What Are the 4 Phases of Planned Maintenance?


You’re probably familiar with the famous quote from Benjamin Franklin “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” In other words, it takes far less for you to prevent a problem than it does to fix one after the fact. Building preventative maintenance strategies is just one of the phases of planned maintenance you should be taking to safeguard your facilities and equipment. But what are the four phases of planned maintenance?

Phase 1: Corrective Maintenance

Corrective maintenance programs focus on performing repairs after a failure has already occurred. This type of maintenance is reactive and is generally only performed on a breakdown after the fact, rather than taking steps to prevent it from happening in the first place. In other words, business continues as usual using the equipment or systems until the point at which they stop working or seriously malfunction.

Benefits of Corrective Maintenance

One of the reasons that many businesses rely heavily on corrective maintenance plans is the perceived cost benefits. With these types of maintenance programs, you’re only required to pay for things when they break down. Maintenance staff is focused on repairs when they are immediately required but otherwise can work on other tasks in between failures.

As another benefit, corrective maintenance plans themselves do not generally require much in the way of advanced planning. These types of systems work especially well for the maintenance of non-critical facilities or equipment that can be easily fixed or replaced. There’s no need to devote unnecessary time and attention to these systems while they are functioning correctly, freeing up resources to be allocated elsewhere.

Strategies for Corrective Maintenance

There are generally two routes that businesses take when doing corrective maintenance. In the first, maintenance staff will work on tasks on a rolling basis, devoting their attention to whatever is the most urgent need at the moment. These maintenance programs are not necessarily planning for upcoming fixes and tend to avoid spending money on equipment that has not reached the point of failure.

Corrective maintenance isn’t generally recommended to be used as your only plan of action, however. This type of maintenance works best when used alongside the other three phases described below. The additional phases can help create maintenance systems that don’t focus entirely on emergency failures and instead allocate resources towards correcting future issues and taking preventative actions before emergencies strike.

Phase 2: Building Preventative Maintenance

Many companies use corrective maintenance by default, but one major shortcoming of this is that these methods react to failures after they occur rather than taking steps upfront to prevent them. Building preventative maintenance, by comparison, allows your company to stop the endless cycle of scrambling to catch up when breakdowns happen. It gives you time in advance to prevent major issues, since it involves the creation of routine maintenance programs.

While these strategies may seem like they cost more upfront, preventative maintenance is actually both time and cost-efficient all around. Issues are tackled when they are still minor and are comparatively simpler tasks than a major breakdown would involve. In short, prevention is an upfront investment to create long-term, sustainable repair practices.

Benefits of Preventative Maintenance

One of the key benefits of preventative maintenance is that it allows you to better allocate your resources and employee work hours. Instead of tasking your maintenance staff with responding to emergency breakdowns wherever and whenever they happen, you can instead make better use of their time. They are able to get out ahead of any problems during their regular work hours and can fix issues while they are still minor.

Additionally, preventative maintenance can help to decrease any downtimes your business faces due to malfunctioning equipment or systems. Routine maintenance can be scheduled whenever it is convenient for your company. You are able to plan any downtimes in advance and at the same time develop a strategy for how to fix issues efficiently. Having such a plan in place means repairs will take less time and effort.

Strategies for Preventative Maintenance

There are a couple of different ways that companies put preventative maintenance plans into place. The first is to perform repairs after pre-defined criteria have been met. This could include scheduling maintenance when a certain time interval has passed, a set amount of use has occurred, or enough operation hours have been reached. An example of this would be creating a quarterly maintenance schedule.

A second approach that many companies take is to perform maintenance based on the overall condition of the equipment. When the equipment has reached a certain point of wear or damage, the maintenance plan will be implemented to prevent any further harm from occurring. This is very similar to how most people handle tire maintenance on their vehicles – getting them replaced when the tread is worn instead of waiting until the tire has fully blown.

Phase 3: Predictive Maintenance

Predictive maintenance is another form of advanced planning that can give you the chance to fix minor issues before they become major ones. This form of maintenance relies heavily on the growth of technology that most industries have experienced over the past several decades. With this has come a variety of new ways to predict equipment malfunctions using built-in smart technologies.

Many modern systems and equipment now have features geared toward monitoring their performance. This is generally done by gathering data from sensors and programs on the equipment itself. The data produced from these monitors can give ongoing insight into the status of the machine, indicating early on when breakdowns may be approaching.

Benefits of Predictive Maintenance

Early detection is one of the main benefits of predictive maintenance. Internal sensors and programs are generally able to offer continuous, real-time monitoring of equipment and hardware. These technologies are able to identify issues immediately, often long before employees would realize there was a problem.

By catching issues before they result in a full breakdown, predictive maintenance helps to reduce the overall downtime that can come from major repairs. In the long run, the costs to fix equipment before it fails can be far exceeded by the savings achieved from not having to halt business to complete major projects.

Strategies for Predictive Maintenance

Most predictive technologies are set up to constantly monitor data and outputs from a company’s hardware and systems. The data gathered over time is then compared to average performance statistics for that equipment, raising alarm at even the slightest indication that it is underperforming. Data that falls below the average is often a strong indicator that repairs will soon be needed.

In short, companies with predictive maintenance plans can make repairs whenever productivity first begins to fall. Once the repairs are made, the system is quickly restored to its normal output and business can continue as usual with minimal interruptions.

Phase 4: Risk-Based Maintenance

The final phase of planned maintenance is based entirely on risk assessment. Like predictive maintenance, this phase tries to anticipate possible repairs before they are ever actually needed. In particular, companies who use risk-based maintenance strategies actively consider worst-case scenarios that could arise with their equipment or systems and then create plans for how to react.

Consider all of the times that you have been asked to complete disaster awareness training or have had to participate in a fire drill throughout your lifetime. These types of practices focus on how to protect humans from the worst-case scenarios that could arise but use an incredibly similar approach. The overall goal with both is to have a strategy in place for any disasters that could happen and to make sure that all relevant employees know how to react if they do.

Benefits of Risk-Based Maintenance

Taking the time to create plans for any scenario that could occur takes out a lot of the guesswork and uncertainty that can come from unexpected disasters. It is much harder to be caught unawares if there is a set policy or protocol already in place that employees can fall back on if they need it. Ideally, risk-based maintenance plans also come with extensive training, so that all team members know what to do should an anticipated scenario occur.

Another benefit of risk-based maintenance is that it allows you to consider what are the most likely failures that will occur at any time. This allows companies to focus their maintenance attention on what is most likely to break. This better allocates resources to the areas that need them.

Strategies for Risk-Based Maintenance

In short, risk-based maintenance requires companies to look at potential issues that could arise and create protocols for how to address them. Companies can create lists of priority repairs that need to happen first should a widespread issue occur. In other words, the strategy with this type of maintenance is to always expect the unexpected and have a solution prepared in advance.

No one phase of the four listed here is enough by itself to fully cover the comprehensive maintenance your facility will need. It is your time, money, and success on the line, and you need to partner with a mechanical service provider you can trust. Contact McIntosh Corporation today to discuss their expert strategies for meeting your preventative maintenance needs.