Five Steps to Create a Preventive Maintenance Schedule

A well-defined preventive maintenance schedule is a key element to making your maintenance team more effective. Use these five steps to create a result-oriented preventive maintenance schedule to increase efficiency and save on unwanted overheads in your facility.

Preventive maintenance (PM) is the art of servicing equipment, machinery, and the facility to reduce failure and unplanned downtime. While many facility managers understand the benefits of preventive maintenance, some choose to operate with the “don’t fix it, until it breaks” attitude. However, depending solely upon deferred maintenance leaves your facility at risk of added cost expenditure and loss in productivity. Performing routine preventive maintenance ensures your facility runs all the time efficiently.


A preventive maintenance schedule is a planned list of regular maintenance tasks and inspections performed on all assets, equipment & machinery to keep them in optimum working condition.

Having a preventive maintenance schedule in place requires a maintenance supervisor to balance the facilities and assets’ needs with the available resources. A well-defined maintenance plan will have the following components in place:

  • Detailed instruction sets to guide maintenance technicians while performing maintenance and inspections
  • Defined timelines that pinpoint when a maintenance activity should be completed and how frequently preventive maintenance should be performed
  • Necessary inventory and spare parts on hand in case any repair is required

Why is a preventive maintenance schedule important?

An operation and preventative maintenance schedule provide your team with the structure and guidance it needs to be successful and keep your operations running smoothly. Here are a few of the main benefits:

  • Reduce unscheduled downtime for your equipment
  • Systemize the maintenance performed on your assets
  • Increase efficiency
  • Increase asset lifespan

The different types of preventive maintenance schedules

There are several ways to schedule preventive maintenance for your assets. Depending on the asset or how your team prefers to operate, you may choose a different type of schedule to run on. Let us look at the various options.

  • Time-based schedules: Time-based preventive maintenance schedules are performed after a certain period such as a few days, a week or a month etc. There are two different types of time-based schedules.
  • Fixed preventive maintenance: Fixed preventive maintenance scheduling occurs when you schedule maintenance at a specific time, regardless of when the last task was completed. Even if the last preventive maintenance task was completed early or late, the next task is always set to occur simultaneously.
  • Floating preventive maintenance: Floating preventive maintenance scheduling occurs when you schedule maintenance based on the last time the asset was serviced.
  • Meter-based schedules: With meter-based scheduling, maintenance is triggered after a certain meter threshold is achieved (e.g., number of hours operated or production cycles performed).

How to create a preventive maintenance schedule

There are five main steps involved in creating a preventive maintenance schedule.

1. Take inventory of your assets

When taking inventory, it is important to note that not all of your assets will require routine maintenance. When decidinon a maintenance schedule, consider the below questions first.

  • Is it critical to the success of your organization?
  • Does it have failure modes that are preventable with regular maintenance and inspections?
  • Is it more likely to fail as it ages?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you should add it to your inventory list.

2. Take inventory of your assets

Setting preventive maintenance schedules for dozens to hundreds of assets takes time. It may take months to set service schedules for some of your equipment, so it is important to prioritize your most essential assets first. A systematic approach to prioritizing is calculating each asset’s risk priority number (RPN). Once you have calculated the RPN for each asset, you can put the assets in rank order from highest RPN to lowest RPN.

3. Determine ideal preventive maintenance intervals

As mentioned above, each asset will require different maintenance intervals. Some will work best on a floating time-based schedule, whereas others will work best on a meter-based schedule. One risk associated with preventive maintenance is wasting time and resources by “over-inspecting” assets. This step in the process is crucial to keep your team efficient and effective.

4. Schedule recurring maintenance tasks

The most important part of setting up an effective preventive maintenance schedule is planning recurring tasks and inspections.

5. Monitor and improve your schedule

It’s important to revisit your maintenance schedules regularly. For starters, make sure each asset is receiving maintenance as intended. From there, you can look at the failure frequency since implementing the preventive maintenance schedule. If it’s still failing frequently, you may want to adjust the frequency of maintenance.

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