“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” —Benjamin Franklin
He must’ve been onto something because that old saying still holds up today. Any experienced facility manager or technician understands the importance of preventive maintenance in K-12 schools. It’s an integral part of routine maintenance.
Being proactive about preventive maintenance could help you avoid the long-term consequences of reactive maintenance and can save your school district tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars every year on worn-down equipment.
So, where are you supposed to get started with your preventive maintenance schedule? Who’s responsible? How are you supposed to fit it in with the rest of your yearly workload?
We’re going to cover all this and more as we plan out your preventive maintenance work step-by-step.
Preventive Maintenance and Your Bottom Line
Preventive maintenance gives busy K-12 facility management teams the ability to anticipate equipment breakdowns and repairs ahead of time before it’s too late.
In a typical reactive maintenance model, technicians are dealing with repairs on the fly. Maintenance teams have no way to plan ahead to ensure they have the correct parts or the right technicians available when responding to work orders sporadically.
Basically, reactive maintenance turns into a giant game of repair whack-a-mole, and it’s a terrible ROI.
Here are a few preventive maintenance best practices facility teams can take to prevent this from happening:
- Keep a running inventory of spare parts and order them ahead of time
- Track the service history of school assets like HVAC units and electrical systems
- Deploy a dedicated work order portal for faculty and staff to submit their work orders
These simple best practices give your school’s technicians the ability to stay on top of their workload, address work orders in a timely manner, and ensure a longer lifespan of critical district assets.
Benefits of Preventive Maintenance in K-12 Schools
In a reactive maintenance model, repairs are made once equipment has already broken down.
Think about it this way. Would you send your car in for repairs once it starts blowing smoke and has been propped up on four cinder blocks? Of course not. The golden rule of maintenance is to anticipate problems ahead of time—that’s exactly what proactive maintenance allows you to do.
Effective scheduling and reduced downtime
Setting up a preventive maintenance schedule allows your maintenance and facilities teams to reduce wasteful downtime. Instead of waiting around until something finally breaks, conducting routine maintenance enables you to make the most of your working hours (and avoid long hours when a last-minute repair is more complicated than you thought).
Increased asset and equipment lifespans
Everything breaks down eventually—but there’s no reason you can’t reduce repair costs by conducting regular maintenance.
A preventive maintenance schedule allows facility teams to check and update the status of school equipment throughout the year. These regular checkups make it easy to catch problems before district assets reach critical condition or are damaged beyond repair.
The short-term costs associated with regular maintenance outweigh the long-term expenses incurred by needing to replace expensive district assets every couple of years. If you value your time and money, preventive maintenance is the only way to go.
Never run out of spare parts
When the time comes that you finally need to make a repair, having the parts required to get the job done is essential. In a preventive maintenance model, school facility teams can track and manage their parts inventory to ensure that a missing part never bottlenecks a work order.
How to Create Your Year-Round PM Schedule
Here are the steps you need to take to develop an effective preventive maintenance program in your K-12 district.
Determine Which PM Schedule to Follow
First off, there are two kinds of PM schedules—a fixed schedule and a floating schedule. How you plan your schedule has a significant impact on how your facility teams conduct maintenance.
Fixed PM Schedule: Fixed preventive maintenance scheduling is when regular maintenance is scheduled at a certain time or usage interval, regardless of when you conducted maintenance last. For example, using school facility management software, you could set up an automated work order to occur for a specific asset each Monday at the beginning of the week.
A fixed PM schedule doesn’t give teams greater flexibility with their maintenance efforts. However, it does ensure that district assets are constantly being checked on——regardless of how busy your schedule gets during the school year.
A fixed PM schedule is best used for lower-priority district assets like lighting fixtures, classroom doors, etc.
Floating PM Schedule: A floating preventive maintenance schedules new work orders based on the time the previous work order was completed. These tasks do not have a specific date attached to them. Instead, the date of the work order changes depending on an asset’s maintenance history or past usage.
