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What's Your Game Plan for Low-Cost Preventive Maintenance?

Designing a cost-effective preventive maintenance strategy for your team starts with a few essential techniques. You can significantly reduce repair costs by implementing preventive maintenance strategies, but many organizations are unsure how to get started. If you don’t have a game plan, you may not get a high ROI from investments in preventive maintenance measures.

You can implement some tips and techniques to build a preventive maintenance strategy that balances cost and effectiveness.

Cost-Effective Preventive Maintenance Techniques

Building a cost-effective preventive maintenance strategy starts with a few core methods anyone can adapt to their workplace or equipment. Cost-effective maintenance techniques minimize the expense of repairs and inspections by improving process efficiency. These tactics can help you streamline your team’s preventive maintenance procedures.


Standardize Maintenance Processes

Standardization is vital for successful preventive maintenance. A common issue repair teams encounter across every industry is inconsistent repair and inspection processes. Different team members might use different steps, criteria or tools. As a result, it’s more difficult to track maintenance effectiveness and prevent breakdowns.

Creating standardized processes allows you to build a foundation for measurable goals. You can track the frequency of repairs and equipment failures, and rest assured that fluctuations in your data aren’t due to inconsistent maintenance procedures. Standardizing your maintenance practices may prevent malfunctions by eliminating unsafe or makeshift repairs.

For example, one aircraft service truck company used Internet of Things (IoT) devices to collect data on workflows, maintenance and operations. Insights from this data allowed the company to streamline and optimize its workflows and improve vehicle and employee performance.


Allow for Flexibility

One element of your preventive maintenance strategy you may not want to standardize is scheduling. Some teams design their preventive maintenance procedures with a standard schedule for all vehicles and equipment. Regular repairs and inspections are essential, so this seems like a good idea at first glance. However, it may not be cost-effective.

Every vehicle and piece of equipment requires a slightly different approach to maintenance. Some equipment is simply more durable than others. So, design a schedule for inspections that allows flexibility from one unit to another. You’ll also want to factor in usage frequency and age. These changes ensure your team members use inspection time as efficiently as possible.


Integrate Predictive Maintenance Tools

Predictive maintenance is the next evolution of preventive maintenance, but the two approaches aren’t mutually exclusive. You can augment preventive maintenance by integrating predictive maintenance tools into your strategy, particularly IoT.

IoT sensors allow you to automate many tasks and collect valuable data about your equipment. These functions can help you improve and optimize your preventive maintenance strategy. For instance, performance data from IoT sensors can reveal which vehicles are most prone to breakdowns. With that information in mind, you can schedule more frequent inspections for those vehicles.

Machine learning can also elevate your preventive maintenance strategy. You can use machine learning models to automate data analysis for incoming IoT data. Machine learning is especially useful in environments with dozens or hundreds of pieces of equipment to monitor. For instance, one medical technology company reduced downtime by 500 machine hours by integrating machine learning into its maintenance strategy.

How to Build Your Own Preventive Maintenance Strategy

How can you apply these techniques and build your own preventive maintenance strategy? Every organization’s approach to preventive maintenance is slightly different, but you can implement a few essential steps to streamline the process.


Know What and How to Test

The starting point for any preventive or predictive maintenance strategy is determining what equipment and vehicles you need to test or monitor. You may only need preventive maintenance for some of your team's equipment. Some assets are simply not valuable enough for preventive maintenance to be cost-effective.

For instance, items like electric hand tools that get replaced regularly typically don’t need preventive maintenance inspections. So, start by identifying your team’s most valuable assets and analyzing what components of those assets are most likely to malfunction. Then, create a comprehensive list of systems you should regularly test or inspect.

After deciding what to test, determine what processes your team will use to test your equipment and what preventive repairs they will conduct. Remember that every piece of equipment may benefit most from different testing methods depending on the risk factors at hand.

For example, vibration testing is highly effective for detecting structural defects and ensuring equipment is still up to vibration tolerance standards. However, sinusoidal vibration testing might work best for one piece of equipment, while random vibration testing works best for another. Consider all your options for any testing you want to use in preventive maintenance inspections.


Understand Your Most Common Maintenance Issues

Low-cost preventive maintenance is all about focusing on the biggest issues first. High maintenance costs are often due to several common, repetitive issues rather than many disconnected mechanical problems. So, identifying the most common malfunctions your team deals with can help you concentrate your preventive maintenance efforts.

Remember, a well-executed preventive maintenance strategy should save money, not increase maintenance costs. Research shows that the average organization reduces maintenance costs by up to 18% by implementing preventive maintenance techniques. Achieving those savings requires knowing what repairs currently cost the most money. All too often, these are repetitive, reactive repairs.

Study your existing maintenance data and identify the most pressing repairs and malfunctions your team commonly faces. To maximize your ROI, ensure you allocate monitoring equipment and inspection time to prioritize those issues.


Determine Appropriate Alert Rate Limits

The alert rate is the allowed frequency of maintenance alerts triggered by your monitoring equipment, such as IoT sensors or an alarm. For instance, you might set an alarm to remind your team to inspect a certain vehicle once per month.

Cost-effective preventive maintenance requires finding a balance between too many and too few alerts. Allowing alerts to come through every time a performance anomaly is detected can get expensive and waste time.

Setting an alert rate limit can help your team filter out false positives and use inspection time more efficiently. Depending on how many assets you maintain, choose an alert limit that keeps you ahead of problems without overwhelming your team.


Train Your Team

It’s crucial to train your team on preventive maintenance processes. Improving heavy equipment maintenance can significantly improve employee safety, but success relies on employee buy-in. Your team members need to understand why preventive maintenance is important and how they can help.

The last step in developing preventive maintenance procedures is creating a training program for your team. Go over the benefits of preventive maintenance and explain your new standardized maintenance processes. Remember to explain any monitoring tech, as well, and highlight your goals for your preventive maintenance strategy.

Unlocking the Benefits of Preventive Maintenance

A well-designed preventive maintenance game plan can save money, improve equipment performance and increase employee safety. The techniques and tips outlined here will help you design a strategy that maximizes the benefits of preventive maintenance for your team. Ultimately, achieving a high ROI on your preventive maintenance strategy is all about prioritizing the most expensive causes of repairs and building an efficient system for equipment tune-ups.

Emily Newton
Emily Newton
Emily Newton is the Editor-in-Chief of Revolutionized, an online magazine celebrating advances in science and technology.

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