You may have heard the popular saying “prevention is better than cure”, which basically recommends actively taking measures to prevent problems from occurring, as it is easier to prevent rather than deal with the damage.
As a maintenance manager, you can also apply this principle to the maintenance of technical equipment.
Proactively taking care of your equipment and assets and performing routine maintenance procedures on them can lead to fewer breakdowns and reduce repair costs. Routine maintenance is usually less expensive than repairing or replacing assets.
For a maintenance manager, this approach is known as a preventive maintenance strategy – anticipating future breakdowns and problems and preventing their occurrence by taking action beforehand. For example, regular cleaning and running antivirus and malware scans serve as preventive measures for the maintenance of laptops.
Consistently performing these and other similar activities would prevent problems in these machines and reduce downtime, which would in turn have a positive effect on productivity and efficiency in the organization.
To successfully implement a preventive maintenance strategy, you need a preventive maintenance (PM) checklist – a detailed document that lists all the necessary steps and procedures for periodic inspections of tangible assets.
A PM checklist serves a valuable purpose, as it helps plan and execute maintenance activities thoroughly and systematically. Without a checklist, the process will be more chaotic and several steps may be left out.
In this guide, we will explore how a PM checklist helps improve the health and longevity of your assets, how it streamlines maintenance operations, and the steps involved in creating one.
How is a checklist vital to maintenance planning?
Reportedly, eighty-eight percent of industrial organizations leverage a preventive maintenance strategy and many of them use a PM checklist to help organize and streamline their processes.
PM checklists help plan and schedule maintenance activities, allowing better time and resource management. They also help you implement safety protocols in a timely manner to prevent safety hazards. The checklist includes all safety protocols, and if there are any missing, maintenance managers can easily add them to the list. This increases equipment reliability, ensures the safety of users, and extends the equipment’s lifespan.
Using a PM checklist expedites maintenance planning for both maintenance managers and technicians, and helps them make data-driven decisions. Additionally, it improves adherence to regulations, enhances accountability, and reduces the need for emergency repairs.
A PM checklist is also an effective tool for maintenance managers to track asset maintenance history. Such documentation allows managers and technicians to identify gaps in maintenance routines so they can be addressed on time.
Let’s look at a sample checklist for manufacturing equipment:
- Inspect the machine for any visible signs of wear and tear, or damage
- Check and tighten all nuts, bolts, and screws
- Change oil filters and air filters
- Inspect and test emergency stop buttons and other security features
- Conduct a thorough check of the machine to remove all dirt and debris
- Check the machine’s alignment
- Analyze the condition of chains and belts, replace them if needed
- Inspect the machine’s control panel
There are different checklist templates that maintenance managers can customize to enhance ease of use. However, every PM checklist consists of some key elements, including:
- Equipment details: Name, identification number, ownership, location, and vendor
- Maintenance steps: A detailed list of all the steps required to maintain a piece of equipment, including lubricating, repairing, and replacing.
- Safety checks: A plan stating the required procedure to ensure the machines are used safely. Checks can include verifying the functionality of safety features, inspecting for potential hazards or damage, and ensuring compliance with safety regulations.
- Parts and materials: A list of any parts and inventory needed for the maintenance activity.
- Prioritization of asset repairs: A plan identifying the order in which critical tasks and maintenance activities need to be executed.
- Documentation: A section of additional comments and any maintenance aspects that still need to be addressed.
All of this information organizes the maintenance procedure and ensures thoroughness. While these are some of the key elements of a PM checklist, let’s look at the steps involved in creating one.
How to make a thorough preventive maintenance checklist
Creating a thorough checklist and ensuring that it includes the right maintenance activities is critical to achieving optimal equipment performance. Ideally, you should create a separate checklist for each asset.
Here is what you need to do for each checklist:
1. Assess current equipment condition
To assess equipment condition, schedule periodic inspections so maintenance managers and technicians have thorough information regarding the equipment’s health and any needed repairs. Once you determine your equipment’s condition, you can identify problems or potential problems and their root causes at an early stage, preventing the need for extensive repairs in the long run.
Additionally, the assessment optimizes your equipment to run at maximum capacity.
Detailed equipment analysis allows maintenance managers to accurately plan maintenance activities and avoid performing any unnecessary procedures. It also enables them to add important procedures to the checklist according to the equipment’s condition.
A maintenance manager can also conduct a safety check on the equipment, so in the case of non-compliance with safety protocols, safety steps can be incorporated into the checklist.
2. Analyze past maintenance trends
Analyzing past trends involves studying historical maintenance data to identify what procedures have been performed on the equipment in the past and which have not been.
