Preventive Maintenance

Preventive Maintenance Checklists (Template Included!)

By Cara Winther
30 Mar 20

Check. Check. One, two, three. Check. Checklist! Houston, we have a Checklist! Make that a Preventive Maintenance Checklist. Well, not yet, but we will have one shortly. 

My checklists come in many forms. Here's a checklist I used every single day for longer than I'm going to own up to in print. When I worked in manufacturing, I didn't leisurely tune into morning news programs or take the time to look on Facebook to see what everyone had for dinner the night before. I realize this is somewhat shocking. How did I get through the day? 

In the interest of full disclosure, I feel obligated to tell you that when I started working in manufacturing, there was no Facebook (which didn't exist until 2004). Go ahead and finish resuscitating the millennial next to you who was reading over your shoulder. Mouth to mouth is a great way to start the day. While I didn't mean to be so specific about just how long ago my career in manufacturing began, here's another hint: I did not even have a cell phone, let alone a smart phone. But, I digress. 

My manufacturing life involved off-shift work and some pretty long hours. Each day, or night, when I was about to leave the house to go in to work, I ran through my mental checklist: Name badge? Check. Keys for my locker? Check. Vending machine money? Check. Steel toed shoes? Yep, there they are on my feet. Check. I always ran through the list in exactly the same order. That helped me feel confident I wouldn't forget anything. And it worked great! 

The thing that makes mental checklists so handy is also the same thing that makes them so unreliable. Yes, I said they worked great. I also told you that I was much younger, meaning I wasn't juggling as many things in my head at any given moment.

You've done a lot of the heavy lifting already: The thinking part. Let's go ahead and put those goodies in a Checklist! 

Creating a Preventive Maintenance Checklist

What should your Preventive Maintenance Checklist look like? And why is a Preventive Maintenance Checklist necessary? Refer back to what I said before. Now, where was I? Oh, yes. That's right. We were talking about how it's hard to keep track of everything if it's all up here (now is when you point to your head).

Having a good Preventive Maintenance Checklist is a critical element of a smooth running Preventive Maintenance program. It's also pretty darn handy if you don't want to personally oversee every single task that will be performed by your Maintenance Techs and Production Associates. 

You won't get the perfect Preventive Maintenance Checklist on your first attempt. Probably not even on your second or third. And that's okay. Neither Rome nor Houston was built in a day. Let's get started. Pull some of those golden nuggets out of that vault we call our noggins.

Think about the area or technology you want to tackle first. Are you responsible for the interior or exterior of your facility? Does your team take care of electrical, mechanical, HVAC, landscaping, vehicles, cleaning, plumbing? All of the above? 

Let's start with the area that is the most painful. What causes you sleepless nights? What interrupts your planned activities the most often? What do you dread hearing the most when you answer your phone? There's your answer. No groaning now. This is likely your least favorite, so let's get 'er done and put it behind us. 

You have a group of problem machines.

The Big Berthas, sometimes referred to as the Berthmuda Triangle. It seems like at least one of the Girls is always down.

Looking back through the call history for Bertha, you see some patterns emerging. The E-Stop is constantly, well, stopping. All by itself. Here's the first item on the Big Bertha Preventive Maintenance Checklist: When it's time for Bertha's PM, when the line is not running, and she's idle. Lock her out. Then perform the following checks in the same order on a scheduled, recurring basis. 

Big Bertha Emergency Stop Preventive Maintenance Checklist

  • Press the E-Stop button
    • Verify the inoperative state 
    • Note the condition of the E-Stop button
      • Is any damage indicated? 
        • Damage of any kind requires replacement 
        • Do NOT attempt to repair 
      • Did the plunger engage smoothly? 
    • Did Bertha stop in a controlled manner? 
    • Was power immediately discontinued? 
  • Press the Air Dump valve 
    • Verify the inoperative state 
    • Verify the recovery when re-engaged
  • Inspect and verify the condition of surrounding linear conveyor 
  • Inspect and verify the condition of the adjacent vibrating feeder bowl 

You get the idea. Again, this might be the starting version of the Big Bertha Preventive Maintenance Checklist. As you and your team continue to perform the tasks on this checklist, you'll undoubtedly add more items. Maybe even remove a few at some point. There's nothing wrong with jotting something down and coming back to it later.

Each iteration of the BB Preventive Maintenance Checklist will have its own revision number, so you know the tasks you've added or modified. 

After each item on the checklist is a place to indicate a Yes / No response, enter a value, include a comment, record a measurement, check a box. There's a place for your name, the date, and the time.

Your Preventive Maintenance Checklist Should Be in the Cloud

You could use an actual piece of paper for your Preventive Maintenance Checklist. But you'd much rather have everything available electronically. No worries about dropping a pencil where FOD is a safety hazard (Foreign Object Debris). No concerns about the dog eating the completed checklist, or a similarly convenient excuse.

Complete accessibility and immediate retrieval when you need to demonstrate that every i has been dotted and every t has been crossed. Complete transparency so your team always know where they are in this process. 

Bring your Preventive Maintenance Checklists into the 21st Century. Attach any supporting documentation or reference materials so your folks can stay focused on the task at hand. They won't have to search to find a manual somewhere. Your Maintenance Techs have their phones, their really smart phones, with them at all times.

If they see a condition that's hard to describe, have them snap a photo and attach it electronically to the Preventive Maintenance Checklist. A photo is worth a thousand words. Just think how many words that attached video is worth! 

The beauty of a really great Preventive Maintenance Checklist is that you check items off the list as they are completed! Nothing is overlooked and no task is repeated unnecessarily. Don't underestimate the value someone gets from seeing what they've accomplished as they check them off the list. Yay! Get it? Task Completed? Check. List. Done. 

Preventive Maintenance Checklists will be different and somewhat unique for each of your machines, buildings, and vehicles. Some basic tasks will probably apply across the board:

  • checking the surrounding area for obstacles;
  • looking for potential safety issues;
  • cleaning the physical object itself; and
  • removal of debris.

Keep this up every week for six weeks. Then six months. Compare the number of calls you get to come out and un-E-Stop Big Bertha now versus the number of calls before you started using checklists as part of your overall Preventive Maintenance program. Look at the decrease in downtime and interruptions to production. Share your success with your teams and the folks you support. 

Heck, take some pictures and share them on Facebook! 

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