team performing routing maintenance on assets and equipment
team performing routing maintenance on assets and equipment

Routine Maintenance

There’s a lot of maintenance terminology in the facilities management world, and sometimes it can be hard to understand each phrase’s nuances.

Use this comprehensive guide to learn what routine maintenance means, the distinction between routine maintenance and preventive maintenance, and how to get started in your facility today.

What is routine maintenance?

Routine maintenance refers to any maintenance task performed at regular, time-based intervals that keep facilities operating smoothly. Routine maintenance can be as simple as making sure all bathrooms are stocked with toilet paper at the end of every day or as complex as inspecting and adjusting heavy machinery.

Many routine maintenance tasks are perfect examples of the phrase “you don’t know what you’ve got, till it’s gone.” Several aspects of routine facilities maintenance are taken for granted, such as working light bulbs, empty trash cans, and clean floors until they’re suddenly not there one morning.

By creating a routine maintenance plan, you can ensure that the day-to-day tasks that keep your facility operating never slip through the cracks.

Routine maintenance workflow

The routine maintenance workflow is a cycle that assets identified as a good fit for routine maintenance go through. The workflow becomes a closed-loop cycle once the asset has been set on a time-based routine maintenance schedule, repeating throughout its useful life.

routine maintenance workflow: identify asset, set time-based maintenance interval, create checklist for asset, time interval is hit, prompting maintenance, assign checklist, perform routine maintenance, use asset as usual

Identify asset

The first step in the routine maintenance workflow is a simple one: identify your asset. Ensure this asset will benefit from routine maintenance before moving on to the next step. Remember that additional spending on routine maintenance does not always directly translate to further cost savings because of the law of diminishing marginal returns.

Increasing routine maintenance on an asset doesn’t always lead to additional cost savings.

Set time-based maintenance interval

The next step is determining how often the routine maintenance task should be performed. Some assets require daily routine maintenance, but for others, it may make more sense to check in weekly, monthly, or even semi-annually.

Knowing how often to perform routine maintenance is crucial in hitting the perfect point between additional costs and optimal savings associated with routine maintenance.

Create a routine maintenance checklist for the asset

Once you’ve determined how often the task should be completed, create a checklist covering every step of the routine maintenance task. Checklists ensure consistency across technicians and make the routine maintenance process as streamlined as possible.

The time interval is hit, prompting maintenance

After you’ve set the time-based interval, your next job is to wait. Make sure you have a system to prompt the maintenance when the allotted time has passed. Whether it’s a paper calendar or maintenance software, find a system that keeps you on schedule!

Assign checklist

Once maintenance has been prompted, assign the task to a maintenance technician. Ensure the technician has easy access to the maintenance checklist to ensure complete and consistent maintenance every time.

Perform routine maintenance

Complete the routine maintenance task! Although this step is probably the most time-consuming, it’s the most straightforward.

During this step, it’s best to understand if it makes sense to continue inspecting and repairing the asset or if your team should prepare to invest in a new one. Routine maintenance repair and replacement analysis can help you make this decision.

Use asset as usual

After the routine maintenance has been performed, go back to using the asset as usual. Continue to use the asset until the time prompt is hit and return to step four.

Make sure to schedule the next maintenance window in your calendar system if you don’t rely on maintenance software to do this automatically.

Examples of routine maintenance

Routine maintenance is a crucial part of operating any facility, but it can look drastically different depending on the facility’s industry and workspace type.

We’ve put together some examples of what routine maintenance might look like across different types of organizations.

Schools

Routine maintenance in schools exists in two major categories: daily upkeep and simple inspection and maintenance tasks. Daily upkeep primarily consists of janitorial tasks. This includes changing garbage bin liners, making sure restrooms are clean and stocked with toilet paper, and sweeping the floors.

Simple inspection and maintenance tasks might look like ensuring all lightbulbs are working and replacing damaged bulbs as needed. Simple tasks also include making a point to regularly check on out-of-sight equipment, like a water heater or HVAC system, to ensure everything is working properly.

Manufacturing

While manufacturing facilities also require daily maintenance, most of their routine tasks are to keep equipment and assets running efficiently. Daily upkeep is important to ensure all employees feel safe and comfortable at work.

Manufacturing-specific routine maintenance tasks mostly relate to heavy machinery and ensuring it remains in great condition. Cleaning debris and excess lubricant from equipment, sharpening cutting tools, and adhering to safety standards and protocols are just a few examples of routine maintenance tasks that should be regularly performed in manufacturing facilities.

Manufacturing organizations also benefit from a repair and replacement routine maintenance strategy. This allows teams to easily recognize if it’s worth the time and effort to consistently repair and inspect an asset or if it’s best to invest in a new one.

Property management

One of the most challenging aspects of property management is the number of facilities that need to be maintained and the distance between them. However, having a good routine maintenance program can make scheduling these tasks easy.

