Equipment Maintenance: The Ultimate Guide

Equipment maintenance is crucial for the longevity and reliability of your assets. Learn about the role, strategies, and best practices for maintaining equipment in this guide.

What is Equipment Maintenance?

Equipment maintenance is preserving the operational reliability and functionality of various assets within a business, including mechanical machinery, tools, vehicles, and technological systems. It can be classified into various types: preventive, predictive, and corrective. At its core, it minimizes downtime, optimizes asset performance, and extends the lifespan of valuable business assets.

Maintaining equipment spans across industries. In manufacturing, for example, equipment downtime can lead to production delays and significant financial losses. Other industries include:

  • Food processing
  • Plastics manufacturing
  • Steel mills
  • Restaurants
  • Construction
  • Automobile manufacturing
  • Workshops

What is the Role of Maintenance for Equipment?

Equipment maintenance plays a crucial role in the following areas:

Risk Mitigation

While it may seem like an additional expense, maintaining equipment is crucial to avoid potential risks and hazards. Regular maintenance can identify and address potential issues before they become major problems, reducing the risk of accidents or breakdowns. This not only ensures the safety of employees but also protects a company’s reputation and prevents costly legal fees.

Compliance with Regulations

Many industries are subject to regulations and standards regarding equipment maintenance and safety. By adhering to these regulations through regular maintenance practices, businesses can avoid penalties, fines, or legal issues.

Compliance also enhances the reputation of the business by demonstrating a commitment to safety and quality standards.

Safety Assurance

Well-maintained equipment functions reliably and safely, instilling confidence in both employees and customers. They can rest assured that the equipment poses no imminent threat.

How Often Should Equipment Be Maintained?

The frequency of maintaining equipment depends on various factors. Here are some guidelines to help determine the optimal maintenance frequency:

  • Manufacturer’s recommendations
  • Usage
  • Age
  • Type
  • Previous issues
  • Customer expectations

Create your own equipment maintenance checklist

Build from scratch or choose from our collection of free, ready-to-download, and customizable templates.

Browse equipment maintenance checklists

Maintenance Certifications

After learning about the frequency of maintenance for equipment, who exactly should be the one performing these tasks? A qualified and trained individual must handle maintenance for your equipment. Examples of maintenance certifications include:

Certified Maintenance and Reliability Technician (CMRT) by SMRP

This certification focuses on asset management practices, predictive maintenance, troubleshooting, and corrective maintenance. This certification aims to authenticate the skills and expertise of maintenance professionals across diverse maintenance domains.

Master Certified Electronics Technician (CET) certification by ETA International

This certification is aimed at technicians with several years of experience in electronics. This certification showcases the technician’s proficiency in electronics and demonstrates their expertise in the field.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) HVAC Certification

The EPA HVAC Certification, required by Section 608 of The US Clean Air Act, is essential for technicians who maintain, service, repair, or dispose of refrigerant equipment. This certification ensures that technicians are knowledgeable about environmental regulations and safe handling practices of HVAC systems.

Certified Biomedical Equipment Technician (CBET) Certification

The CBET certification by the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI) is designed for professionals working in the healthcare industry. This certification focuses on the maintenance and repair of medical equipment. This ensures that technicians have the necessary skills to handle complex biomedical equipment.

Furthermore, some industries may have specific regulations or standards that require certain levels of expertise or training for maintaining equipment.

Strategies for Maintaining Equipment

Aside from preventative, predictive, and corrective maintenance, there are other strategies businesses can utilize to maintain their equipment. These include:

Proactive Maintenance

This strategy uses analytics to manage failure and prevent the same failure from occurring again. Proactive maintenance is based on Predictive Maintenance and Condition-Based Maintenance and uses Failure Mode Effect Analysis (FMEA) to predict when an asset might fail.

Routine Maintenance

This strategy or type of maintenance includes cleaning, lubricating, and performing visual inspections while the equipment is in service. These activities are less stressful to budget and schedule and can help prevent equipment failure.

Condition-Based Maintenance

This type of predictive maintenance involves monitoring the equipment’s condition in real time to detect any anomalies or deviations from normal operating conditions. For example, sensors can be placed on a machine to measure temperature, vibration, and other variables that could indicate potential failure.

