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6 Maintenance Planning Principles for your Preventative Maintenance Program

maintenance planning principles for your preventative maintenance program

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Preventative maintenance (PM) software is critical for the ongoing success of a business that relies on equipment. There are two common types of maintenance strategies used by these types of companies – reactive maintenance and preventative maintenance. Reactive maintenance (also known as “run to failure maintenance”) occurs when the equipment has already broken down. Reactive maintenance (RM) adopts the attitude of “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it”, a strategy that can sometimes save money short term, but often ends up costing more in the long run. The greatest disadvantage of RM is unplanned downtime, which can be a silent killer for any production-based organization.

Preventative maintenance programs aim to prevent all equipment failures before they occur. Maintenance is regularly planned and performed on a piece of equipment while the equipment is still working so that it does not break down unexpectedly. By minimizing unexpected breakdowns, unplanned downtime is avoided and equipment and asset up-time can be maximized.

One of the major benefits of PM is that it can be planned. With a PM program, planning and scheduling become a critical component of the organization. A well planned and scheduled maintenance program increases the amount of “wrench-on” time. Wrench-on time is the amount of time in a day when maintenance technicians are actively doing hands-on maintenance. Idle technicians mean wasted dollars spent on human capital and should be minimized for a successful operation.

Most maintenance staff only perform 2.8 hours of actual maintenance a day. Of the remaining 65% of the time, the breakdown is as follows:

  • 5% goes towards receiving instructions
  • 12% goes towards obtaining tools and materials
  • 15% goes towards travel time to and from the job
  • 8% goes towards coordination delays
  • 5% goes towards idleness at the job site
  • 5% goes towards late starts and early quits
  • 10% goes towards authorized breaks
  • 5% goes towards excess personal time

With effective planning and scheduling, wrench-on time can be increased from 35% to 65% per day. At this level of efficiency, a technician working an 8-hour day will complete 5.2 hours of actual work. With 65% of the engineer’s time is used efficiently, only 35% of their time is wasted.

Successful Preventative Maintenance planning follows these 6 Principles

  1. Have a Separate Department for Planners
    Planners should be organized into a separate department from the craft maintenance crews so that they can specialize just in planning and scheduling. Planners plan the work and the crews execute the planned work.
  2. Focus on Future Work
    Planners should focus on future work and maintain at least two weeks of work backlog that is planned, approved, and ready to schedule/execute. 3-4 weeks is better.
  3. Component Level Files
    Planners maintain a secure file system based on equipment/asset numbers. Best practice is to organize assets on an individual component level and not by manufacturer or vendor. This information allows the planners to utilize equipment data and information learned on previous work to prepare and improve work plans, especially on repetitive tasks.
  4. Estimate the Job Based on Planner Expertise
    Planners are typically senior level technicians who can use their personal experience to develop work plans that will avoid anticipated work delays, quality or safety problems.
  5. Recognize the Skills of the Craft
    Planners must decide which skill set is required for which job and how much management the job requires. Furthermore, they must understand and determine the scope of the work request and the strategy of execution (repair or replace, for example).
  6. Measure Performance with Work Sampling
    It is important to continuously measure the effectiveness of a planning and scheduling program. Measure how much wrench time technicians are actually spending versus how much time they are doing on other activities such as obtaining parts, or waiting for instructions.

Using a mobile inspection system (versus paper and pen) such as Field Eagle will make data capture of your assets quicker and more accurate. With an inspection management software system, inspection data can be synchronized to the planning department where it can be used for maintenance planning. A superior data collection tool combined with effective maintenance planning and scheduling will increase operational efficiency and make your PM program a success.


Inspectioneering Journal Volume 21, Issue 2. Best Practices of Maintenance Planning & Scheduling, Matt Midas

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