ToolSense Glossary

Preventive Maintenance

Preventive Maintenance as the Key to Efficient Production

Preventive Maintenance — or Preventative Maintenance, as it may also be called — is a maintenance strategy with a proactive approach. Compared to reactive strategies, it can save up to ten times in repairs and circumvented downtimes while contributing to a safer work environment. To get a better idea of what Preventive Maintenance is, as well as the advantages and disadvantages it has, it helps to compare it to the other types of maintenance.

Preventive Maintenance

What is Preventive Maintenance in Detail?

In comparison to the other types of maintenance strategies, one of the main points that set the Preventive Maintenance apart is the element of routine: Maintenance tasks are performed following a preset schedule to ensure that equipment won’t break down. As such, this method is especially suited for pieces of equipment that have:

  • Preventable failure modes.
  • Increased risk of failure the longer and more often they are used.
  • Critical role in the company’s operations or the safety and health of workers.


  • Preventive Maintenance is a maintenance strategy with a proactive approach.
  • Preventive Maintenance follows routine: meaning, tasks are performed following a preset schedule.
  • Maintenance checks can be distinguished by three parameters: Mandatory and non-mandatory, Pyramiding and Non-Pyramiding, and Inspection- and Task -Oriented Tasks.

What is an example of Preventive Maintenance?

Which tasks need to be done will depend on the item. For example, equipment might need to be cleaned or lubricated, parts inspected, replaced, or repaired, while other pieces might need to be overhauled. Preventive Maintenance does not only concern machines. Water supplies, electrical systems, as well as lighting, flooring, and even doors need to be regularly checked.

Types of Maintenance

Maintenance strategies can be grouped in four approaches: Reactive Maintenance, Preventive Maintenance, Risk-Based Maintenance, and Condition-Based Maintenance. Each of these groups can be further divided into subtypes.

Reactive Maintenance

With Reactive Maintenance — which may also be referred to as Corrective Maintenance — maintenance is done after a problem occurs. This strategy has a low starting cost. On the downside, originally small problems might spiral into larger issues that are costly to solve. Besides the cost of repairs, downtimes due to machine failure cause further expenses. In the worst case, overtime work might be necessary to meet deadlines or deadlines might be impossible to meet. As such, Reactive Maintenance is only advisable in special circumstances, for example, if the repair costs for equipment are low.

Preventive and Predictive Maintenance

Preventive Maintenance is the other side of the coin: With this approach, maintenance will be done before problems can occur. This can prevent equipment from breaking down. This strategy works best for industries where downtimes need to be reduced as much as possible, such as in medical institutions. While the original cost for implementing Preventive Maintenance is high, it can prevent larger issues and costs in the future, as the name implies.

Based on the strategy of Preventive Maintenance, Predictive Maintenance was developed. While the overall process is the same, the main difference lies in that this approach predicts when maintenance is necessary. This is done based on previously gathered data. The implementation of this strategy is even more costly than implementing a plan for Preventive Maintenance, but the possible savings are higher as well.

Risk-Based Maintenance

Risk-Based Maintenance assesses the risk that would come with each specific piece of equipment being damaged and gives the higher-risk ones priority over lower-risk assets, making them receive more resources. This strategy is especially useful when beginning to plan maintenance strategies or having to work with a low budget as the equipment with the highest risk is easy to determine. It can ensure that the most important equipment will stay functional and safe to use.

Condition-Based Maintenance

Condition-Based Maintenance determines the necessity of an action based on an asset’s condition. Instead of using a maintenance plan, this approach constantly monitors equipment. If unusual signs are noticed, maintenance actions will be taken. Condition-Based Maintenance can often be automated by utilizing monitoring software or sensors on the equipment that give alarm when thresholds are passed or anomalies detected. The monitoring can be done even while equipment is running, causing no loss in productivity. Automated monitoring can also reduce the risk of injuries while inspecting the equipment. On the downside, Condition-Based Maintenance heavily relies on the right monitoring to give feedback, and it can be costly to fit all equipment, so this strategy is often limited to expensive assets.

Types of Preventive Maintenance

The maintenance checks can be separated according to three parameters: Mandatory and non-mandatory tasks, Pyramiding and Non-Pyramiding Tasks, as well as Inspection- and Task -Oriented Tasks.

Mandatory and non-mandatory tasks

A mandatory task is a check that is critical for safety and needs to be done in a timely manner. These checks cannot be cancelled or pushed past their due date. On the other hand, a non-mandatory task may be delayed without causing a critical failure in the equipment or a reduction in its performance.

Pyramiding and Non-Pyramiding Tasks

Sometimes, checks might require more time than available, and overlaps occur. Is a maintenance cancelled because of that, a note is added to the record of the maintenance check that includes the original due date. This is called a pyramiding task. If the original task is not noted down and only the new due date is mentioned, it is referred to as a non-pyramiding task.

