Preventive Maintenance: What It Is and Why You Need It
Safety How it works USA

Preventive Maintenance: What It Is and Why You Need It

Abraão Almeida
Abraão Almeida

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Preventive maintenance is a very common expression in the business vocabulary, as maintenance is essential for machinery and equipment to fulfill its functions.

But it is not enough to think about maintenance in general. There are three main types of maintenance and preventive maintenance is one of them.

Maintenance is often thought of as a synonym for “fixing” equipment when it fails. This view is closer to what we call corrective maintenance.

As we will see, preventive maintenance seeks precisely to prevent machines from having to first present operating problems and then undergo maintenance.

As much as your company works with state-of-the-art equipment, over time they will wear out and performance will drop. This is inevitable.

If the company does not have proper maintenance, the equipment will end up stopping, being possible to fix them or not.

In this time when the equipment will be idle until the incident is resolved, productivity and quality of work drop and your company loses time and money.

Basically, the function of preventive maintenance is to avoid this situation.

With a series of procedures, it is possible to assess and correct the problems of the devices in order to prevent them from stopping.

In the next topics, you will learn what preventive maintenance is, what are its advantages and what is the difference between corrective maintenance and predictive maintenance.

What is preventive maintenance?

Preventive maintenance necessarily involves the overhaul, control and monitoring of all machines and equipment in a company.

It is a planned and systematized action, that is, you do not expect the equipment to present problems to trigger maintenance.

As with corrective maintenance, the equipment cannot be operating when the overhaul is performed. So there is an inevitable stop.

However, in corrective maintenance it is not possible to predict when the equipment will need to stop, while in preventive maintenance the downtime is strategically planned so as not to harm production.

Thus, we understand that preventive maintenance seeks to avoid failures, while corrective maintenance needs to correct them at times that are often unexpected.

NBR 5462 defines preventive maintenance as a series of actions put into practice to prevent damage from corrective maintenance and replacements in industrial systems.

The objective is to reduce the probability of failures due to incorrect or intensive equipment operation.

As there are numerous models of machines and equipment, it is clear that the right time to carry out preventive maintenance will be different in each company.

Therefore, it is important for managers to pay attention to productivity and uptime to define the moment when maintenance will be carried out.

Well-executed preventive maintenance helps to define the useful life of the equipment, enabling the planning of replacement periods for worn items.

About preventive maintenance triggers

As we have seen, there is no specific time to carry out preventive maintenance that works equally for any company. Therefore, each of them needs to have maintenance management.

When starting to draw up this preventive maintenance plan, there are four factors that can be used as parameters. They are called triggers.

These triggers can be understood as warnings or alerts to indicate when maintenance should be done.

See below what the triggers are:

  • Time: maintenance must be performed every X months of equipment use;
  • Operating hours: maintenance must be performed every Y hours the equipment is used;
  • Productivity: the performance of preventive maintenance must be put into practice every W pieces produced by the equipment;

Mixed Trigger: Maintenance should be done when one or the other of the above triggers occurs.

Differences between preventive, corrective and predictive maintenance

In addition to dividing the types of maintenance into preventive, predictive and corrective, there is also the classification into planned maintenance and unplanned maintenance.

In this case, preventive and predictive maintenance would be planned while corrective maintenance would be unplanned.

Let's see the differences between them below.

Corrective maintenance

Unlike what happens with preventive maintenance, when corrective maintenance is used, the machine or equipment must fail or stop working for maintenance to be triggered.

Therefore, corrective maintenance is a method of remediation rather than prevention. That is why it is neither periodic nor systematized.

Consequently, it is a longer and more costly type of maintenance.

In any case, it is not possible to completely discard corrective maintenance, because often, during the implementation period of preventive or predictive maintenance, unexpected problems are still detected.

Preventive maintenance

As we already know, the purpose of preventive maintenance is to prevent failures and defects. It also reduces the speed of wear and allows the calculation of the equipment's useful life.

That's why it needs to be programmed and prepared before problems occur. In this sense, planning is a keyword.

Predictive maintenance

Predictive maintenance consists of periodic observation of machinery and equipment, with inspection routines to collect relevant data.

For this, the company must have employees and tools prepared for maintenance actions, such as visual inspection and analysis of noise and vibration.

Predictive maintenance can increase the useful life of equipment, discover in advance the need to replace any component and reduce the need for emergency maintenance.

Advantages of preventive maintenance

If you in your management do not place maintenance as one of the priorities in your business because you consider it an unnecessary cost, you will be making a big mistake. This because:

  1. No equipment is failsafe;
  2. You will spend more when equipment fails;
  3. Employees will be idle while machines are repaired;
  4. And they will need to work double after repairing the equipment, thus reducing the quality of the work provided.

If you're still not convinced, let's close this article with some of the main advantages of preventive maintenance:

Lower costs

The saying went “better safe than sorry”. And besides being better, it's much cheaper.

When the manager does not draw up a preventive maintenance plan and is forced to resort to corrective measures, the costs are not only the amounts spent on repairing the equipment.

Even if this were the only cost, it would already be more expensive than a scheduled maintenance plan.

But, it is also necessary to consider the costs for the company arising from the period in which the equipment is stopped and, consequently, its operators as well.

The delay in operations can cause dissatisfaction and loss of customers, which for the company is an immeasurable loss.


Obviously, machinery or equipment in poor condition can be dangerous not only for the people who operate them, but for the entire company.

There are many accidents that occur in companies due to inadequate equipment functioning.

In these cases, in addition to the high costs to make the equipment work again or to replace it, there are also physical damages that employees may suffer.

Increased useful life of equipment

The time factor is a key issue in the life of any good manager or entrepreneur.

It has been proven that equipment subjected to routine maintenance lasts longer than those that work without any monitoring until failure.

In addition, the time spent on preventive actions is much less than what it takes to repair a machine that has stopped due to defects.

So, the justification for not carrying out preventive maintenance to avoid wasting time with the unnecessary stoppage of equipment is absurd.

Do you prefer to use a machine constantly until it has a defect or stop running at planned times so that its lifespan is increased?

By now you are certainly aware of the importance of preventive maintenance. So, for you to put it into practice, we recommend reading the article on scheduled maintenance. This way you will know how to take the first steps to draw up your maintenance plan. Good reading.

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