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Routine maintenance: A how-to-guide to manage facilities proactively

Routine maintenance is performing regular tasks to keep equipment or machinery functioning correctly.
Routine Maintenance

What is routine maintenance?

Routine maintenance regularly maintains facilities, buildings, and equipment at scheduled intervals.

Its goals are to keep equipment in the best condition, identify and fix issues before they become problems, and avoid costly reactive or emergency maintenance.

Why is routine maintenance essential?

A routine maintenance schedule is essential to keep your business running smoothly. As a result, you'll enjoy multiple benefits, including improved productivity, enhanced safety, and lower costs.

  • Improved productivity: Faulty equipment requires downtime to repair, which is time spent not working. Routine maintenance minimizes equipment breakdowns and keeps your machines running at optimal performance.
  • Enhanced safety: Routine maintenance improves safety in the workplace by enabling maintenance teams to identify issues early and take proactive steps to prevent serious accidents. Routine maintenance plays a crucial role in workplace safety. Neglected equipment could have problems, such as faulty wiring, that could lead to severe accidents like electrical shocks or fires.
  • Lower costs: Regular maintenance extends equipment lifespan by identifying and addressing problems before they cause grave damage. You will avoid expensive emergency repairs and replacements, improving your bottom line.

Performing routine maintenance is an investment that future-proofs your business; let’s see how you can get started.

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Routine maintenance workflow - how does it work?

A routine maintenance workflow is the process of scheduling, documenting, and completing maintenance tasks at regular intervals.

Each facility or piece of equipment will have its unique maintenance workflow, as it will vary based on the specific needs of your business.

Critical steps in a typical routine maintenance workflow include:

  1. Create a maintenance schedule: Your business is a collection of systems, and each one needs proper maintenance to run smoothly. The first step should be to create a schedule for all the equipment and systems you want to maintain.
  2. Track maintenance tasks: Once you set your schedule, you need a way to track all of your maintenance duties. You can use a spreadsheet or database to track your tasks and deadlines or rely on a CMMS to track this information.
  3. Carry out maintenance: Once your schedule is in place, it's time to carry out all the scheduled tasks. Make sure to document everything for future reference — you can prevent most problems with the proper maintenance actions.
  4. Review maintenance tasks: Regularly review your maintenance schedule to ensure it is still appropriate for your business needs. For example, you may find that some systems require more frequent attention than you anticipated or that some tasks are no longer necessary.

You may now be wondering about the difference between preventive and routine maintenance. After all, both aim to do the same thing — keep your systems and equipment in good working condition.

Here’s what makes each one unique.

Routine maintenance vs. Preventive maintenance

Routine and preventive maintenance share the same goal: to keep systems and equipment running smoothly. However, they take different approaches to achieve this goal:

  • Reduce equipment wear and tear
  • Cut on unplanned downtime
  • Avoid expensive machinery replacements

Routine maintenance focuses more on general inspection and cleaning. Preventive maintenance targets specific areas or components, such as belts and bearings.

Preventive maintenance is more skill-intensive and time-consuming, involving more detailed inspection and repair work.

But this means that it can prevent more significant problems from occurring in the future.

While this might make preventive maintenance look like the obvious choice, it comes with higher costs.

Essential routine maintenance is more affordable, making it the better option if you're strapped for resources or working with low-cost machinery.

On the other hand, preventive maintenance is the superior option when dealing with higher-end machines that cost more to fix in case of a breakdown.

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What are the types of routine maintenance?

There are several types of routine maintenance out there. Your pick depends on the specific needs and requirements of your equipment. These are:

  • Time-based maintenance: This is a simple and cost-effective routine maintenance strategy where tasks are carried out at regular intervals, such as every month or year.
  • Condition-based maintenance: This method uses real-time data monitoring to detect changes in the condition of equipment components, triggering preemptive repairs or replacements before problems occur.
  • Risk-based maintenance: This maintenance strategy prioritizes tasks based on the risk of equipment failure and the cost of repairs. Parts more at risk are given more attention, as they are more likely to break down.
  • Predictive maintenance: This strategy uses sophisticated monitoring systems and data analytics to predict the likelihood of a problem occurring or when equipment will need to be replaced.

When deciding which maintenance strategy to use for a particular piece of equipment or facility, there are several factors to consider.

Different types of machinery have different operational requirements and thus need tailored strategies.

For instance, a risk-based approach is better suited to something like an industrial turbine engine, as it is susceptible to changes in operating conditions and can face catastrophic consequences if it fails.

On the other hand, a time-based approach is often used with items with a predictable lifespan, such as escalators or conveyor belts.

Another factor to consider is the cost and complexity of the equipment.

If you are dealing with expensive or specialized machinery, use a predictive maintenance approach that uses sophisticated monitoring tools and data analytics to predict potential problems before they occur.

Similarly, suppose your equipment involves safety-critical tasks. In that case, it's appropriate to use a condition-based maintenance strategy that leverages real-time data monitoring to detect changes early on and trigger preemptive repairs.

