Photo courtesy of Eaton
For preventive maintenance to be as effective as possible, the five dimensions, or five points of view, of PM need to be integrated into the system.

Effective PM Is Five Dimensional

July 12, 2017
A different way to view vehicle maintenance.

Many times, PM (preventive maintenance) is not as effective as we want. The reason being: we take a too-limited view of the reasons for, and the execution of, PM tasks.

What’s more, we assume our team has the competence, spare parts and tools to be successful.

Beyond the elements of a successful maintenance job, there are five dimensions or five points of view. Are you managing all five of them?

1. Statutory – This is the first dimension/point. For fleets, the first driver for maintenance is the law. Vehicle inspections are supposed to ensure minimal safety standards are followed.

In Pennsylvania, for example, the items on the vehicle inspection lists were actually written into the law. 

Traditionally, fleets in Pennsylvania have used the law – or more properly the threat of the law – as leverage to have recalcitrant vehicle owners bring their vehicles into the shop. (There is nothing like a ticket to help some people see the light.) At that time, any pending corrective work can also be completed.

2. Engineering – In specialized, custom and large equipment, the PM is treated as an engineering issue. What tasks will have the greatest impact? The tasks have to be the right tasks, being done with the right techniques, at the right frequency.

Many PM systems have elaborate PM tasking but breakdowns occur anyway. This could be because the wrong things are being looked at, in the wrong frequency.

It could also be that the failure was random and difficult to anticipate, such as a rock flinging up and breaking the windshield.

In other words, the tasks have to detect or correct critical wear that is occurring. Analysis of failure statistics, uptime and repair is included in the engineering dimension of PM.

3. Economic – We do not want to spend $1,000 to solve a $500 problem. The tasks must be ‘worth’ doing.

One measure of this is to determine if doing the tasks furthers the business goals of the organization. Is the value of the failure greater than the cost of the tasks? Spending $1,000 to maintain an asset worth $500 is usually a waste of resources unless there is a downtime, environmental or safety issue. This is the critical economic question.

The RCM (reliability centered maintenance) approach includes in the “worth doing” equation tasks where failures could result in environmental catastrophe or loss of life or limb. In any case, the economic dimension is the critical one when deciding to go with PM or not.

4. People-Psychological – The people doing the PM have to be motivated to the extent that they actually do the designated tasks properly. Without motivation and buy-in, PM rapidly becomes mind numbing.

They also need to attend to the level of detail generated by a PM system. Furthermore, the actual PM workers have to be properly trained to know what they are looking at and why. 

5. Management – PM has to be built into the systems and procedures that control the business. The business systems need to cause good PM to take place.

The System

W.E. Deming, the quality guru, said that quality was in the system of production, not in the individual effort. A “tacked-on”’ PM system is rarely effective for the long haul.

Information collected from PM has to be integrated into the flow of business information.  PM data, such as PM compliance, has to be reported to the director of operations so that there is a structure outside maintenance causing accountability.

The thought question for you: Have you neglected any of the five PM dimensions?

Joel Levitt is director of projects for’s Reliability Leadership Institute. provides the latest reliability and uptime maintenance news and educational information to help make asset managers, reliability leaders and maintenance professionals safer and more successful. The Reliability Leadership Institute is a community of practice to improve how organizations deliver asset performance through the use of Uptime Elements, a reliability framework.     

About the Author

Joel Levitt | President, Springfield Resources

Joel Levitt has trained more than 17,000 maintenance leaders from more than 3,000 organizations in 24 countries. He is the president of Springfield Resources, a management consulting firm that services a variety of clients on a wide range of maintenance issues He is also the designer of Laser-Focused Training, a flexible training program that provides specific targeted training on your schedule, online to one to 250 people in maintenance management, asset management and reliability.  

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