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Preventative Maintenance: The Ultimate Guide

We’ve all heard, and likely used, the term “if it ain't broke, don’t fix it”. It’s a well known saying and a mentality that many businesses all over the world adopt when it comes to maintaining their buildings and assets. However, doing so can lead to serious problems. Businesses with this mentality tend to address issues as and when they occur (reactive), whereas it’s more effective and beneficial to carry out a blended maintenance regime that incorporates different strategies such as planned preventative maintenance. 

In this helpful guide, we’ll discuss preventative maintenance, how it benefits today’s businesses, and the vital tools you can use to ensure utmost efficiency and safety.

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Preventative maintenance is an intervention to sustain operation of assets before they fail. The term ‘preventative maintenance’ refers to forms of planned maintenance and systems designed to prolong the life of business assets, infrastructure, resources and equipment. Examples of preventative maintenance range from simple cleaning and adjustments to more complex tasks like repairs or replacements.

Thanks to the advances in modern technology, there are plenty of tools and systems available to increase the efficiency, organisation and cost-effectiveness of planned maintenance. But we’ll get to that later. 

What is Reactive Maintenance? 

Reactive maintenance is the opposite of preventative maintenance, as it refers to repairs that must be carried out when equipment has already broken or malfunctioned. This type of maintenance is essential for restoring equipment or assets to a good condition and allowing them to resume normal operations.

However, this isn’t to say it’s always necessary, as these types of instances can be prevented. Reactive maintenance often plays a role in companies’ maintenance strategies, but an optimal approach requires the addition of planned preventative and other maintenance strategies. 

A Closer Look at Preventative Maintenance 

Preventative maintenance focuses on keeping your equipment and assets in their best condition. Rather than waiting until something has broken down, you instead carry out routine maintenance to improve equipment reliability and keep it in optimum condition. We all do this in one way or another, whether it's repairs at home or keeping a close eye on the condition of your car. However, the stakes are much higher for businesses, and poor maintenance can have serious repercussions. The two key objectives of preventive maintenance are to: 

  • Maximise the lifespan of systems and equipment
  • Prevent service interruptions and unplanned downtimes 

Realising the intended lifespan of equipment offers benefits such as increased efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and ensuring your business's reliability to customers/stakeholders. Downtime affects businesses in every industry, and it can be very costly. Downtime is the time period in which systems, machines or equipment are out of action. Therefore, condition monitoring is crucial for recognising and addressing any visible or behavioural issues with equipment. 

Typically there are three vital elements of preventative maintenance: 

  • Systematic: Inspection and maintenance carried out to ensure efficiency, reliability and predictability. 
  • Routine maintenanceRoutine tasks such as cleaning, lubricating and restoring components to prevent performance issues. 
  • Reducing & minimising failures: Replacing/maintaining worn components to prevent system failures, damage or downtime.  

What are the Benefits of Preventative Maintenance?

Improve Safety 

Building maintenance is vital for protecting your employees, customers, and the general public. Establishing and adhering to preventative maintenance schedules offers a range of safety benefits, including reduced downtime and equipment malfunctions/deterioration, preventing health hazards and avoiding injury, reducing the risk of liability lawsuits.  

All of these risks can be avoided by implementing suitable maintenance software and other tools, as you’ll be able to establish a regular, effective maintenance routine. Doing so ensures you are complying to current legislation, being aware of any safety concerns that can be addressed right away before any potential hazards or complications occur

Realise Originally Intended Lifespan of Equipment 

As we mentioned earlier, preventative maintenance allows facilities managers, building owners, contractors and consultants to take a proactive approach to their maintenance needs. Maintenance scheduling ensures all assets (systems, equipment, etc.) run as they should and suit the needs of end users.  

As you recognise issues and replace/fix poorly-performing components, you instantly have a positive impact on the level of productivity moving forwards. Realising the originally intended lifespan of equipment means you purchase new components less frequently while preventing large-scale expenditure if something should fail due to negligence. 

Increase Reliability & Productivity 

Many factors contribute to the success of a business, productivity being among the most crucial. For an organisation to maximise profits, increase leads and enhance its potential for growth — it must prevent downtime and delays at all costs. Downtime costs businesses millions and hours upon hours of productivity every year. But it can easily be avoided. Insufficient maintenance schedules and strategies massively reduce an organisation's productivity and can impact company reputation. If consumers cannot get what they need from you because you can't deliver, they'll simply take their business to a competitor. 

These days, there's no excuse for it when you consider that today's businesses have access to excellent preventative maintenance solutions. These digital platforms and solutions offer vital information on how to maintain assets properly - in a compliant fashion, tendering solutions and the ability to review/audit previous maintenance work easily. 

Effective planning of engineers increases their utilisation and reduces unplanned maintenance activity requirements 

Compliance & Legal 

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When it comes to maintenance, be it reactive or preventative, it's essential to ensure your organisation is compliant with the latest legislation and regulations. However, it's not uncommon for businesses to find themselves in hot water due to negligence or simply a lack of awareness. SFG20’s web-based service provides an ever-growing library of schedules that are regularly updated to reflect changes in legislation. 

This is crucial as it offers peace of mind to those who own or run facilities, as you have confidence knowing any schedule you put in place is up to date and fully compliant. With that box ticked, you have more time to focus on the many major or minor details of preventative maintenance. Of course, a lack of compliance can lead to a range of issues such as fines, lawsuits and, at worst, even possible injuries or fatalities.

Cut Costs 

Reactive maintenance and the downtime it incurs can be very costly. Using systems and equipment to the point of failure is significantly more expensive than performing periodic maintenance. Especially because internal employees can carry out repairs quickly, and external parties required for more significant fixes often cost more, and you may have to wait longer. Organisations that invest in preventative maintenance, with both time and money, experience fewer disruptions and breakdowns. Meaning they enjoy greater output, increased profits and decreased expenses. 

“SFG20 has reduced costs by 20% on some of our sites,” Stephen Williams, Founder and Managing Director, SO FM 

Save Energy 

Electrical assets that are poorly maintained or malfunction can often consume significantly more energy than those operating as designed. Preventative maintenance and efficient scheduling ensure such issues are identified and addressed sooner rather than later. This results in unnecessarily high energy bills, which means decreased profits. 

Additionally, reduced energy consumption ensures your business takes a proactive and conscious approach to sustainability.   This offers many benefits for modern companies, such as enhanced brand recognition, diversifying your customer base and increased business opportunities. 

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