What is preventive maintenance?

Preventive maintenance (PM) is a traditional approach to maintenance management in process plants. Under a preventive maintenance program, the maintenance team inspects and services the most important items of equipment on a regular basis, according to a fixed schedule.

It’s usually held in contrast to run-to-fail or reactive maintenance, which waits until an item of equipment breaks down or shows visible signs of failure before repairing or replacing it.

Why does preventive maintenance matter to process manufacturing plants?

The ultimate goal for every process manufacturing company is to keep the plant running smoothly at all times, with maximum production capacity and minimum downtime. However, process plants, in particular, place a lot of stress on equipment, which is generally running non-stop.

Preventive maintenance schedules are designed to inspect and service equipment on a regular basis, in order to prevent degradation from wear and tear and spot signs of impending failure. By using preventive maintenance, instead of reactive maintenance, process plants can extend equipment lifecycles, increase worker safety, improve product quality, and reduce plant downtime.

PM has been valuable for process plants for years, but today it’s being overtaken by newer, maintenance models such as predictive maintenance (PdM), which can detect earlier signs of potential part failure and help streamline maintenance schedules for greater efficiency.

Predictive maintenance can also allow maintenance engineers to potentially lengthen the time between certain maintenance or replacement tasks, by monitoring the actual state of the equipment through data collection, rather than simply going according to a timing schedule. This would be based on having confidence that the predictive maintenance solution will alert at the first sign of any issue that needs to be addressed.