How to Setup a Preventative Maintenance Program

It’s well-established that utilizing a planned or preventative maintenance program can save you thousands of dollars every year in maintenance and repair costs, extend the lifespan of your equipment and reduce downtime. Regardless of the potential benefits, however, many operations do not utilize preventative maintenance at their facilities. For some of these businesses, there’s a degree of uncertainty surrounding the benefits of preventative maintenance and how to transition from their current maintenance strategy to a more proactive approach. To address those concerns and provide a simplified path forwards, we’ll review the key benefits and provide a basic guide on how to implement a planned maintenance program below:

How is Preventative Maintenance Different?

  • Also known as corrective maintenance reactive maintenance includes all maintenance tasks performed to identify, isolate and correct issues to restore a piece of equipment to operational conditions. Essentially, reactive maintenance only looks to diagnose and fix defective or inoperative equipment. However, by waiting until equipment is no longer operational, reactive maintenance results in expensive downtime and repairs, reduced productivity and a substantial decrease in the economic lifespan of the equipment.
  • Preventative maintenance, on the other hand, is any and all maintenance work completed on a regular basis to reduce the possibility of equipment failure, breakdowns and unscheduled downtime. In contrast to reactive maintenance, preventative maintenance is proactively performed while the equipment is still in good operating condition with the intention of keeping it that way. But what, exactly, are the benefits of following a preventative maintenance program?

Key Benefits of Preventative Maintenance

  • Reduce Lost Profits and Productivity – Obviously, if your equipment is poorly maintained and prone to unexpected or lengthy breakdowns, it’s difficult to maximize your productivity. Whenever equipped sits unused due to unnecessary breakdowns, your business suffers from lost productivity since, without functional equipment, certain operations grind to a halt as goods and equipment cannot be transported when and where necessary. The natural by-product of this lost productivity is a loss in profits as orders are unfilled and production schedules are disrupted while labor and maintenance costs continue to accumulate. Utilizing a preventative maintenance plan helps to catch potential issues before they arise and, therefore, avoid the lengthy downtime associated with significant repairs. For more information on how this could effect your bottom-line, read our blog on the costs of improper forklift maintenance.
  • Extend the Life of Your Equipment – Every piece of material handling equipment you own will ultimately need to be replaced at some point in the future. However, following a preventative maintenance program can help to extend the life of your equipment by preventing unnecessary damage to key components such as the engine and transmission.
  • Control Maintenance Costs – One of the consequences of utilizing a reactionary approach to equipment maintenance is an increase in unexpected and costly repairs. Without taking action to prolong the life of your equipment and proactively address your maintenance needs, you are essentially at the mercy of your equipment without control over when and where maintenance takes place. On the other hand, taking a more proactive approach helps to limit repair costs as it’s almost always cheaper to maintain your equipment than make a repair after the fact. What’s more, PM programs also allow you to schedule maintenance tasks within the flow of your business by performing repairs during periods of expected downtime or off-peak hours.

Steps in Setting Up a Preventative Maintenance

Select Your Equipment

The first step in establishing a successful preventative maintenance program is to select what equipment will be included. To create your list, we recommend that you consider the following factors to maximize the impact and ROI:

  • Which machines are most important to production/organizational success?
  • Is regular maintenance required for this piece of equipment?
  • Are the repair and replacement costs high?

Basically, you should select equipment that will require frequent maintenance and/or have higher replacement or repair costs as this will provide a better return on investment. Conversely, you should omit older models that are reaching the end of their economic life as these will need to be replaced soon anyways.

Gather All the Necessary Information

To ensure you’re preventative maintenance plan will provide a positive ROI and saves money for your business at the end of the day, you could calculate your potential savings for each asset. To do this, you’ll need to determine what maintenance tasks are performed on each unit, the frequency of those tasks and your current costs. To do this, you should check the manufacturer’s service recommendations, check your vehicles service history and maintenance reports, and consult with your service technicians, maintenance staff and operators. You’ll also want to consider the hidden costs of a reactive approach to your maintenance needs such as lost productivity due to downtime, unnecessary repairs and a short equipment replacement cycle.

Implement, Track and Adjust

Once you’ve established your list of equipment and collected your data, it’s time for the implementation phase. One of the key factors in successfully implementing your program and maximizing your ROI is maintenance scheduling. To minimize the impact of equipment maintenance on your operation, you should schedule downtime for maintenance during off-peak hours and/or off-set maintenance for multiple forklifts.

After that, it’s all about tracking and making adjustments. While you took the time to gather data and carefully design a PM program that meets your business and maintenance needs, there are always improvements that can be made. This will help you avoid overscheduling maintenance tasks while ensuring all of your equipment is properly serviced and repaired, thereby ensuring a positive return on investment.

To analyze and adjust your program, consider the number of breakdowns or failures per machine (if any) and compare that with its maintenance schedule. If a forklift did not experience a single breakdown, it’s possible that it could continue doing so with less maintenance. On the other hand, if a unit experiences regular breakdowns in spite of the regular inspections and preventative maintenance performed on it during this period, you likely need to increase the maintenance frequency once the cause of these breakdowns has been diagnosed and addressed.

In Closing

If planned, implemented and tracked properly, planned maintenance programs are a great way to save on maintenance costs, improve productivity and improve the safety of your operation. In the end, a PM program can save you up to 70% on your maintenance costs if properly implemented and adjusted – and that’s before accounting for the hidden costs associated with increased downtime and lost productivity. Through our planned maintenance agreements, your business can save thousands of dollars per year in maintenance-related expenses, as well as avoid the indirect costs of equipment failures such as lost productivity and/or safety-related issues such as employee injuries, government fines and shutdowns. For more information on the benefits of participating in one of our planned maintenance programs or details about our forklift repair services, feel free to contact Lucas Liftruck today!

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