidents for every piece of equipment being monitored.

Using this data, you can determine which assets will benefit from PM. For maximum return on investment (ROI) from your PM program, consider assets that have a significant impact on operations, are prone to failures, or are expensive to replace.

Top 10 Best Preventive Maintenance Software in 2023 [UPDATED]
Preventive maintenance software is an application of a Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) that helps simplify and automate planned preventive maintenance processes. Explore the top 10 best PM software in the market today. UPDATED for 2024

What are the different types of preventive maintenance?

The concept of planned maintenance lies at the heart of preventive maintenance strategies.

The goal of planned maintenance is to reduce downtime and costs, as well as to increase asset and equipment lifespans.

Under planned maintenance, you can schedule preventive or unscheduled maintenance depending on the needs of the asset, and its impact on operations.

  • Planned unscheduled maintenance is usually applied to inexpensive and easy-to-replace equipment that does not have a major impact on operations in case of failure.
  • Preventive maintenance is typically performed on critical equipment that has a high impact and associated downtime costs.

To safeguard and future-proof critical equipment, businesses use these four major types of preventive maintenance methods:

  1. Time-based maintenance
  2. Usage-based maintenance
  3. Predictive maintenance
  4. Prescriptive maintenance

1. Time-based maintenance

Time-based maintenance occurs at scheduled calendar intervals to comply with manufacturer recommendations. This system creates necessary work orders as the due date approaches, after which the maintenance action is triggered.

Consider adding major utilities, equipment, tools, and technology your business depends on for its success to create a time-based maintenance plan for your business.

2. Usage-based maintenance

Usage-based maintenance considers both, the time elapsed since the last maintenance and the average number of operational hours to schedule PM tasks.

With time-based maintenance, you know that your equipment is due for an oil change, say after every 200 operational hours. It is difficult to line up resources for the change if you don't know when the equipment is going to complete 200 operational hours.

Say the equipment is used for an average of 10 hours daily. So,

  1. the ideal time between oil changes (200 hours)
  2. time elapsed since the last change (100 hours)
  3. and the average usage of equipment (10 hours)

So, the next change is due in 10 days.

The biggest benefit usage-based maintenance offers over just time-based schedules is the ability to calculate the date of the next maintenance and line up resources accordingly.

3. Predictive maintenance

Predictive maintenance gathers information from various IoT sensors for vibration, gas, humidity, temperature, security, and pressure data.

These sensors are typically found on sensitive equipment, which sends data to predictive maintenance software that can trigger maintenance work orders in case the equipment needs inspections, repairs, or upgrades.

Facilio's fault detection feature depicting the message, assets, reporting time, and category
Facilio's fault detection feature page

Predictive maintenance helps monitor the health of essential machinery, track their performance, and detect defects in advance to prevent unexpected equipment failures.

4. Prescriptive maintenance

The objectives of prescriptive maintenance are the same as predictive maintenance. Only, this cutting-edge technology uses advanced analytics and machine learning to not just predict but to hypothesize potential outcomes that could lead to equipment failures.

It analyzes equipment performance and assesses operational breakdowns and risks to forecast the potential timing of an asset failure and possible operational conditions up to the time of failure. Therefore, the more Artificial Intelligence becomes familiar with your machines, the less you spend on expensive reactive maintenance.

Software for prescriptive maintenance helps analyze asset performance, make recommendations and project outcomes, and trigger and monitor maintenance work orders all by itself.

These concepts are tweaked, organized, and scheduled differently to suit the unique maintenance needs of businesses. The effective implementation of preventive maintenance can offer certain common benefits, regardless of the concept you adopt.

Benefits of preventive maintenance

PM strategies enable you to directly improve your bottom line by avoiding unexpected and expensive downtimes. Besides, preventive maintenance systems also help:

  • Boost asset performance with regular repairs before failure
  • Reduce equipment downtime
  • Increase asset lifecycle
  • Improve compliance with OSHA and workplace safety
  • Prevent excessive or abnormal energy consumption
  • Maximize cost savings on maintenance work
  • Efficient resource allocation and utilization
  • Better inventory tracking and planning

When to use preventive maintenance?

