FM Articles

Bulletproof Facilities Maintenance Program

Facilities Maintenance Program

Establishing a Facilities Maintenance Program sounds intimidating. Even the name of the program is a mouthful, but it’s not an impossible task. It can be less than daunting, as long as you approach the program kickoff in a step-by-step method. You’ll be less likely to miss important basics, and more likely to encapsulate all of your Facilities Maintenance needs if you address your program logically.

Do you already have your CMMS installed and ready to go live? There are many different CMMS systems on the market, and they can have a lot of common features. However, if you want a CMMS that gives your technicians the ability to upload their information directly from the site of the breakdown as they make repairs in real time, you’ll want a system with a hand scan ability. If you want something with capability that is more technical and the tools to connect to sensors and control process systems from the CMMS, you’ll want to step it up to a system where you can remotely operate equipment.

You need to decide prior to purchasing and installing your CMMS exactly what you are expecting from your system. If you don’t do your research, you could end up with a system you’ve outgrown in six months, or you could be throwing away obscene amounts of money with a system you don’t need half of the features of.

  • Who is adequately trained?

Are all of your technicians expected to open and close work orders for trouble calls that they respond to? Do you have an administrative assistant who will be responsible for the work order assignment and data entry? What about emergency service work orders or afterhours work orders? What are the proper steps for clocking in on a work order and checking parts against it if it is an afterhours service call?

  • Do you have a systems administrator and trainer in place?

The two are not one and the same. Your systems administrator, usually a key member of the maintenance management staff, needs to be the go-to on any decision making when it comes to your facilities maintenance program. If any changes are to be made, it is to be run through your administrator. There is no executive call made about any deviations from the program unless it is discussed and agreed with the administrator.

Your trainer, on the other hand, is going to ensure that everyone who keys so much as a comma into your CMMS is adequately trained. They will ensure that the proper procedures on work orders, from open to receiving parts to charging labor to close are fully understood by anyone that is interacting with the CMMS or requesting maintenance in your facility.

  • Are your technicians ready to go live?

The last thing that you want to do is to alienate your technicians and slow their progress in an already time restrictive line of work. Give them the training and tools to master the system, and to be fully abreast on every procedure that is under your Facilities Maintenance Program.

  • You can have every piece of maintenance software on the market, if your staff isn’t trained, it’s doing no good for your facility.

 Plant/Facility Drawing

Once you have established the direction you are headed in software and system controls capabilities, you need to prepare to build a comprehensive asset list. The easiest way to get a full list that doesn’t involve spending days on the facility floor identifying and tagging assets manually is to print a full facility drawing (asset drawing) and build your asset directory directly from your drawing. Start from one side of the facility and work your way to the other side. If you don’t have your facility and assets mapped out, you should strongly consider doing so, as this is an invaluable resource to have, and keep constantly updated.

You also need to amass all of your equipment O&M manuals. They need to be ready to upload and maintain in a user-friendly fashion and remain accessible to anyone who needs to gain information on the equipment. Everyone from the lube tech to the sanitation day shift needs to be able to get maintenance and parts information on that particular machine any time of the day or night. All employees who will perform any sort of task or maintenance on the equipment need to be trained to find and access information in the O&M manual directory.

  • You can walk by a tank farm every day and still forget to add it to your inventory list.

It’s like the tool that’s laying on your shop table, but you can’t seem to find it. You’re so accustomed to seeing it, you completely overlook it entirely, even when searching for the tool. This happens when you’re manually locating and tagging equipment on the facility floor. You may very well walk by a compressor room and not think to tag the compressors. It’s just a habit to know they’re there, but not manually put hands or tools to them. Use your plant asset drawing to set up your program so nothing is forgotten.

  • Use your drawing print to ensure all of your O&M manuals are uploaded and ready to be accessed by your technicians for key information.

Once you have keyed all of the assets, you can use your same print to check your O&M manual listing. If it is on the asset map, it needs to be in the manual directory as a guide.

