Maintenance Management: Definition, Types, And Tips

maintenance management

For companies whose work depends on physical assets such as manufacturing machines, heavy equipment, vehicles, and even tablets and computers, maintenance management is essential for success.

In this article, we discuss how maintenance management techniques and software can help improve the way your business works.

Maintenance Management Defined

Maintenance management is the process of maintaining and preserving your company’s physical assets and resources with the goal of improving asset availability and reliability, maximizing the efficacy of core services, and controlling and reducing costs.

Businesses reach those goals by concentrating their efforts on six key objectives:

  • Planning the maintenance activities
  • Minimizing equipment failure
  • Avoiding production downtime
  • Controlling maintenance costs
  • Ensuring regulatory compliance
  • Creating a safe and productive work environment

If a business ignores maintenance management in the short term, it can experience a long-term ripple effect in the form of repeated safety risks, lost production hours, and higher energy costs — all of which can negatively affect their profits and their bottom line.

Types Of Maintenance Management

Man doing maintenance management

Maintenance management typically falls into one of two distinct categories:

  • Reactive
  • Proactive

Reactive maintenance is the older of the two, having dominated since the beginning of the Second Industrial Revolution (the Technological Revolution) in the early 20th century. The premise of this type of maintenance was simple: run the equipment until it breaks and then fix it.

Businesses, however, quickly realized that this “no maintenance” approach wasn’t sustainable over the long run because equipment downtime tended to cause problems in other parts of the workflow (such as supply chain backups and quality control issues).

As a result, maintenance management strategies evolved through various forms into the second option mentioned above: proactive.

Proactive strategies involve regularly inspecting and maintaining important assets — rather than waiting for them to break down — in order to preserve their usefulness and efficacy.

That said, proactive maintenance is not a one-size-fits-all process. It’s made up of various sub-strategies that range from relatively cheap and simple to more advanced and complex.

We discuss those proactive options below.

1) Preventative Maintenance

Preventative Maintenance (or PM for short) is the most basic strategy, and, therefore, also the cheapest and easiest to implement.

With PM, businesses schedule maintenance work at regular intervals throughout the year or when the asset reaches a certain number of hours or miles.

2) Condition-Based Maintenance

The next step up from Preventative Maintenance is Condition-Based Maintenance (CBM).

CBM is a methodology where teams monitor the status of the equipment and perform necessary upkeep when certain conditions arise.

For example, on a given machine, a certain joint may wear out faster than other parts. Periodic monitoring reveals when said joint is starting to experience issues and when it is time to perform repairs on that part so the impending joint failure doesn’t affect other parts of the equipment.

3) Predictive Maintenance

The third step up the cost and complexity scale of maintenance management is Predictive Maintenance (PdM).

PdM uses a combination of condition-monitoring sensors and machine learning to predict when a machine is likely to fail.

PdM works as an early warning system that provides maintenance personnel with notifications of impending issues and plenty of time to plan and schedule repairs or service before the equipment fails.

4) Prescriptive Maintenance

The most expensive and complex maintenance management strategy is Prescriptive Maintenance.

Prescriptive Maintenance is an advanced form of Predictive Maintenance that uses sensors and analytics to perform self-diagnosis and provide technicians with potential solutions for whatever issue the asset is experiencing.

Tips For Effective Maintenance Management

Employees working at a car parts shop

1) Divide And Conquer

No single maintenance management methodology will cover every business, or every asset within a business. The best strategy is to divide and conquer as necessary.

For example, a company may use preventative maintenance for secondary and tertiary assets, but use the more advanced predictive maintenance for critical primary assets.

Or, if capital is an issue, a company may choose to use a mix of preventative and reactive maintenance to cover its equipment.

The most important thing is to ensure that all the equipment gets the right amount of attention to prevent breakdowns and production holdups.

2) Hire Qualified Employees

Hiring qualified employees to handle your maintenance management is like investing for the future. When it comes to building the best team for the job, focus on hiring individuals who are more likely to stick with your business for the long term.

Yes, hiring highly skilled employees is important, but if those employees are volatile — meaning they’re here one day and gone the next — they can cause more problems than good.

Find a balance between experience and willingness to work, and then train those long-term employees to move your business forward.

3) Build A Proactive Company Culture

As you train your teams for successful maintenance management, promote and build a proactive company culture to supplement the maintenance crew.

In a proactive company culture, equipment operators serve as the first line of defense against breakdowns and asset failure. Train them to watch out for irregularities in the tools they use and to inform their supervisors (or necessary personnel) so repairs come sooner rather than later.

That’s what being proactive is all about: creating or controlling a situation by causing something to happen rather than responding to it after it has happened.

4) Standardize The Work

Many of the types of maintenance management we discussed earlier in the article require a set schedule of monitoring and repairs to be successful. And that’s really for the best.

The more you can standardize the work, the better off your business will be.

How does standardization manifest in most companies? As operations manuals, as standard operating procedures, and as checklists that your team can follow.

These tools ensure that, no matter who is performing a specific task, it will always be done the same way and with the same level of accuracy and attention to detail.

5) Provide The Right Tools

It’s one thing to have a maintenance system in place. It’s an entirely different thing to have the right tools to put that system into practice successfully.

To ensure that all your equipment, vehicles, and other critical assets remain in good repair, provide your teams with access to hardware that makes monitoring and fixing your infrastructure as easy as possible.

For example, asking your employee to drive a 12-inch-long screw with a screwdriver is a waste of time and energy. Instead, supply them with a battery-powered driver so they can finish the work in a fraction of the time and move on to the next task.

6) Track KPIs And Metrics

Another essential practice for successful maintenance management is setting and tracking key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics that give you insight into the condition of your equipment.

One of the most basic examples of a KPI to monitor is the hours of activity a certain asset is subjected to. Monitoring that metric as part of a preventative maintenance program tells you when certain repairs are necessary to prevent a breakdown or a drop in productivity.

The Best Tool For Maintenance Management

Inch app for maintenance management

If you’re looking for the best way to perfect your maintenance management, Inch is the app for you.

What is Inch? It’s a suite of voice-operated task-management, time-tracking, communication, and scheduling tools all rolled into one. It’s also available for smartphone, tablet, laptop, and desktop computers.

The software incorporates task management and time tracking in one powerful solution and is designed to make it easier for managers and employees to get aligned on their to-dos, ensuring that all tasks get completed on time.

Inch also simplifies communication. Employees can perform a wide variety of tasks from their tablet or phone, including:

  • Working from a shared task list
  • Getting clarity on work that needs to get done
  • Receiving voice-assisted reminder notifications
  • Clocking in and out of tasks at different locations
  • Completing work assigned to them
  • Communicating with managers and each other

All of that and more without having to touch a mobile screen or report back to the office.

For managers, Inch makes it easy to distribute tasks manually across their teams or populate tasks automatically based on preset conditions.

This unique feature ensures that all work is covered and keeps employees accountable and clear on their specific responsibilities, expected outcomes, and deadlines.

Managers can also assign work to the employees that are closest to the jobsite or have tasks generate automatically as the need arises. And they can follow work progress and task completion in real time.

Inch helps eliminate frustration for employees, headaches for managers, and inefficiencies for the business.

Whether you need help setting up when each team member will work during the week or what tasks they will perform, Inch gives you unprecedented control over an inherently complicated process and makes it easier than ever to streamline the maintenance management side of your business.

For more free resources to help you manage your business better, organize and schedule your team, and track and calculate labor costs, visit today.

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