Maintenance Strategy 202: Develop your equipment maintenance strategy, then develop your equipment maintenance programs

First develop maintenance strategy—what you want to achieve with your equipment maintenance, why it is necessary, and how to do it.

Then turn strategy into the plans to maintain production asset reliability with the equipment maintenance program.



Often maintenance managers and maintenance engineers are asked to develop a maintenance strategy for their plant and equipment. They need to develop a document. In it you explain how you are going to use the least plant and equipment maintenance expenditure and efforts to ensure the necessary production performance from your production plant and equipment.

There is one step prior to this that needs to be mentioned. Before the development of the maintenance strategy is the development of the enterprise asset management strategy.

The enterprise asset management strategy explains the life-cycle selection and use of your plant and equipment assets to achieve the year-after-year production goals that will deliver the year-after-year business goals. Maintenance is just one of the on-going enterprise asset management strategies you will use. Maybe it’s not even the most important in achieving your overall business success, but it’s definitely very, very important in achieving your production success.

With the importance of maintenance to your production success firmly placed into a business context through the asset management strategy, you then need to decide how to use maintenance to maximise your production productivity. This is the role of your equipment maintenance strategy.

Below is a sample of the contents page to a maintenance strategy document. It indicates all the typical issues that need to be addressed in your maintenance strategy document. There maybe other issues that you will have to add that are specific to your operation.

It is a substantial undertaking.

But without it you are flying-by-the-seat-of-your-pants, everything will be guess-work. Without it vast amounts of production time and money will be wasted. You will work in an ‘also-ran’ operation that no one cares about. But with a maintenance strategy you have the chance of becoming one of the great companies in your industry—maybe even renowned world-wide for your incredibly successful production performance. Making your company into a world-class leader is a job worth doing well!