Other factors to consider when deciding on a routine maintenance strategy include the age of the equipment, frequency of use, and environmental conditions.

Ultimately, your goal should be to find a system that balances cost with risk while ensuring that your equipment is properly maintained and running smoothly.

Let’s see some real-world examples of each one of these.

Examples of routine maintenance across industries

Let's look at how different industries use different strategies in their business.

In the manufacturing industry, time-based maintenance is the most popular. This involves scheduling routine tasks like oil changes and filter replacements regularly.

But, again, following the manufacturer's recommendation is best. In most cases, these are carried out a few times a year.

This strategy is also common in the food service industry. For example, when there is a problem when sensors detect increased temperatures in an oven. Or when there is a sudden drop in the flow rate of water.

Maintenance technicians step in to fix the problem before it gets worse.

In the healthcare industry, risk-based maintenance for medical devices is common.

This might involve replacing components like batteries and sensors regularly. Or it might involve tracking daily usage data to determine when equipment is nearing the end of its lifecycle.

Predictive maintenance is becoming popular in industries like transportation and logistics.

These rely on costly equipment that needs to be kept running efficiently at all times.

Sensors collect data on key metrics like fuel consumption and engine wear and relay it to a central monitoring system, which allows maintenance crews to make repairs before problems arise.

When should you use routine maintenance?

Routine maintenance is best suited to equipment with a steady and predictable usage level over the long term, such as industrial machinery or building infrastructure.

Some key considerations when deciding whether or not to use routine maintenance include the cost of repairs or replacement, the complexity of the equipment, and any safety or regulatory concerns.

Routine maintenance is essential for any business that runs smoothly on machinery and equipment. Regular inspections and preventative repairs prevent costly downtime or equipment failures while improving your assets' longevity and performance.

Your equipment is pivotal in deciding what routine maintenance system works best.

You can get by with a time-based maintenance strategy if it is relatively new and has minor wear and tear. But, if your equipment is aging or showing signs of wear and tear, it may be a good idea to incorporate condition-based maintenance.

Your risk tolerance and budget constraints also play a role in the decision. In addition, specific equipment needs more in-depth, data-driven maintenance strategies, such as predictive or condition-based maintenance.

Ultimately, the best approach to routine maintenance will depend on your specific needs and requirements and the type of machinery you are working with.

Routine maintenance comes with many advantages. Let’s see them.

Advantages of routine maintenance

Implementing routine maintenance in your business comes with three main advantages:

  • It prevents costly downtime: Production is a delicate symphony of components. A single component that isn't working correctly can derail the entire process.
  • It saves money in the long run: You will catch problems early and replace components before they need significant repairs.
  • It improves business efficiency: You won't have to deal with equipment malfunctions or unexpected downtime anymore.

Sounds great, right? Unfortunately, there are some downsides as well.

Disadvantages of routine maintenance

Routine maintenance comes with its own set of challenges. These are:

  • Resources needed for routine maintenance: This often comes down to needing specialized tools, equipment, or expertise to perform routine maintenance tasks properly.
  • Extra hires: In some cases, an organization might need to hire more people or extra contractors to perform routine maintenance tasks properly.
  • Need to adjust timetables: In some cases, routine maintenance tasks must be scheduled at a certain point, so they don't interfere with other activities. This can cause disruptions and make it harder for employees to stay on schedule.

Now that you know the pros and cons let’s see how you can create an efficient routine maintenance strategy.

A step-by-step guide to creating a routine maintenance strategy

Going from 0 to a fully-fledged routine maintenance strategy sounds daunting. But it doesn’t have to be. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  1. Identify which equipment and machinery need regular servicing. This could include heavy or sensitive machinery, production lines, and electrical systems.
  2. Develop a maintenance schedule that considers each tool's specific needs and requirements. This might include regular inspection, cleaning, lubrication, and repairs.
  3. Invest in a CMMS. This crucial tool will make managing and recording your maintenance schedule a breeze. With a centralized database and customizable alerts, you’ll always know when and where equipment is due for maintenance.
  4. Track maintenance tasks and ensure they are completed on time and according to specifications.
  5. Invest in training to improve staff awareness of best practices when it comes to maintenance.

Now you know everything you need to create a successful maintenance strategy. The only part left is picking the right tools for the job.

A CMMS is a great place to start.

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How does a CMMS help with routine maintenance?

A CMMS (Computerized Maintenance Management System) solution helps organizations manage routine maintenance tasks and activities.

It helps streamline processes, track maintenance schedules, alert users of upcoming tasks, store data, and more.

The main benefit a CMMS provides is its centralized database and customizable alerts.

For example, you can keep an inventory of all your equipment, assign routine maintenance tasks to your staff and get reminders when assignments are due.

This helps to ensure that your maintenance activities are carried out in a timely and systematic manner, minimizing disruptions and ensuring the safety of your equipment.

Facilio's CMMS platform helps increase productivity and efficiency by reducing the need for manual data entry. For example, rather than manually tracking work orders and requests, you can assign tasks to your employees through our solution and receive updates on their progress in real-time.

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