What is planned preventative maintenance?
All businesses carry out maintenance but what is preventative maintenance and why should we be doing it?
Planned preventative maintenance means working out how frequently equipment should be maintained and scheduling when to do it. The goal of such servicing depends on the nature of your organization, your business strategy and your particular equipment. It may be that you need to have zero system failure, limited downtime, minimal maintenance costs or predictable budgeting with regard to value and timing of expenditure, to name a few goals.
But what’s wrong with just fixing things when they break? Surely that’s the cheapest and simplest solution. For some businesses it can be but for most that leads to an exposure that can’t be afforded.
In July, Sky News reported that all six of the Royal Navy’s destroyers were in dock simultaneously, a situation that was referred to as displaying a “gross lack of planning”.
Depending on whom you ask, the reason for this varies. One unnamed source said this was due to ships having just returned from operations, about to leave for duty or having planned maintenance carried out. However, another unnamed source said it was almost unprecedented that all ships should be in port at the same time pointing to either a lack of planning or it being indicative of something more serious.
Admiral Sir James Burnell-Nugent, former Commander-in-Chief Fleet of the Royal Navy said that it was a “complex business”. He explained that maintenance, software upgrades and sailors’ holidays could all explain the situation. Given that we are not currently at war on a scale that would warrant such destroyers, he didn’t appear perturbed by them all being out of action at the same time.
So what’s the real answer? We’ll probably never find out, but it does throw yout some rather interesting questions.
Did all the ships break down at the same time?
That could mean a consistent problem across the fleet, perhaps due to a software glitch in the most recent update impacting them all. On the other hand, it could just be an unfortunate coincidence. I’d certainly be concerned if my factory had to shut down for a few days to fix all my equipment but not having the means to defend your nation would give me a few more sleepless nights.
Were they all in for planned maintenance at the same time?
It makes sense to carry out maintenance at a quiet time. If you’re going to upgrade a school’s electrical system, the summer holidays would be a good time to choose. Similarly, if your crew are taking breaks with their family during July and August, it’s a sensible time to schedule maintenance. However, whilst we can be reasonably sure there won’t be many keen students trying to get back into school over the that period, we can’t guarantee the political scene will remain quite so stable.
This is all speculation and I’d like to think the Navy does have a plan that they’re just not sharing in the interests of national security. But it does give us a rather stark picture of how maintenance errors could cause problems.
When considering planned preventative maintenance, it’s important to do the following:
• Identify business goals
• Note risks/opportunities in the business, economic and political environment
• Highlight strengths/weaknesses of the internal operations and systems
• Create a suitable maintenance strategy
• Carry out detailed scheduling of maintenance
• Monitor results
• Flex the maintenance plan as needed
Don’t leave maintenance to chance unless you are aware of, and content to manage the consequences!