Inspection- and Task -Oriented Tasks

A maintenance check is an Inspection-Oriented Task when the results of a previous check result in work orders for the next planned maintenance. On the other hand, there is the option for minor repairs and adjustments to be made while on the first check to reduce the number of work orders. This is referred to as a Task-Oriented Task.

preventive maintenance

Requirements and Types of Preventive Maintenance Plans

The necessary tasks, as well as their due dates, should be noted in a schedule. Manufacturers usually provide recommendations as to how often and in which way a piece of equipment should be maintained. There are also industry standards for each country that can provide guidance.

The amount of time between checks will depend on the equipment and its operation. It should be chosen in a way that ensures that maintenance will take place before the equipment can fail but not too often as the latter will cause unnecessary costs and risks. For the schedule to work, each check has to be recorded in detail. This, together with data on the life expectancy of the equipment, can help with choosing the right intervals. The schedule can be amended after data from previous inspections has been collected.

Setting up a schedule for Preventive Maintenance

When a task should be scheduled it can be determined by the parameters time, usage, or condition.

A schedule based on time uses set amounts of time to determine when the next check is necessary. This might be daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annual. There is also the option to have a check at a specific time, like the first day of the new month.

A schedule can also be based on the usage of equipment. For example, some pieces of equipment might be scheduled depending on the production cycles performed or the time they have been running. This type of schedule is made for equipment that is in daily use.

Condition-Based Preventive Maintenance works similar to the general Condition-Based Maintenance in that it is reliant on a certain condition being met, like reaching a threshold for a temperature. Only if that is the case will a maintenance check take place.

Setting up a schedule can be difficult and requires a lot of time. This process can be simplified by utilizing a Preventive Maintenance software which is able to track tasks, store the requirements and data for the maintenance, as well as plan and coordinate the tasks for all of the company’s assets. For the latter, the software even takes operational needs into consideration so that the work schedule is the least disrupted by the maintenance schedule. Maintenance software also contains work orders, inventories and purchases, as well as the records of previous inspections.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Preventive Maintenance

Some of the advantages and disadvantages of Preventive Maintenance have already been mentioned in passing. When taking a closer look at the strategy, two main disadvantages can be identified: 

Disadvantages of Preventive Maintenance

  • Cost regarding money and time.
  • Organizational difficulties.

The high financial cost of Preventive Maintenance often comes from the usage of Preventive Maintenance Software or the need to hire an expert. This disadvantage is slowly remedied by more affordable options appearing on the market. On the other hand, costs may be incurred by the need for additional staff to take care of the maintenance, as well as needing to replace parts of the equipment more often. In this case, the frequency of maintenance might be too high and should be lowered. The regular inspections also take time. The more assets there are to maintain, the more difficult it will be to integrate the maintenance into the usual workflow. A good Preventive Maintenance Software is able to help with these organizational issues.

Advantages of Preventive Maintenance

Compared to the disadvantages, Planned Preventive Maintenance also offers a row of benefits that are associated with costs and safety. Some advantages are:

  • More reliable and efficient equipment with a longer life-expectancy.
  • It reduced safety risk when handling the equipment.
  • There is lower environmental impact.
  • Lower costs as a result of the higher efficiency.
  • As well as, lower costs as a result of equipment failure.

Is the Preventive Maintenance schedule done well, small problems with the equipment are detected early on and dealt with immediately. As such, safety risks for the worker handling the equipment won’t develop. Regular, sufficiently recorded checks can mitigate liability in case of a lawsuit.

At the same time, each asset can function at the highest level of efficiency as faulty parts will be exchanged before they can impact productivity, making errors in the daily operations less likely. This can make up a difference of up to 20%.

The fact that a piece of equipment in the best condition needs less energy to function impacts the cost and results in a lower environmental impact. Especially if many assets are tied to the company, regular maintenance can make a big impact. With the risk of unexpected failure minimized, downtime is unlikely to occur, which reduces costs for the company further.

Final thoughts about Preventive Maintenance

Preventive Maintenance detects possible failures in a company’s assets early if following a regular schedule according to industry standards. This helps with lowering safety risks and costs associated with machine failure. At the same time, the efficiency of the equipment is increased, allowing for more productivity. Preventive Maintenance also has a positive impact on the environment.


What is preventive maintenance?

Preventive Maintenance is a maintenance strategy in which a company’s assets are pro-actively inspected so that they can be repaired before further damage occurs.

What are the 4 types of maintenance?

The four types of maintenance are Reactive Maintenance, Preventive Maintenance, Risk-Based Maintenance, and Condition-Based Maintenance.

What are the 3 types of Preventive Maintenance?

The three types of Preventive Maintenance are Time-Based, Usage-Based, and Condition-Based.

How can preventive maintenance reduce machine downtime?

Preventive Maintenance addresses issues in equipment early so that smaller malfunctions don’t turn bigger. With a regular preventive maintenance plan, machine downtime is thus unlikely to occur.

Why is preventive maintenance important?

Preventive Maintenance has many benefits for a company, with reduced costs and safety risks, as well as increased productivity and sustainability, being some of the major advantages of this approach.

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Preventive Maintenance