The right time to use preventive maintenance varies according to the equipment type, its current condition, and criticality. Follow the manufacturer guidelines for each asset to accurately schedule maintenance tasks before the due date and prevent assets from running to failure.

For instance, preventive maintenance on water systems prevents bacterial proliferation and corrosion initiation and ensures compliance with ACoP and HSG regulations. You can gather tools and analyze the current condition, such as malfunctions and visible signs of leaks, unusual noises, corrosion, and deterioration.

Refer to the manufacturer’s guide and replace sediment and carbon filters to ensure optimal filtration performance for impurities. You may also need to assign technicians to lubricate valves, pumps, and motors and clean membranes to restore their effective functioning.

Follow the guidelines and regularly schedule maintenance tasks on water systems to prevent costly replacement and ensure asset longevity.

Suggested reads:

How to measure asset reliability with a bathtub curve?

A Quick Guide to Avoid Getting Pencil Whipped!

Steps to create a successful preventive maintenance plan

The secret to an effective preventive maintenance plan is to get the frequency of maintenance scheduling right. When overdone, preventive maintenance can result in increased costs, wasted time, and work hours, and may lead to post-maintenance breakdowns.
More isn't always better.
Setting up customized preventive maintenance schedules for equipment vital to your operations is the best way to get started with proactive maintenance.
Here's how you can create an effective preventive maintenance schedule:

Step 1: Establish clear goals and KPIs

Setting clear goals and key performance indicators (KPIs) will help create an effective preventive maintenance program. To establish the goals, consider answering the following questions:

  • Do you want to decrease maintenance costs?
  • Are you looking to extend the equipment's lifespan?
  • Is complying with regulations and increasing safety your end goal?
  • Do you want to reduce equipment failures and minimize downtime?

After establishing goals, create KPIs to measure them consistently and understand the success of your maintenance program. The right CMMS platform can easily help you track the essential KPIs.

Some important metrics that you need to measure are:

  • Planned maintenance percentage
  • Preventive maintenance compliance
  • Overall equipment effectiveness (OEE)
  • Mean time between failures (MTBF)
  • Mean time to repair (MTTR)
  • Scheduled maintenance critical per cent
  • Equipment availability

Measure these KPIs throughout the preventive maintenance program to ensure you achieve your goals and redefine strategies whenever needed.

Step 2: Implement the right technology

The next step is choosing and implementing the right technology to help you achieve your preventive maintenance goals. Legacy CMMS solutions have several limitations, which can pose various challenges in your PM program.

For instance, The State of Facilities Management 2023 report surveying facility managers and heads of facilities reveals the following insights:

  • 55.2% of respondents report deep visibility into asset service histories, equipment age, and book values as their top expected outcome of a maintenance software solution
  • 65.8% of respondents expect the software to manage the growing work orders effectively

Implementing a cloud-based CMMS platform achieves these outcomes by automating routine tasks such as work order creation and reporting, reviewing preventive maintenance program performance, providing real-time insights and visibility, and offering seamless integrations with existing systems.

Put simply, a cloud-based CMMS platform effortlessly connects people, processes, and systems, making it a reliable solution over a legacy CMMS for preventive maintenance programs.

Step 3: Inventory your assets and prioritize critical ones

Your operators don't have to perform preventive maintenance on every asset. Audit your enterprise’s assets to prioritize critical ones and save time and costs on less-critical assets.

