Preventive Maintenance Meaning & Definition | EcoOnline
Health & Safety Glossary

Preventive Maintenance

Preventive maintenance involves scheduled tasks to prevent equipment failure and ensure optimal functionality.


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What is Preventive Maintenance (PM)?

Preventive maintenance (PM) is the routine maintenance of different assets, equipment and machinery to ensure smooth operations and reduce any unplanned equipment failures. 

Most companies often follow an established schedule for carrying out preventive maintenance to mitigate the chances of any unplanned downtime that could affect output. 

A well-planned preventive maintenance schedule requires access to real-time data insights, as it allows businesses to identify the performance of different machines and helps them figure out when to conduct maintenance to ensure uninterrupted performance.


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Why is Preventive Maintenance (PM) Important?

Preventive maintenance is necessary as it helps prolong the useful life of the company’s assets, machinery, and equipment. Depending upon the type of machine, the maintenance schedule may involve cleaning, lubrication, repairs, or replacement of certain parts. Preventive maintenance is important for a number of reasons. 

Improves Useful Life and Reliability of Machinery

Conducting regular preventive maintenance helps improve the useful life of machinery and makes them more reliable. Machines that aren’t maintained properly are likely to break down without any warning, and that could disrupt business operations. 

Reduces Errors in Operations

In case a machine begins to malfunction, it’s likely to cause errors in operation, which could affect the output and result in major errors in operations. However, if machines undergo regular maintenance, the chances of errors will reduce significantly. 



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Reduced Costs on Repairs and Downtime

More importantly, preventive maintenance can reduce the costs associated with conducting repairs or the costs incurred due to downtime. In case of an unexpected equipment failure, the company will end up losing potential revenue and will also have to pay employees on the job, while the entire assembly line breaks down.

Reduces Safety Risks

There are serious safety risks to the employees’ health when they are operating machinery that hasn’t undergone proper maintenance. Sudden breakdowns could result in injury, which is why it’s important to carry out preventive maintenance. 


Types of Preventive Maintenance

There are several types of preventive maintenance that you should know about. Here are the most important ones: 

Time-Based Preventive Maintenance

This is arguably the most common preventive maintenance schedule. A time-based schedule for carrying out maintenance requires companies to specify a particular interval for carrying out equipment maintenance. For instance, the company may specify that maintenance must be carried out after every 20 days. 

Usage-Based Preventive Maintenance

In this type of maintenance, the machinery generally requires maintenance when it hits a specific benchmark, usually defined in terms of output or operational hours. Other benchmarks like production cycles might also be used. 

For instance, if a machine reaches 5,000 hours of operations, it should undergo routine maintenance which includes carrying out repairs, lubricating internal components, and cleaning any specific parts. 

Condition-Based Preventive Maintenance

This is another type of preventive maintenance that requires companies to monitor the output of the machinery and carry out maintenance when specific conditions are met. For instance, if there are particular conditions which indicate that the machine no longer performs as well as it should, the company can call the maintenance crew. 

Prescriptive Maintenance

This type of preventive maintenance is usually conducted when an analyst or inspector recommends specific improvements to the machinery. In some cases, the manufacturer may recommend that the company upgrade certain components or carry out maintenance in a specific manner to further improve the machine’s capabilities. 

Predictive Maintenance

Predictive maintenance uses sensors that are connected to a control unit. These sensors relay important information about the machine’s performance. In case the data from the sensors is outside of acceptable parameters, it would trigger a work order, which would automatically notify the maintenance crew. 

This way, the crew can perform maintenance before the machine crashes completely. They can also use the data from the sensors to predict when the machine might break down and prevent that from happening. 

The Many Advantages of Preventive Maintenance

Conducting preventive maintenance offers many advantages. Arguably the biggest benefit is that it allows companies to stay ahead of any breakdowns and issues. However, there are several other key benefits:

  • Preventive maintenance increases the useful life of expensive machinery, allowing companies to maximize their performance without spending extra on maintenance. 
  • It also helps reduce business closure or downtime that might occur as a result of unexpected failures
  • Conducting timely maintenance will also ensure that the equipment runs well during official business hours, thus negating the need for paying overtime to employees. 
  • It also improves overall safety in the workplace, which also mitigates the chances of lawsuits or issues related to paying workers’ comp. 
  • Regular maintenance also reduces utility bills as machines consume significantly less energy as they perform at higher efficiency levels. 


The Downsides of Preventive Maintenance

There are a few downsides to conducting preventive maintenance as well, such as:

  • Many businesses cannot afford to conduct preventive maintenance as it costs a significant amount of money.
  • More importantly, maintenance requires more resources, which an organization just might not have. From working capital to more personnel, most companies simply can’t afford to spend a lot of money. 
  • More importantly, preventive maintenance also takes up time, which is why some businesses might be hesitant to carry out routine maintenance, especially during business hours. 
  • Organizing preventive maintenance is a bit difficult. For small businesses that aren’t using a centralized organizational system, managing preventive maintenance schedules is often difficult. 


How to Develop a Preventive Maintenance Plan

It’s important to develop a comprehensive preventive maintenance plan to ensure regular upkeep of machinery and equipment in the workplace. This involves carefully adjusting the frequency of maintenance and using real-time insights about the performance of different machines. 


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Manage Your Company’s Preventive Maintenance Schedules with EcoOnline

EcoOnline’s Health & Safety Software comes with a range of modules that you can integrate in order to improve business operations. The Asset Register module lets businesses gather important data about key assets and equipment quickly and use that to schedule preventive maintenance.