Typical Contents of an Equipment Maintenance Strategy Document

  1. Maintenance Policy (why you do maintenance in your business, who does it, how you do it, what you expect from it)
  2. Production Performance Envelope (what daily plant availability is needed to meet the production output? What is the daily average production rate that must be sustained to deliver the required output? What is the daily quality rate required to meet production plans? What equipment reliability is needed for each piece of plant to deliver the total plant availability required to meet the production plan? How much can you afford to spend on maintenance and repairs?)
    • Production Performance Required
    • Process Reliability Analysis (reliability model your production process to identify its weaknesses and most likely performance)
  3. Risk Assessment of Operational Assets (what can go wrong with your equipment, what will it cost, how often does it happen. The equation is: Risk = cost consequence [$] x no. of events in a time period [/yr] x chance of event (‘chance of event’ is between 1 if it will definitely happen, to 0 if it definitely will never happen). You would do this in a spreadsheet. Use the DAFT Costs as the consequences value. DAFT Cost is the Defect And Failure True Cost – the cost impact of an equipment’s failure across the whole business)
    • Equipment Level (e.g. a complete pump set)
      • Financial and throughput impact on production of failures of each equipment
      • Equipment Criticality (prioritise the importance of the equipment to sustaining production)
    • Assembly Level (e.g. pump – coupling – motor – base frame – foundations – power supply)
      • Failure Mode and Effects Analysis at part level (identify the parts in the assemblies that can fail and in which ways. Then identify the maintenance each part requires to prevent production failure)
  4. Production Risk Management Plan (how maintenance is used at the parts and assembly level to reduce production risk at the equipment level)
    • Precision Maintenance Standards needed to meet plant and equipment operational performance (Mechanical, Electrical, Instrumentation, Structural, Civil – Safety, Environmental, etc)
    • List Equipment on Preventive Maintenance (to adjust and/or replace wearing parts)
      • List of equipment done as shutdown, or as opportunity based PMs, or as time/usage scheduled PMs
      • Precision standards to meet when performing PMs
    • List Equipment on Predictive Maintenance (to detect impending failure and repair/replace before failure)
      • What condition monitoring will be used
      • Where will the condition monitoring be done
      • How will it be decided when it is time to maintain or replace
      • Who will do the condition monitoring (i.e. subcontract, in-house maintainer, in-house operator)
      • What will be done when condition is too far deteriorated
    • List Equipment to Rebuild (to identify which equipment will be repaired)
      • Criteria to pass to justify repair instead of replacement
      • How many times to rebuild before replacing with new
      • Precision standards to meet on each rebuild
      • Precision standards to meet on re-installation
    • List Equipment to Replace (to identify which equipment will never be repaired but always replaced. The DAFT Cost of a breakdown often easily justifies installing new equipment, rather than take the chance of an unplanned production stoppage)
      • Precision standards new equipment must meet
      • Precision standards to meet on installation
    • Critical Spares List (to identify which parts you must have available)
      • Equipment parts to be carried on-site
      • Equipment parts to be carried by local supplier
      • Stores management standards to protect integrity of spares
  5. Records Management (to document maintenance history of equipment and parts usage in order to identify reliability improvement opportunities)
    • Which engineering, operational and maintenance documents to keep
    • How documents are to be kept current and safe
    • What records are to be made and kept over each equipment life
    • What analysis of records will be required and the information to be provided from the analysis
    • How will all the records and documents be controlled
  6. Maintenance Performance Monitoring (to ensure that maintenance is delivering the reliability, availability, quality and cost that the production plan requires)
    • KPI definitions and calculations
    • Plant level KPIs (e.g. availability, unit cost of production, quality rate)
    • Equipment level KPIs (e.g. reliability, quality rate, production rate)
    • Personnel KPIs (e.g. hours spent developing skills, employee satisfaction)
    • Maintenance Process Performance KPIs (e.g. daily work order complete per trade type, backlog of work, percent planned work, percent scheduled achievement)
    • Maintenance Improvement KPIs (e.g. no. of procedures written to ACE 3T standard, no. of design-out projects started, no. of design-out projects completed
    • Reliability Prediction KPIs (e.g. no. of work orders spent improving reliability, reliability improvement graphs i.e. Crow-AMSSA plots)
  7. Maintenance Resources Required (there will be a need to resource the production risk management activities known as ‘maintenance’)
    • Necessary maintenance equipment and technologies
    • Necessary stores capacity and stores internal operating methodologies
    • Necessary engineering and maintenance knowledge
    • Necessary trade skills and competence
    • Necessary numbers of people by trade type/service
    • Location of people for most efficient operation of maintenance activities
    • Necessary Computerised Maintenance Management System (CMMS) capabilities
  8. Cost and Benefit Analysis (to confirm that the cost of doing maintenance will return value to the business)
    • Annual maintenance cost verses the cost of failures prevented (the risk analysis will provide the DAFT Costs that will be incurred by the business if equipment fails)
    • Annual maintenance cost verses the cost of lost production output if plant availability does not meet production targets (your production and equipment history can be used to determine the numbers of production slowdowns and stoppages in an ‘average’ year that did not need to happen)
  9. Rolling Two Year Maintenance Program (indicate exactly when and what is to be done with each item of plant to deliver maximum production productivity)
    • Work orders by type performed on each equipment item and the benefits they provide
    • Schedule of work orders for each equipment
  10. Rolling Two Year Maintenance Budget (you can now develop a believable budget that will deliver the risk control that your production needs. Using a rolling two years forecast lets you include the savings from improvement initiatives. Two years is a believable time period in which changes can be anticipated. A five years forecast becomes unrealistic in the later years because you cannot anticipate the impacts of a changing world.)
    • Maintenance cost by equipment
    • Maintenance cost by plant
    • Maintenance cost by type
    • Maintenance cost per time period
    • Equipment improvement plans

The list is reasonably comprehensive but you will need to tailor it to suit your situation and the requirements of your business and its management.

Once you have put the time and effort into developing such a detailed strategy you will be very confident that it will achieve its intention. Such a document is the result of many peoples’ efforts and input.

It is best developed by a team consisting of production, engineering, maintenance and finance working together. It can take three to six months to do the job in the detail you really need to have. But you can probably get a rough document together within a couple of months and then keep refining it.

I hope that the above information has been of use to you.


My best regards to you,

Mike Sondalini
Managing Director
Lifetime Reliability Solutions HQ