Some of the factors that you must consider while choosing assets for your preventive maintenance plan are:

  • Criticality: How critical is the asset in providing uninterrupted service to tenants and occupants? Does an asset's downtime bring losses and dissatisfaction? Prioritize critical assets that are indispensable for tenants’ day-to-day activities
  • Failure history: Give preference to assets with failure history, as regular maintenance can extend the lifespan and prevent downtime
  • Replacement costs: How costly can it turn out for your enterprise to replace a particular asset in cases of failure? Include expensive assets in your PM plan list to save costs on replacement
  • Accessibility: Sometimes, it can be easy to miss out on assets that are harder to access. Do not overlook any asset and understand its value to determine the maintenance schedule
  • Safety: Does the asset’s failure cause security issues and potential risks to tenants and occupants? If yes, the list must include it to perform maintenance tasks and ensure safety for tenants and occupants

Step 4: Get historical data for each asset

Gather historical data for each asset to determine the frequency and time of preventive maintenance tasks. This includes asset performance, age, depreciation rate, current condition, usage, and repairs.

Moreover, you can also install sensors, ultrasonic analysis microphones, and monitors on assets and analyze real-time data using your CMMS’s analytical features.

An artificial intelligence (AI) led CMMS platform can uncover patterns and trends in your asset’s condition and predict failures using machine learning (ML) algorithms. Such advanced insights will help you schedule maintenance tasks for assets you might have missed in your PM plan.

Facilio's PM history shows pending and closed work orders with an expected duration
Facilio’s detailed preventive maintenance history

The screenshot above shows a detailed maintenance history and PM tasks for a particular asset—a CMMS gives you this data.

If you do not have historical data, you can still make a PM schedule by projecting asset maintenance needs.

Step 5: Project maintenance needs for chosen assets

When in doubt, it is best to refer to recommendations from the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) manual. The manufacturer's manual contains schedules for necessary maintenance actions, work instructions, and the usage of critical spare parts.

Additionally, talking to operators, technicians, and other maintenance personnel who directly operate the equipment can give you performance insights that can help optimize PM.

Facilio's checklist showing the triggers, prerequisites, history, and summary of PM tasks
Facilio's preventive task management checklist

Once you have this information on hand, you will be able to make checklists of tasks and inspections to perform for each asset, as illustrated in the screenshot.

Step 6: Schedule your PM plan

After considering the historical data and manufacturer recommendations for your chosen assets, you have everything you need to create a preventive maintenance plan.

Create a maintenance schedule (daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, or yearly) for each asset, and you can easily assign, manage, oversee, and modify your PM plan using an intuitive CMMS platform.

It would be best if you had an asset maintenance plan that looks like this -

A detailed PM plan including assets, tasks, maintenance and technician details
Facilio's preventive maintenance plan

With a connected CMMS platform, you can automate the creation of work orders with essential details such as labor resources, due dates, relevant assets, and parts information, and the platform will automatically alert the respective technicians that they should complete maintenance tasks within the given time.

Moreover, it allows you to collaborate with technicians via direct and group messaging and provides stakeholders with complete visibility into the maintenance operations. Advanced reporting and data analytics capabilities will identify opportunities that can save costs and reduce downtime.

Step 7: Train your maintenance team

The success of your PM plan also lies in training the technicians who help you execute the plan.

Educate your technicians on their roles and responsibilities and train them to use the tools and technologies for the best outcomes. You can first implement a PM plan on one facility and, upon analyzing the results, fine-tune the strategies and perform maintenance tasks across multiple locations.

Step 8: Track, measure, and optimize

Use your CMMS dashboards to track KPIs and metrics in real time. This data allows facility managers to quickly adjust the maintenance operations to achieve the desired goals.

Additionally, it is critical to track and monitor the progress and performance of each asset being regularly maintained. This way, you always know if a particular asset needs more or less preventive maintenance to perform optimally.

The greatest pitfall in preventive maintenance is the overscheduling of preventive maintenance tasks.