Comprehensive Inventory of Assets

  • You’re preparing to upload all key information on this asset. O&M manuals are imperative. Start meter readings/equipment hours should be logged. Every detail about this item that can be listed should be listed, because you don’t know what questions the parts department will ask when you call for a replacement seal in 7 years. Give yourself the advantage.
  • Don’t forget outlying areas, free moving equipment (compressor room, HVAC units, refrigeration units, freezers, yard equipment, lifts, etc.). It is so easy to forget the back dock and all of its machines, or the conveyor system that runs through the attic, or the packing line on the mezzanine. Check and check again. The last thing you want is to have nomenclature that is senseless because the machinery that should have been numbered second isn’t numbered until 412 other machines are labeled. Double check, assign asset codes in a sensible and orderly fashion, and if it doesn’t look sensible, reconsider your choice.
  • If it gets lube, a wrench turned, or a belt changed, it needs to be included. There is no maintenance work order too small to include that asset in your listing. Even the blender knife sets need asset numbers because they’re sharpened. The only way to track labor, parts, and work on a piece of equipment is by giving it an asset number and charging all of those things against that asset number.
  • Your technicians are your asset that ensures your program works. They are a part of your asset listing, along with their Maintenance Line/Area. This also ensures that miscellaneous parts like shop towels, O-rings, and lube can be signed out to your mechanics asset number, as they cannot be signed to one machine in particular.
  • How do your work orders currently get assigned? Is a particular tech dedicated to an area or service line? Is it a system that assigns by tech availability to answer the maintenance call? Is this the system you intend to stick with under your new CMMS? Once you have established the on-call order, you can begin assigning work orders to the mechanic in charge of that line or department, or whatever your system is.

Address every assets maintenance based on the specs that are listed by the manufacturer. If the O&M reads lube every 72.8 rotations, a time frame for 72.8 rotations needs to be added to your CMMS work order. Deviate from spec and guidelines as little as possible.

Although this may seem insignificant in the grand scheme of the maintenance program, think about this: 8 extra rotations before service x7 days per week x52 weeks per year. That’s enough of a deviation to redline a machine if it isn’t carefully watched. Expensive machinery, sensitive process controls, and heavy equipment has a delicate balance. Stay as close to the recommendations as you can, and you will save yourself labor and repair bills in the end.


  • What: What work needs to be performed? List every step, in full detail.
  • When: What time frame between maintenance inspections or service? Every 2 weeks? Every 6? Be specific.
  • Whom: What technician is responsible for completing the maintenance? If that tech is out, does he have a replacement?
  • How: Special parts orders? Outside contractor assistance? Any provisions that need to be adhered to in order to complete the maintenance on the asset need to be plainly spelled out. You don’t want to leave your tech guessing about the correct way to perform maintenance on the machine. Give him the tools he needs to be successful.

Is your facility sanitation crew part of your maintenance department? If they are not, how does the regular disassembly and cleaning of machine parts, pumps, CIP lines, and conveyors figure into your maintenance program?

The fact is, tear down and cleaning of machines is a process that needs to be noted and saved in the equipment maintenance history. If sanitation handles breaking it down and cleaning it, they need to have a sanitation series of work orders to track the work, or they should fall under the umbrella of maintenance to ensure the proper procedures are being followed in maintaining the equipment, cleaning or changing parts.

  • How frequently does sanitation tear down and sanitize the asset? If it is weekly, a 7-day work order needs to be created.
  • Do they perform the task as a job description, or is it performed by any sanitation team member that is in the area at shutdown? Any time you disassemble a machine, you are changing the integrity of the way the pieces reconnect. It should always be noted and filed when the machine is disassembled.
  • How is the work recorded? Do they have their own set of work orders to complete e.g., do S-01 orders indicate Sanitation work? If not, sanitation should be included in the Maintenance work order assignment, because being outside of the maintenance department shouldn’t exclude you from properly documenting the tear down and condition of a machine.

Annuals – Teardowns – Shutdowns

  • When do you perform annual inspection and/or rebuild of the equipment?
  • What staff is responsible for scheduling and performing?
  • Which assets are included in the yearly/quarterly/rebuild schedule?
  • How will these overhauls be performed? Outside contractors? Staff technicians?
  • What is the duration of the overhaul or shutdown? What will be addressed during that time frame?

As long as you walk your facilities maintenance program plan to this point, you should have an all-encompassing thorough Maintenance Program set up and ready to go live. Although it’s never too late to add equipment, it is too late to add lost equipment service records or equipment lost to lack of maintenance. Your best chance at keeping your facility and assets in tiptop shape is to adhere to your Facilities Maintenance Program.

Talmage Wagstaff is Co-Founder and CEO of Redlist. Raised in a construction environment, Talmage has been involved in heavy equipment since he was a toddler. He has degrees and extensive experience in civil, mechanical, and industrial engineering. Talmage worked for several years as a field engineer with ExxonMobil, servicing many of the largest industrial production facilities in the Country.