Time-Based Maintenance 

This strategy involves performing maintenance tasks at predetermined intervals based on the equipment’s age or usage, regardless of its actual condition. In construction, this could mean replacing a piece of equipment every year or after a certain number of hours.

Reliability-Centered Maintenance 

This strategy focuses on determining the most critical equipment and implementing maintenance strategies that are tailored to that equipment. It is a proactive approach that aims to minimize downtime and maximize productivity.

Total Productive Maintenance (TPM)

This strategy involves a collaborative approach between maintenance and production teams to improve equipment performance and reduce downtime. TPM emphasizes on conducting preemptive maintenance, active participation from operators, and continuous improvement.

This strategy involves using advanced techniques and tools to optimize equipment performance and reduce downtime. It includes techniques such as laser alignment, vibration analysis, and thermography. Proper planning and execution of this strategy can lead to longer equipment lifespan and improved reliability.

Design Out Maintenance

This strategy involves improving equipment design and manufacturing processes to reduce the need for maintenance. It aims to create equipment that requires minimal maintenance and reduces downtime due to breakdowns. It also involves implementing predictive maintenance technologies, such as sensors and monitoring systems.

Explore SafetyCulture Monitoring Solution

Utilize advanced sensor technology to monitor assets, automate vital alerts, implement actions, and report urgent issues.

Talk to an expert

Best Practices for Effective Implementation

The best practices for the maintenance of equipment include a combination of strategies and approaches. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

Gather Baseline Information

Start by collecting essential data about your equipment to establish a maintenance baseline. For example, record the age of each piece of equipment, its maintenance history, manufacturer’s recommendations, and any known issues or recurring problems.

Select an Appropriate Maintenance Strategy

Choose a maintenance strategy tailored to your equipment’s criticality, complexity, and business objectives. The strategy you choose will help you define the frequency, scope, and type of maintenance tasks to perform.

Establish Maintenance Schedules

Maintenance schedules refer to the planned intervals at which maintenance activities will occur. This can include regular inspections, cleaning, lubrication, and repair or replacement of parts.

When creating a maintenance schedule, you have to consider the impact of downtime and cost.

Use a Maintenance Checklist

With a maintenance checklist, you can ensure that all necessary tasks are completed during each maintenance session. This also helps to standardize the process and ensure consistency in the quality of work.

Automate the Process with Software

Utilize maintenance management software to streamline workflows, automate task assignments, and provide real-time updates. This can save you time and resources while improving the accuracy and efficiency of your maintenance processes.

Implement Equipment Monitoring Systems

Using equipment monitoring systems helps businesses track real-time performance metrics. Sensors, software, and IoT devices offer insights into equipment health and performance. You can use equipment tracking software by SafetyCulture, which has powerful monitoring capabilities for the equipment’s performance metrics in real time.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Ensuring equipment safety relies on proper maintenance practices. This includes implementing the right strategy for maintenance tasks, conducting regular inspections and servicing, and tracking the performance of equipment through data analysis.

The specific requirements may vary depending on the type of equipment and industry, but some general guidelines include:

  • regular cleaning and inspection;
  • timely repairs or replacements when needed;
  • adhering to the manufacturer’s recommendations; and
  • following safety protocols while handling or operating equipment.

It is also important to keep detailed records of maintenance activities for future reference.

Maintaining equipment strategies can face several challenges, such as:

  • Downtime Impact: maintenance can lead to temporary downtime, affecting productivity and profitability.
  • Cost: Regular maintenance of equipment can be costly, especially for large or specialized equipment.
  • Lack of Resources: Some industries may struggle with limited resources or skilled personnel for proper maintenance.
  • Compliance: Failure to comply with safety regulations and standards can result in legal consequences and risks for workers.
  • Changing Technology: As technology advances, new equipment may require different maintenance strategies or tools that companies need to adapt to.

Yes, it prevents breakdowns, cuts repair costs, and extends equipment lifespan. Maintenance boosts efficiency and competitiveness for small businesses by keeping equipment top-notch. Though it needs an upfront investment, equipment upkeep is vital for small business success and longevity.

SafetyCulture Content Team
Article by
SafetyCulture Content Team
The SafetyCulture content team is dedicated to providing high-quality, easy-to-understand information to help readers understand complex topics and improve workplace safety and quality. Our team of writers have extensive experience at producing articles for different fields such as safety, quality, health, and compliance.