MRO Magazine

Step-by-step guide to build a successful precision maintenance program

Precision maintenance as a philosophy is a vital ingredient that guarantees consistent maintenance work.

July 11, 2022 | By Bryan Christiansen

Photo: © Chatchawal / Adobe Stock

Photo: © Chatchawal / Adobe Stock

Precision maintenance is a strategy that aims to maintain the quality of work and streamline routine activities. Any maintenance technician can respond to emergency or routine maintenance tasks and deliver high-quality work. Building a successful precision maintenance program takes time as the company needs to perfect work order management and inculcate a culture of best practices, adherence to the established maintenance procedures, and continuous improvement.

Standard operating procedures (SOPs) are at the heart of precision maintenance programs. The company chooses a maintenance specialty that they need to perfect and develop relevant procedures to achieve its maintenance goals. Precision maintenance has several benefits, they include:

-Enhanced asset reliability;
-Extended equipment life;
-Lower operations and maintenance cost;
-Better safety standards;
-Improved productivity; and
-Motivated and highly skilled maintenance personnel.

The company must fulfill specific requirements to build a successful precision maintenance program. It calls for a dedicated mindset among employees, adopting proactive maintenance at all levels of the organization. The company then trains its employees, develops detailed workflows and procedures, invests in relevant work tools, and perfects the documentation of maintenance work.


Building a precision maintenance program
The choice to establish a precision maintenance program is an indication that the company is focused on optimizing asset productivity, streamlining maintenance work, and eliminating waste. Precision maintenance focuses on a cultural shift instead of maintenance planning. What steps can companies follow to build successful precision maintenance programs?

Conduct skill assessment and train maintenance personnel
The first step is to equip the entire maintenance team with the requisite skills. As the company shifts to precision maintenance, it should ensure standard quality irrespective of existing maintenance workloads. Therefore, everyone in the team needs to understand how to fix equipment defects.

The company needs to conduct a skill audit and identify skill gaps. Identify the challenges employees face when performing maintenance work due to a lack of particular skills. Evaluate whether the technicians are confident to work both in teams and individually. The company can also conduct a survey to assess the willingness of employees to follow standard work procedures.

Once the company identifies work challenges and existing skill gaps, it develops relevant training programs. Training enhances the technical capabilities of employees. It helps them internalize new regulations and adjust to changes in maintenance schedules.

Audit facility to identify high-maintenance equipment
Production assets have different maintenance requirements. Some demand regular maintenance that takes a short time to complete. Others have lengthier schedules but with huge workloads and utilize hard-to-find spare parts. The company needs to balance maintenance schedules to avoid downtime among critical production assets.
When beginning a precision maintenance program, companies must conduct an audit to categorize and prioritize every piece of equipment in the facility. They need to identify expensive and critical assets. Additionally, they must rank assets based on their failure frequency and intensity of maintenance work (planned and unplanned).
By identifying high-maintenance equipment, the company can pinpoint a maintenance area that requires perfection. It can also begin scheduling for maintenance by prioritizing critical assets and those with the potential for a higher return on investment. Data from these audits offers insights into workforce requirements and work
order management.

Develop standard operating procedures and detailed maintenance workflows
At this stage, the company has a clear picture of the maintenance goals it expects to achieve. Every team member is equipped with the relevant technical skills, and the maintenance requirements for each piece of equipment are defined. The company drafts its standard operating procedures and detailed maintenance workflows. The idea is to provide a step-by-step guide that technicians can follow to conduct high-quality maintenance work.

The standard operating procedures outline how to create work requests, the necessary approvals for performing maintenance work, measures for inventory control and tooling, a hierarchical order of maintenance tasks, and procedures for documenting maintenance work and material consumption. It can also define how to use digital tools adopted by the company.

SOPs and standard workflows eliminate errors that would negatively impact maintenance work. There are no guesses to what measures the technician should take to resolve machine defects. Update SOPs and workflows regularly to reflect changes in the number of production assets and technological advancements.

Invest in appropriate technological solutions
After organizing everything, from workflows to maintenance requirements, the company needs to identify appropriate technological tools. These solutions improve the consistency of routine workflows and enhance data management. Precision maintenance is all about leveraging data to extend proactive maintenance in a facility. The most popular technology solution that unifies personnel, tool, and equipment management is a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS).

CMMS solutions are vital for employee collaborations, maintenance planning, tracking maintenance work, work order management, and maintenance, repair, and operation cost tracking. Other digital tools like condition-monitoring sensors remain critical for monitoring the real-time performance of assets.
Companies can leverage technological solutions to track maintenance work. They can identify challenging situations and address them immediately, preventing the transfer of errors that will jeopardize the quality of the maintenance work performed. The choice of digital solutions is dependent on the company’s budget and the objectives of its precision maintenance program.

Create a continuous improvement culture and review the progress of the program
The success of the precision maintenance program is never final. Advances in technology and production dynamics affect the reliability of maintenance programs. Each company should focus on continuous improvement through a strategic implementation of digital solutions and technical training for maintenance employees. Companies must review these programs to verify their effectiveness. Are precision maintenance programs reducing equipment downtime? How much is the company spending on maintenance?
Companies can encourage continuous improvement by involving employees in decision-making. Encourage innovation among team members and reward maintenance champions.

Precision maintenance as a philosophy is a vital ingredient that guarantees consistent maintenance work. It ensures that maintenance personnel deliver high-quality work. The precision reduces equipment downtime, increases productivity, and extends the life of machinery. Establishing a precision maintenance program can be hectic. It is a lengthy process that demands proper planning. Build a successful program by training employees, creating standard work procedures, using appropriate digital tools, and conducting periodic reviews to phase out obsolete workflows and standards. MRO

Bryan Christiansen is the Founder and CEO at Limble CMMS (a mobile CMMS software company). He can be reached at


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