Set Up a Preventive Maintenance Program in 5 Steps

Now that you know why you need a preventive maintenance program, it’s time to do something about it. We can all agree that reacting to unexpected equipment failures is more expensive, less efficient and more disruptive than a proactive approach.

Still, scheduling inspections and maintenance tasks in order to prevent issues before they occur can seem overwhelming when you consider all of the equipment on your plant floor. Where to begin?

Follow these 5 simple steps to set up a preventive maintenance program that will reward your efforts with increased efficiency, less downtime, and improved overall operations.

Set Goals


Before you begin assessing, analyzing and inspecting, get specific about your goals. What, exactly, do you hope your preventive maintenance program will achieve? Defining your goals will help you prioritize and shape your program.

Is your motivation to reduce expenses? Focus on minimizing downtime and reducing costs associated with unexpected repairs, from the price of emergency spare parts to maintenance labor.

Are you looking to increase efficiency and maximize output? Plan to squeeze the most production time possible out of your machines. Perhaps you’re focused on regulatory compliance. In that case, your driving goal would be to improve your planned maintenance percentage.

Inventory Your Equipment

Taking stock of your equipment is a crucial step. Software can help simplify this process, as you’ll be collecting a range of data for each essential piece of equipment.

Start with basics like make and model, serial number, vital specs and location of the equipment. Beyond these essentials, record secondary information like the age of the equipment, its condition and the department or individual who is responsible for it.

While you’re collecting data, give your equipment a priority rating that reflects how crucial the machine is to your overall operations. This rating is a good starting point for the assessment involved in the next step.

Make note of prior failures for each piece of equipment so you can be sure to build in preventive maintenance tasks associated with problem areas. Recording this information now will help you track maintenance costs and determine if and when a piece of equipment needs to be replaced.

Analyze & Prioritize

Take a closer look at the data you collected about the state of your equipment (age, condition, etc.). Deeper analysis at this stage will help you start making some important decisions.

The goal is to assess the health of each piece of equipment and rank it by priority. Start by determining if the machine is operating at manufacturers’ specifications.

As you hone in on the current operational status of each asset, start to prioritize them. How crucial is each piece of equipment to your operations? How significantly would a failure affect production or even safety?

You may find that some of your equipment doesn’t make the cut for your preventive maintenance program. This is a good time to determine which units need to be retired and replaced. For machinery that’s on its way out, it may make sense to simply replace or repair it when it fails.

Once you’ve prioritized your list of equipment, set realistic operational goals for each machine so you can track the effectiveness of your preventive maintenance efforts.

Plan & Schedule Maintenance Tasks

Starting with your highest priority equipment, set a maintenance schedule for short- and long-term preventive maintenance work. Create a schedule for the entire year, breaking it down into daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, bi-annual and annual tasks.

Source: Plant Engineering Maintenance Report, March 2017
When determining what’s necessary to maintain your machine, start with manufacturer recommendations and warranty conditions, then consider the equipment’s history and any input from those who regularly work with the machine.

For each scheduled task, list the work that needs to be completed, outline the procedures and include any necessary parts or tools. Do the same for each piece of equipment on your list, again prioritizing your most crucial machinery. Preventive maintenance software can simplify the scheduling process.

Delegate Tasks & Train

Get the most out of your new preventive maintenance plan with proper training. Take the time to thoroughly train the people who will be carrying out the maintenance tasks, big and small. This includes clearly communicating goals, from the overall purpose of your program down to specific goals for each piece of equipment.

The individuals working on the equipment will be directly involved in reaching these goals, so make sure to celebrate successes, report on progress and keep your entire team informed about the benefits of your preventive maintenance program.

Setting up a preventive maintenance program doesn’t have to be difficult, but we’ll admit that there’s a lot of legwork involved. If your resources are already spread thin, consider outsourcing your preventive maintenance program to MW.

We’ve set up countless preventive maintenance programs for a wide variety of clients over the years, and we’d be happy to help you get up and running.