For example, you can determine the root cause of a forklift’s frequent breakdowns based on historical data of the maintenance routines carried out on it. Perhaps an essential maintenance step was missing or certain parts have not been replaced or serviced for several years.
This analysis provides valuable insights that help improve the overall preventive maintenance strategy and evaluate the effectiveness of the past maintenance routines.
Maintenance managers can make decisions according to whether these procedures need to be performed now or whether additional steps are required first. If certain important procedures have been left out in the past, adding them now may prevent larger problems from occurring in the future.
By timely analyzing past equipment failures and current maintenance frequencies, you can create a holistic checklist that caters to each aspect of the maintenance procedure. You can then determine if the existing maintenance practices are helpful in lowering equipment downtime and if not, your checklist can account for these factors.
3. Set objectives for the checklist
When creating a checklist, it is paramount to begin with clear and concise objectives. These objectives guide the procedure’s creation and implementation.
Objectives can include reduced equipment downtime, increased safety, and optimized costs. Maintenance managers can create and use the checklists keeping these objectives in mind so the tasks listed in the checklist can be directed towards achieving these objectives.
For example, a manager schedules a maintenance check for a printer to ensure high-quality printouts and prevent regular paper jams. The primary objective is to improve the printer’s life and reduce repair time.
The checklist for this routine can include cleaning the printhead, filling cartridges with ink, assessing the alignment of the paper tray, and checking cable ports. By inspecting these aspects and following a goal-driven checklist to detect potential problems, the maintenance manager can ensure that the printer’s health is maintained.
Also, a maintenance management system can make it easier to assess and calculate the tangible impact of these checks – such as reduced printer reservations for maintenance and decreased downtime.
4. Create and implement the checklist
Once you have set the objectives for your checklist, the next step is to create the actual checklist and implement it. It is advisable for the maintenance manager to seek advice from the senior technician to better plan maintenance activities.
List activities in a sequence that makes sense and allows for maximum efficiency. You can break the checklist into categories so you can divide activities into groups to ensure a particular process is completed.
For example, for a laptop, the checklist may have sections such as cleaning, antivirus and malware protection, battery check, safety protocols, etc. Once all the activities in a category are completed, you can check the whole process off your list.
However, merely writing a checklist is not enough – implementing it is also a crucial step.
To successfully implement a checklist, the maintenance manager needs to decide on a workflow. This includes finalizing the time and process for each asset to be inspected and for routine maintenance to be carried out.
It is also important to make sure your technicians and team are familiar with the checklist and understand it thoroughly. Make sure your checklist includes any preliminary or sub-steps that are required to complete larger steps. This ensures that a uniform approach is followed and all equipment is thoroughly catered to.
5. Track results
Once a checklist is finalized and implemented, the next step is to track results based on the overall equipment performance. This process includes monitoring the outcomes of maintenance activities and comparing them against benchmarks. Comparing equipment’s performance against each item in the checklist will help determine the effectiveness of the preventive maintenance strategy.
If your checklist is unable to yield the desired results, then you can adjust your checklist accordingly.
There are also different types of checklists to track results such as yes/ no and step-by-step checklists. For example, you can create a yes/no checklist which can include measures to complete an inspection. If an inspection item is marked ‘no’ in the status category, then this step can be added to the asset’s PM checklist.
Here are some sample items that can be included in your tracking results checklist for a forklift:
- Engine oil level within acceptable limits (Yes/ No)
- Fork is free from cracks or distortions (Yes / No)
- Parking brake effectively holds the vehicle (Yes / No)
- Seatbelt functional and in good condition (Yes / No)
By tracking these parameters, the maintenance manager can assess whether the PM checklist for the forklift was thorough and appropriate.
Creating and implementing a preventive maintenance checklist becomes easier and more straightforward when using a maintenance management solution. The system allows maintenance managers to access asset details, and decide maintenance routines accordingly.
By doing so, they can generate asset-specific checklists directly from the system and refer to them whenever needed.
Maintenance operations cannot be executed successfully without achieving precision and consistency. As stated above, a preventive maintenance checklist is one of the most effective ways to achieve this consistency. Without a checklist, a maintenance manager might miss out on important steps in maintenance activities that could add value to the process. Overlooked steps can translate into higher repair costs and reactive maintenance, which is not a desired outcome.
In short, creating a preventive maintenance checklist is in your organization’s best interest as it significantly increases overall efficiency.
About EZO CMMS
EZO CMMS is the next generation maintenance management software. It does more than just simple maintenance, it empowers your teams with a central command center to assign and complete work orders to achieve optimal productivity. We offer a free 15-day trial – no credit card required!