Honestly, it’s not just 2023. You’ve always needed a preventive maintenance plan. It’s how you get out ahead of maintenance, finding and fixing small issues before they have a chance to grow into budget-busting problems. Without it, you’re trapped doing on-demand, reactive maintenance, never knowing where the next fire is going to pop up or how you’re going to put it out. But in 2023, with supply chains tightening and budgets shrinking, you need preventive maintenance more than ever before.
Before looking at the why, let’s start with the what. What is a preventive maintenance program?
What is a preventive maintenance program?
Preventive maintenance is one of a handful of established maintenance strategies. Others include on-demand and predictive maintenance. With preventive maintenance, you’re trying to find and fix small issues long before they have a chance to work their way into being big problems.
You can sort of sum up preventive maintenance with that old saying about an ounce of prevention being worth a pound of cure.
And it’s worth noticing how size plays a part in it. You can also sort of sum up preventive maintenance as “sooner and smaller.”
Instead of waiting for an engine to seize, you get in there sooner to periodically check and change the oil. Because you’re avoiding large repairs, you’re also avoiding all those associated costs. If the engine stops working, it costs you a lot in labor, parts and materials, and lost productivity. The cost of sending someone to check and change the oil, including the cost of the oil, is smaller.
A preventive maintenance program is the complete combination of scheduled inspections and tasks (called PMs) you set up to look after your assets and equipment.
Some you set based on time while others are usage. For something like a section of conveyor belt in a fulfillment center, you might set a PM for every two weeks. Same for the roof. You have someone go up and look for leaks every spring, for example. But for a pump, you would likely set your PMs based on cycles. So, every time the pump cycles a set number of times, you have someone check it.
What are the benefits of preventive maintenance?
Preventive maintenance can be many things to many people.
Benefits for maintenance techs
Techs love preventive maintenance because it makes their work more predictable, less stressful. When they come to work, they know what they’ve got scheduled for the day, making it much easier to efficiently plan their time and collect the tools and materials they need.
It also helps them ensure they have the knowledge they need for each task. Asking questions ahead of time is a lot easier than having to track down help mid-way through an emergency repair.
Just how important is predictability when it comes to managing stress?
Very. In fact, there’s an entire type of stress called uncertainty-induced stress. According to experts, not knowing makes it hard to feel like you are in control of a situation. Because you don’t know enough about what’s around the corner, and it could be anything, preparation becomes impossible.
Think of it this way: It’s why the scariest part of a scary movie is right before the monster jumps out of the closet. That’s when you know the monster is coming, but you don’t know how bad it’s going to be, delivering enough nightmare fuel to your imagination to make it all unbearable.
Benefits for maintenance managers
It’s a long list, but likely at the top is how preventive maintenance saves you money. Because you can plan everything out in advance, you don’t have to worry about rush deliveries on parts and materials or paying overtime to the team.
Instead, work gets done with parts and materials you have in inventory, by techs working their regular hours.
And it’s more than just the timing. It’s also the technique.
When you set up a PM, for an inspection or tasks, you can include all the information a tech needs to do the work right, including step-by-step instructions, checklists, and associated parts and materials.
Benefits for everyone else, from operations to the front office
Operations love keeping the line going. With deadlines and production quotas to hit, the last thing they want is to have to slow down or stop.
Preventive maintenance makes it so the line is up more often, and when it is down, it’s down at times scheduled well in advance to cause the smallest amount possible of interruption. Instead of the equipment breaking down randomly at 10:30 on a Tuesday right before a deadline, the maintenance team gently takes it offline between production shifts, works on it quickly because they’ve already planned out all the inspections and tasks, so they have all the parts and materials ready, and has it all back up and running on schedule.
For the front office, the benefits are in the return on investment. They know they could spend a bit upfront to save a lot on maintenance costs, delayed production, dangerous facility conditions, and even reputation-destroying accidents.
Why do you need a preventive maintenance strategy in 2023?
Again, you’ve always needed one. Preventive maintenance has always been a good idea, in the same way “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” has been true since the first time someone said it.
Tight supply chains
Overall, there’s a good chance 2023 will be better for supply chain snags than the last two years, but “better” isn’t the same as “good.”
In fact, according to KPMG, “Disruptions to supply chain operations are set to stay in 2023, whether they be existing or new geopolitical conflicts, inflationary pressures and the recessionary environment, climate change weather events, or other issues yet to emerge.”
They go on to predict a slew of challenges, including:
- Increasing port holdups
- Shrinking freight availability
- Surging prices
What that means for maintenance departments is that it’s going to continue to be hard to get some of the parts and materials you need to keep your assets and equipment up and running.
If you have anything in your inventory or supply closet that’s produced or manufactured overseas and then shipped to you (and there’s basically no chance you don’t; everyone does), it makes sense to implement a maintenance strategy that helps you plan out and schedule work well in advance, giving you the time you need to ensure you have the right inventory on hand when you need it.
Inflation is a complex combination of economic factors, so predictions always come with a healthy pinch of salt.
That said, current predictions are that inflation is set to continue to rise.
“While the IMF predicts that global inflation peaked in late 2022, rates in 2023 are expected to remain higher than usual in many parts of the world. Following the 8.8% global inflation rate in 2022, the IMF forecasts a 6.6% rate for 2023 and 4.3% rate for 2024 based on their most recent January 2023 update.”
What this means for maintenance departments is that it’s going to continue to be important to find ways to cut costs. If you’re wasting money on rush deliveries for emergency parts or spending a lot on unplanned overtime for techs, you need a way to reliably spend less.
You’ve always needed a preventive maintenance plan, but in 2023, you likely need one even more. Before looking at why, it’s worth answering the question “What is a preventive maintenance plan?” Preventive maintenance is how you get ahead of maintenance, finding and fixing small issues before they become large problems.
With the right set of inspections and tasks, you can save yourself a lot of time and money. In the end, it’s the same as that old saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” So, what makes 2023 the year to finally get PMs?
Even though supply chains are likely going to improve a bit, it’s still hard to get all the parts and materials you need for maintenance. So, any system that gives you more time to get everything in place makes life easier. And with this year’s predicted steady rise in global inflation, you need preventive maintenance to help you cut costs.