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Published: 17 December 2023
Contributors: Alice Gomstyn, Alexandra Jonker

What is planned maintenance?

Planned maintenance is the identification and delineation of maintenance tasks and resources, such as tools and spare parts, necessary for the upkeep, repair or replacement of an asset.

As its name indicates, planned maintenance entails making preparations for maintenance activities ahead of time as part of an organization’s asset management program. This stands in contrast to unplanned maintenance, during which a maintenance team or individual must address an issue without the benefit of advanced planning.

The benefits of planned maintenance for organizations include minimizing unplanned downtime and costs caused by unexpected equipment failures, extending the lifespan of an asset and improving workplace safety.

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Why planned maintenance matters

If every piece of equipment, machinery or manufacturing facility operated in optimal condition all the time, maintenance would be unnecessary. But in the real world, of course, even the most well-crafted product is subject to wear and tear, requiring conditioning, replacement parts and repairs to remain in service.

During the first Industrial Revolution in the 1700s, the dominant form of maintenance was “breakdown maintenance”—also known as corrective maintenance or reactive maintenance—in which repairs took place only after a machine broke down. Since machines of this era were relatively simple and didn’t require repairs by specialists, this was “the easiest and natural way of maintenance” then, according to one report by industrial engineering experts.1

But as machines became more complex during the second Industrial Revolution, which began in the late 1800s, breakdown maintenance gave way to planned maintenance in some corners of the industrial world. In a 1919 manual from the Ford Motor Company, readers were instructed to “[m]ake a practice of taking care of every repair or adjustment as soon as its necessity is discovered” because “[t]his attention requires but little time and may avoid delay or possible accident down the road.”1

Today, when organizations don’t engage in planned maintenance—that is, they don’t anticipate and proactively address asset degradation or malfunctions to keep equipment and plants in good working order—serious consequences might follow. They might be forced to conduct unplanned maintenance, which can be more stressful, labor-intensive and costly than planned maintenance. For instance, maintenance teams might rush to acquire necessary parts, paying more for them than they might otherwise to avoid long lead times. Meanwhile, the unplanned downtime associated with unplanned or unscheduled maintenance might further hurt a company’s bottom line due to losses in productivity and revenue: a survey of 100 large enterprises by Forrester and IBM(PDF) found that unplanned downtime costs 35% more per minute than planned downtime.

A company's lack of a planned maintenance program might also impact workplace safety. Equipment failure has been cited thousands of times in workplace accident reports compiled by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration. Planned maintenance can prevent equipment failures that cause workplace accidents and injure employees.

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What are the different types of planned maintenance strategies?

Planned maintenance encompasses multiple maintenance strategies. Types of planned maintenance include:

Preventive maintenance

Preventive maintenance focuses on performing tasks to prevent equipment breakdowns and maximize uptime. Such maintenance work may be performed on a maintenance schedule and include regular maintenance tasks such as cleaning equipment, conducting oil changes or lubricating equipment, and installing replacement parts.

Predictive maintenance

Predictive maintenance, often considered a type of preventive maintenance, centers on condition-based monitoring. Through predictive maintenance, companies can detect issues in real time by collecting data from sensors and applying advanced analytical tools and processes. This proactive maintenance approach enables organizations to address issues in a timely fashion to avoid more costly problems, such as prolonged equipment downtime, while extending the life cycle of the asset.

Reliability centered maintenance

Reliability centered maintenance is a highly customized maintenance process with the goal of maximizing equipment uptime while reducing the need to replace assets, thereby reducing maintenance costs. It treats every asset differently depending on its specific maintenance needs and requirements to maintain optimal condition. It emphasizes the prioritization of the most critical assets.

Run-to-failure maintenance

Run-to-failure maintenance is the purposeful operation of a piece of equipment until the end of the asset lifespan. It’s sometimes considered a type of reactive maintenance, but where some reactive maintenance approaches are not part of routine maintenance programs, run-to-failure maintenance can be part of a planning process. A facility manager, for instance, can intentionally forgo preventive maintenance for the asset because it’s less expensive to replace the asset at the time of failure. In such a case, the facility manager’s planning for run-to-failure maintenance can include ensuring that the replacement asset is available ahead of time and that the process for installing it is documented and understood by the maintenance team.

Technological solutions for planned maintenance management

Maintenance software plays an important role in successful planned maintenance systems. The origins of computerized maintenance management systems, or CMMS, date back to the 1960s, when technicians used punch cards and IBM mainframes to track maintenance tasks. In the 1970s, punch cards were replaced by maintenance checklists fed into CMMS.

Eventually, CMMS technology evolved to take advantage of web-based connectivity and its capabilities were extended to mobile devices. Today, CMMS are cloud based, offering faster functionality in areas such as providing workflow visibility, efficiently managing maintenance team deployments to achieve cost savings and analyzing safety concerns and incidents to inform safety precautions.

In addition to CMMS, asset-intensive organizations also turn to asset performance management (APM) solutions. These solutions use remote monitoring and artificial intelligence-powered analytics to provide asset management insights and enable predictive maintenance to lengthen asset life cycles.

Solutions such as CMMS and APM can help organizations achieve key performance indicators and ultimately improve profitability.

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What is preventive maintenance?

Preventive maintenance is the act of performing regularly scheduled maintenance activities to help prevent unexpected failures in the future.

What is predictive maintenance?

Predictive maintenance helps predict the future potential state of equipment to determine when maintenance operations should be performed.

What is maintenance strategy?

Maintenance strategy is a comprehensive blueprint for how companies minimize downtime, keep maintenance costs at bay and ensure their factories work at or near capacity.

Take the next step

Unlock the full potential of your enterprise assets with IBM Maximo Application Suite by unifying maintenance, inspection and reliability systems into one platform. It’s an integrated cloud-based solution that harnesses the power of AI, IoT and advanced analytics to maximize asset performance, extend asset lifecycles, minimize operational costs and reduce downtime.

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"Historical Overview of Maintenance Management Strategies: Development from Breakdown Maintenance to Predictive Maintenance in Accordance with Four Industrial Revolutions.” (Link resides outside ibm.com). Proceedings of the International Conference on Industrial Engineering and Operations Management Pilsen, Czech Republic, July 23-26, 2019.

²Accident Search Results. (Link resides outside ibm.com). Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Dec. 8, 2023.