For instance,

  • If an asset works ideally without any failures, the preventive maintenance schedule works well. Maybe, it is getting more maintenance than it needs. In such a case, you can tweak its maintenance frequency without affecting its operational efficiency
  • If a piece of equipment has seen post-maintenance breakdowns, you can increase the frequency of maintenance for that one. It is also a good idea to understand the root cause of breakdowns in such cases

A preventive maintenance software or CMMS houses detailed logs on each maintained asset. This helps maintenance teams quickly perform root cause analysis, understand the asset's maintenance needs, and empower businesses to make repair or replacement decisions confidently.

CMMS features that make preventive maintenance simple

A CMMS plays a pivotal role in the success of a preventive maintenance plan. The functions and tasks it helps streamline, automate, and simplify are:

  • Set up preventive maintenance schedules for assets based on time or usage
  • Track and manage all maintenance work with a simple maintenance calendar
  • Create preventive maintenance checklists and attach them to relevant work orders
  • Automate work order creation and log all work records in the CMMS
  • Access to maintenance data for any asset from anywhere and any device
  • Enable greater accuracy in managing and spare part inventory with automatic usage tracking
  • Optimize your preventive maintenance program with metrics and KPIs tracking

Let’s look at how Facilio's CMMS software lets you automate the PM schedule for multiple assets across your portfolio in simple steps. Setup PM triggers based on seasons, specified frequency, usage and time and schedule maintenance tasks. The platform auto populates the list of eligible assets and technicians based on the asset category.

Once the preventive maintenance setup is created, Facilio's CMMS platform automatically creates work orders and notifies the respective technicians and supervisors according to the PM schedule. Technicians can then complete the assigned maintenance tasks and report using Facilio's mobile app, and the supervisors will review and close the work orders.

With further technological advancements, you can run planned preventive maintenance activities on autopilot and achieve operational efficiency

Suggested read: How a CMMS Helps Boost Your Property Operations: A Comprehensive Guide

The future of preventive maintenance

IoT and ML technologies have only made their way to real estate property operations in the recent past. And have since shown extraordinary results in continually optimizing assets and preventive maintenance activities.

For instance, consider the case of Al Fajer, a facilities management company widely regarded as an industry leader with over 300 buildings in the UAE.

Al Fajer depended on legacy CMMS and rigid facilities management software to manage all maintenance activities. However, legacy software's limitations in functionality, customer experience, and real-time data analytics resulted in costly reactive maintenance.

After partnering with Facilio, a connected platform for building operations, here's what they were able to achieve:

  • 6864 assets connected from across the portfolio
  • 80+ proactive planned maintenance using a 52-week PPM calendar
  • 13% increase in workforce productivity

Here's what the General Manager at Al Fajer, Ms. Sangeetha had to say about maintenance management with Facilio -

Customer quote for preventive maintenance software - Facilio

The use of remote monitoring and analytical modeling capabilities enables businesses to realize the true potential of their maintenance management programs.

Not only do CMMS like Facilio help track, optimize, and report asset performance, but they also help decrease the net amount of resources allocated to executing maintenance tasks, saving time, costs, and resources for the business.

Discover the power of PPM for your business with Facilio
Book a demo


What is preventive maintenance software?

Preventive maintenance software is a CMMS application that helps businesses collect extensive asset information in real-time, schedule maintenance tasks, create work orders, and easily track performance.

CMMS software captures all information about an asset that PM programs require. This includes its repair calendar, asset priority, repair history, breakdowns and downtime, and equipment manufacturer standards. Using this data, maintenance technicians can quickly diagnose the performance of each asset before repair or replacement decisions are made.

2. What are the objectives of a preventive maintenance plan?

The objectives and goals of a preventive maintenance plan are to reduce unplanned downtime, take maintenance measures to reduce accident risks, and increase the asset’s longevity. The plan also includes reducing asset replacement costs and ensuring compliance with standard regulations and laws.

3. What is the role of CMMS in preventive maintenance?

A CMMS platform streamlines maintenance operations by automating work order creation, providing real-time data access, managing assets and inventory, and seamlessly integrating with other systems.