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8 Steps to a Preventative Maintenance Program


Initiatives that boost the bottom line typically earn a place in the budget. If you’re a facilities manager looking to make a case for a preventative maintenance (PM) program, lay out the potential payoff for decision makers:

  • Longer lifecycles for boilers, roofs, and other property, as well as lower lifecycle costs (by 12-18%, according to the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy)
  • Fewer reactive repairs, which are the most expensive
  • Less downtime and learning disruption associated with leaking roofs, malfunctioning HVAC systems, and other damage

Preventative maintenance doesn't just keep your operations running smoothly. It’s also an important duty of Fund membership. In fact, your claims might not be covered if you don’t regularly inspect your roofs and perform other preventative maintenance tasks. See your Fund Property coverage agreement for details.

How to Launch a Preventative Maintenance Program

If you want to reap the benefits of preventative maintenance, follow these eight steps.

1. Set Realistic Expectations

If you communicate the “why” of PM programs, you’ll have a captive audience in your district’s finance professionals. Make sure they understand that PM is a long game. It won’t pay for itself next month or even next school year, but the wait will be worthwhile.

For example, roofs are among your organization’s costliest assets. What if you have to prematurely replace one because you didn’t inspect it regularly? For a small investment, you could avoid a big unbudgeted expense.

2. Commit to Measurable Goals

Start by meeting with leadership from maintenance, administration, and other stakeholders. Together, set measurable, time-sensitive goals for your PM program. For example, you might want to reduce reactive repairs by 50 percent within one year or eliminate unplanned elevator outages within six months.

3. Take Inventory

Your PM program will only be as good as the data it’s based on. For each asset, capture the type, manufacturer, model, serial number, location, age, condition, area of the facility it serves, and the responsible department, team, or employee.

When your inventory is complete, prioritize the equipment based on its importance to daily operations. If historical maintenance and repair information is available, note it in the inventory. If not, now is the time to start creating a comprehensive history of each asset.

4. Analyze and Prioritize

In step four, you will analyze your inventory, noting the age, condition, and significance of each asset and prioritizing it for preventative maintenance. Assets that are near the end of their lifecycle are probably not good PM candidates.

5. Plan and Schedule Preventative Maintenance

The priorities you set in step four will pay off in step five, when you plan and schedule preventative maintenance tasks. Starting with your highest-priority assets, identify short – and long-term maintenance activities, and set them up on a PM schedule.

As you identify PM tasks, consult manufacturer recommendations, warranties, and employees who are familiar with the asset. For each scheduled task:  

  • List the work that needs to be completed.
  • Outline the procedures in detail.
  • Include necessary parts or tools.

6. Delegate and Train

A lot of detailed work goes into developing and implementing a PM program. The good news is that you don’t have to do it alone. In step six, you’ll identify motivated, dependable employees to take ownership of the program.

If you communicate your goals and train employees thoroughly, they can confidently execute the program. Many equipment manufacturers, contractors, and vendors offer preventative maintenance training. You could even consider making it part of the bidding process.

7. Celebrate and Communicate

When you invest in a PM program, you’re doing more than extending the lifecycle of roofs, machinery, tools, and equipment. You’re serving as a good steward of public funds, and your stakeholders deserve to know! In step seven, you’ll celebrate and communicate your success.

Quarterly reports to administration, annual reports to the school board, and employee newsletter articles are just a few forums for telling your story. With each success, you build a foundation of trust that will serve you well when you request funds for replacing equipment.

8. Evaluate and Adjust

As you work through steps one through seven, stay patient and allow time to adjust your PM program to meet your organization’s unique needs. Reviewing data in your computerized maintenance management system is one way to evaluate your efforts. But remember that conversations can be as valuable as data. Ask your technicians and building occupants for their perspective and encourage them to share improvement opportunities with you.

Parting Preventative Maintenance Tip for Leadership

Preventative maintenance is an investment in school facilities, tools, equipment, vehicles, and other property. If you commit, you could see the payoff in longer lifecycles, lower repair costs, and increased productivity—but it won’t happen overnight. Give your maintenance staff the resources they need to get the program off the ground. Then, stay patient and trust that you’ll see a return on investment as the program matures.

David Wylie
David Wylie
Content Developer

David Wylie serves as content developer on the risk solutions team. He brings more than 20 years' experience writing educational content that helps employers protect against workplace accidents, property damage, cybercrime, and other losses.

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