In a floating PM schedule, preventive maintenance work orders aren’t automatically triggered the way they are in a fixed schedule. If a work order is incomplete, it will remain open until the repair is finally made.
A floating PM schedule gives school technicians greater flexibility to monitor and conduct regular maintenance on critical district assets like plumbing and electrical systems.
Identify and Prioritize Your Assets
When you’re first planning or transitioning to a preventive maintenance workflow, it is advised that you prioritize your district’s most critical assets first.
These “critical assets” include:
- Assets that are vital to your school’s physical infrastructure
- Assets with high rates of failure that can be prevented with regular maintenance
- Assets with high repair and replacement costs
- Assets that are increasingly likely to fail over time
For example, a school’s HVAC system would be considered a critical asset because it’s expensive to repair and is necessary to maintain a safe and work-friendly learning environment for K-12 students, teachers, and staff.
Here’s another tip: As you first start rolling out your preventive maintenance plan, try it out on newer assets at the beginning of their lifecycle. Conducting regular maintenance on assets that are starting to fail isn’t an efficient use of your time.
Collect & Analyze Asset Repair Histories
Once you’ve identified your district’s most critical assets, you need to develop a solid understanding of their service history.
Take the time to learn how often critical district assets have needed repairs and the type of repair that was needed. Gathering historical data on your assets’ repair histories gives school facility teams additional insights on which assets need to be prioritized for regular maintenance.
If you don’t already have a holistic view of your district assets’ service histories, you can easily track and manage them with school facility management software.
Determine Required PM Frequencies
Now that you’ve identified and prioritized the assets in your district that require regular maintenance, you can begin setting dates for repairs to take place. This marks the very beginning of your preventive maintenance plan.
But first, it is advised that you speak with your school’s maintenance technicians before setting your PM plan in motion.
Maintenance technicians have anecdotal and hands-on experience that can’t be captured in a digital service history log. You might discover that you’re low on spare parts for a critical asset or that a school technician has been running into a consistent issue with an asset manufactured by a particular vendor.
Your maintenance technicians can also inform you if they have experience conducting a specific kind of repair. If a technician on your team has extensive experience working on large HVAC systems, you’ll want to plan the regular maintenance of that asset around their schedule.
In short, the structure of your facility management team has a significant impact on when you should set up your PM dates.
Develop an Ideal Preventive Maintenance Plan
You should have gathered enough data to draft an initial plan at this stage in your PM preparation. All that’s left is to schedule regular maintenance dates throughout the school year, assign them to relevant technicians, and start executing.
As your preventive maintenance strategy starts to take effect, be sure to track the condition of your district’s critical assets and compare them to previous years. You should notice a significant change in their overall condition. If you prove the ROI of a PM plan to school leadership, you could transition to a preventive maintenance model altogether.
Implement & Adjust as Necessary
At this point, your plan is in action, your calendar is organized, and your district assets are finally getting the attention they deserve—so what’s next?
Now it’s time to optimize. School facility managers should adjust their initial plan as necessary to create a successful preventive maintenance program. You can get a 360-degree view of your maintenance team’s performance, as well as key insights needed to streamline your maintenance workflow with facilities management analytics.
Your preventive maintenance schedule will never be perfect, but with detailed data and accurate performance reports at the tip of your fingers, you can always take corrective measures later on.
Optimizing Via Preventive Maintenance Software
If you can complete each of these steps successfully, you’re well on your way to becoming a preventive maintenance pro. However, your PM plan is only as good as the tools you use to back it up.
You don’t want your CMMS software or preventive maintenance software to be the weakest link.
At Incident IQ, we’ve developed a service platform that connects facilities teams with other K-12 departments that are crucial to carrying out school operations. Using our school facility management software, maintenance teams can plan, streamline, and execute a successful preventive maintenance strategy with tools built specifically for K-12.
Ready to ditch the old reactive maintenance model? Speak with one of our K-12 workflow management experts to learn more.