Routine maintenance plans for property managers are primarily focused on managing grounds and building upkeep. This might look like shoveling and icing walkways in winter, performing seasonal HVAC maintenance, or making sure common spaces are clean and well-maintained.

Benefits of routine maintenance

Many of the tasks outlined above are duties your facilities management team will have to address one way or another. However, with a routine maintenance plan in place, you can ensure these tasks are always completed on time with the right resources.

Here are some of the biggest advantages that come along with implementing a routine maintenance plan.

benefits of routine maintenance: as length of time routine maintenance is in place, cost savings go up, downtime decreases, and backlog shrinks

Catch issues early

When your team follows daily routine maintenance checklists, you can ensure that a technician regularly lays their eyes on important, out of sight equipment.

Without a routine maintenance plan in place, some equipment may be forgotten day-to-day and only brought to your team’s attention when there is already a prominent issue.

Routine maintenance can ensure that equipment is checked on regularly enough to ensure issues are caught early on.

Decrease downtime

Catching issues early and performing maintenance before the matter worsens decreases equipment downtime. Keeping your assets in tip-top shape is absolutely the best method for reducing downtime because it lessens the risk of asset malfunction.

Regular checks are a great way to ensure all equipment stays in great condition.

Lengthen equipment lifespan

This benefit corresponds with decreased downtime. Taking proper care of your equipment lengthens the assets’ useful lifespans. For example, regular oil changes help extend the overall life expectancy of your vehicle. The same principle extends to manufacturing machinery and other pieces of equipment.

Reduce backlog

Routine maintenance reduces the number of equipment breakdowns due to improper care, reducing subsequent maintenance requests and ultimately reducing backlog. In addition to this, implementing a routine maintenance plan keeps your maintenance team on top of daily tasks, leaving more time each day to address maintenance requests as soon as they occur.

Save money

Less reactive maintenance and longer equipment lifespans both boil down to the same thing: cost savings. However, one thing every facilities manager should be wary of in regards to cost savings is the myth that more investment always means more savings.

Some facilities may end up spending more on preventive routine maintenance tasks than they would have spent on reactive maintenance. Be sure to conduct a cost/benefit analysis on capital-intensive routine maintenance tasks to ensure they are worth your team’s time and money.

Routine vs. preventive maintenance

Many people use the terms routine maintenance and preventative maintenance interchangeably. While there are a lot of similarities, there are a few key differences that set them apart.

Routine maintenance Preventive maintenance
Occurs at regular time-based intervals (daily, weekly, monthly, yearly) Prompted by preset time-based (daily, weekly, etc.) or meter-based (every X widgets produced with manufacturing machinery) intervals
Primary goal is to keep the facility in operating condition Primary goal is to prevent equipment from breakdowns and downtime
Tasks are fairly simple and associated with general upkeep Tasks are more involved and often require formal training to perform
Example: checking a piece of manufacturing machinery to ensure it is still running properly Example: performing maintenance on a piece of manufacturing machinery to ensure it stays in great shape to produce high-quality output

How to get started with routine maintenance

One of the best things about routine maintenance is that it’s easy to get started. Growing your routine maintenance plan to meet your facility’s needs fully will take some time and investment, but the first steps can be implemented almost overnight and at no cost.

Here are the three best ways to get started with routine maintenance.

Implement maintenance checklists

Checklists are the foundation of every great routine maintenance plan, and they just so happen to be a no-cost option. The key to effective routine maintenance is consistency. Checklists ensure routine maintenance tasks are performed the same across all technicians, and no tasks are overlooked.

Even if the list is built up of tasks your team is already performing, the physical act of checking tasks off a list holds your team accountable, ensuring nothing slips through the cracks.

We’ve put together a list of facilities management checklists and preventive maintenance checklists that are downloadable for free to help you get started as soon as possible.

Create a schedule

Schedules are great. Similar to checklists, they are a no-cost option that can help you significantly increase your facility’s productivity. Set aside a specific time each day for your team to work through routine maintenance checklist items in addition to completing maintenance requests and other day-to-day tasks.

Just make sure you allow enough time for reactive maintenance needs that may arise out of the blue.

For routine maintenance tasks that don’t need to occur every day, evaluate how often they should be completed. Then create weekly, monthly, or semi-annual checklists.

Hold your team accountable

Feel free to take the organization one step further and assign certain tasks to your team members on your maintenance schedule.

Delegating work to a technician and scheduling it in their day is the best way to ensure your facility’s routine maintenance tasks are always given the attention they deserve.

Routine maintenance and CMMS software

If you’re ready to take your facility’s routine maintenance to the next level, a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) may be a great fit for you.

CMMS software allows you to store all checklists in the cloud, making them accessible to your team anytime and anywhere with a mobile device. You can also digitally assign maintenance tasks and schedule blocks of time to dedicate to performing routine maintenance.

Beyond just routine maintenance, CMMS software also enables your team to tackle preventive maintenance and predictive maintenance.

Learn more about CMMS software and its features to see how you can optimize operations in your facility.

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