Five Indicators of Ineffective Planned Maintenance (And How to Detect Them)

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Using a planned preventative maintenance program is one of the many ways managers have been able to lower costs across a facility while simultaneously increasing the standard of work safety and decreasing the amount of employee downtime. Reactive maintenance, waiting for full equipment failure before scheduling repairs, shows a lack of foresight on behalf of the manager and will end up costing the company significantly more than preplanning and preprogrammed maintenance.

However, while planned maintenance has its benefits, a poorly organized planned maintenance schedule can actually be a hindrance to worker safety and plant productivity. Instituting a preventative maintenance program looks easy on paper, but making sure it’s actually effective once put into practice requires time. Look out for these five signs that a facility’s planned maintenance schedule may not be as effective as it should be.

#1: A Heavy Amount of Unplanned Work

The whole purpose of planned maintenance is to account for work that will inevitably need to be performed so it can be properly scheduled. If the facility is experiencing additional unplanned work on top of the previously scheduled work, it can be a sign that the preventative maintenance isn’t actually preventing anything.

Unplanned work takes a heavy toll on both budgets and schedules and can affect the workers’ confidence in their management when they see significant delays that should have been accounted for in advance. Unplanned work can take operators away from necessary tasks, causing a severe slowdown and backlog that may take time to work through. No preventative maintenance plan will rid a company completely of unplanned work, there is bound to be an occasional issue that requires immediate care, but by tracking the amount of unscheduled work a facility is experiencing it can paint a picture of how effective the maintenance schedule actually is.

#2: Constant Equipment Malfunction

Prescheduled maintenance is designed to be a preemptive strike against malfunctioning equipment, finding the issue before it can make a difference while extending the life of machinery. Equipment manufacturers will have recommended maintenance for each separate piece they design and this guideline, combined with data on equipment history and usage, should be enough to avert any malfunctions.

If equipment still needs to be repaired or replaced outside of the scheduled window, it’s a sign that the facility may require a more aggressive maintenance program or hasn’t taken the plant’s equipment data into consideration. The only way preventative maintenance works is if the program actually prevents equipment malfunction. If the equipment still needs repairs after undergoing regular maintenance then it’s time to conduct an audit to determine which machinery requires more care.

#3: Increased Downtime for Employees

Downtime is a money drainer on the manufacturing process. If employees aren’t working and operators aren’t operating then it affects the workflow, which in turn decreases the amount of product that can be created. One cause of downtime is unplanned maintenance on machinery or a complete malfunction of a piece of equipment. After all, if the equipment they are expected to operate no longer functions, then there’s not going to be much work they can conduct.

Employee downtime also reflects very poorly on the management and will start to have a detrimental impact on worker morale if something isn’t done to remedy it quickly. By including the operators who spend their days on the ground floor working closely with the equipment, managers can use their input to help determine which machinery requires additional maintenance and which pieces of equipment do not require the level of maintenance they are receiving. This will help create a more balanced schedule while keeping the employees involved in the process. Any plant experiencing an unexplained increase in employee downtime may want to take a look at their planned maintenance schedule to see if it is operating at peak efficiency.

#4: Poor Safety Performance

One of the most serious reasons to keep machinery working to its highest potential is the impact it has on worker safety. Accidents will increase when equipment malfunctions and no worker wants to be put in a dangerous situation because their company wanted to save money. Workplace accidents, especially those caused by equipment, is one surefire sign that a better planned maintenance schedule needs to be created. Managers expect to get the best performance out of both their workers and their equipment. An effective planned maintenance schedule is one of the best ways to keep workers safe and equipment functioning.

#5: The Budget Starts Spiraling out of Control

Managers who effectively practice planned maintenance can expect to see a decrease in the amount of money spent on equipment over time, however when the preventative maintenance is not properly scheduled, it can send the budget spiraling out of control. If the costs continue to add up then it may be a sign that the planned maintenance is not as effective as it should be.

Is the company starting to spend just as much on equipment replacements and upgrades as it did when all maintenance was reactive? If so, then that is a sure sign that the planned maintenance schedule needs to be double checked or it’s time to upgrade the plant’s CMMS software to accommodate the scheduling process and take maintenance into account.

Today’s software has evolved significantly from where it was a decade ago and scheduling planned maintenance quickly and effectively is now possible. Having one place where equipment data can be stored and used to preemptively plan for machinery upkeep is an invaluable asset that no manager can afford to pass up.

Creating an effective planned maintenance schedule is not a simple task and thankfully CMMS software has developed to the point where its data can be used to create an effective maintenance schedule based on factory data. Sockeye integrates seamlessly with CMMS software and was created specifically to automate the work order scheduling process. If your company has been experiencing any of these unfortunate side effects of ineffective planned maintenance, it may be time to look into technological alternatives to assist with the process.