Maintenance, Preventive Maintenance, Predictive Maintenance

When Preventive Maintenance Is a Waste of Money

By Cara Winther
09 Dec 19

None of us want to think we would willingly or blindly waste our hard earned money or any more of our precious time than absolutely necessary. 

Isn't Preventive Maintenance a good thing? Even a must-do? Sometimes, it definitely is. Sometimes, not so much. How are you supposed to know with certainty? 

When Is Preventive Maintenance Necessary? 

Some Preventive Maintenance makes good sense no matter what.

Think of vaccines or annual flu shots. If you are in a high risk demographic, you're going to get that flu shot every single year come heck or high water.

It's the right thing to do, for you, for the right reasons.

That does not mean it's the right thing for every person, regardless of their circumstances. So, in this example, Preventive Maintenance is not a waste of money for you. 

How about tires and oil changes? This applies not only to your own vehicles, but to equipment as well. Do you change the tires every 50 or 60,000 miles no matter what?


Even on your lawn mower?

You check the tire pressure, watch for wear, have your tires rotated per the manufacturer's recommendation. Seems like you can get closer to 50,000 miles safely with no concerns. Might have to rethink if that mandatory Preventive Maintenance routine isn't a waste of money. 

The same with oil changes. We used to be told every three months or 3,000 miles no matter what. Or else. Remember that time you forgot? Before you knew it, six months and 5,000 miles had passed. Yikes!

Get in there right now!

You change the oil. Heck, it barely looked used. When oil prices skyrocketed a few years ago, suddenly extending those oil changes for longer periods of time and more miles was not a cause for public shaming. 

How about airplane tires? There are strict guidelines about replacing airplane tires. Personally, I want to know all those Preventive Maintenance tasks have been completed.

Pulling into the driveway is different than landing a plane that's just been traveling at 500 mph, after all. I want those puppies to have some traction!

In this case, Preventive Maintenance is not a waste of money.

The people responsible for airplane tire safety err on the side of caution, exceeding the Preventive Maintenance guidelines when signs of wear appear early in the PM cycle. 

Let's have a show of hands: How many of you change the water filter in your refrigerator as often as the owner's manual indicates or as often as that irritating light comes on? If you're like me, you rarely have a replacement filter when 'it's time.' And the water is still refreshing and delicious!

Strict adherence to this Preventive Maintenance routine feels like a waste of money. 

A Surprising Preventive Maintenance Case Study

Here's a real world scenario. Some maintenance friends shared this story with me. There was a type of equipment in their plant that required removing a cable and greasing the end of a high voltage cable every month. 

This scheduled Preventive Maintenance was not the result of any proven defect or failure rate in their shop.

That's what the equipment manufacturer told them was supposed to happen. Every time they removed that cable to grease it, something broke or went wrong. And then the line was down. Way down.

So why did they continue down this path without question? Because the manufacturer told them they had to. Coincidentally, the manufacturer also sold replacement parts. Which was really lucky, because remember, some other component broke almost every single time. 

An uppity Preventive Maintenance Tech—we'll call him Bob, said,—"Why are we removing this cable to grease the end every month?

There are no failures reported by the line, so what are we responding to?" Someone actually listened to that whipper snapper and they decided not to perform the prescribed Preventive Maintenance on one single machine until they had a failure.

A month goes by.

Then another.

Then another.

Wait, what?

Three whole months? 

They decided to expand the scope of their experiment. They stopped performing the monthly cable removal and greasing.

To their amazement, they did not have one single failure for an entire year! And no adverse impact on product quality.

They changed the Preventive Maintenance schedule to 'replace upon failure.' They saved a ton of time, a bunch of money, and loads of downtime on the lines. 

Friendly Replacement Part Manufacture called one day to inquire why they were not buying replacement parts at the same rate as previously. When FRPM heard that they weren't performing the monthly Preventive Maintenance as instructed, he could only wring his hands out of concern. For his bonus. 

It's your shop. It's your equipment. It's your time and it's your money. Make sure your Preventive Maintenance is benefiting you and not just bossing you around. 

Remember: the goal isn’t to perform more Preventive Maintenance, only what’s necessary.

Determining what's necessary is really easy with a software like L2L's CloudDISPATCH, which tracks events in real time. Take control of your own Preventive Maintenance destiny! Call to schedule a demo and start charting your future today!

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