Incident IQ

K-12 Workflow Management Blog

Preventive vs. Predictive Maintenance in K-12 Schools

Article Contents

Facilities management encompasses a lot of tasks and responsibilities, and maintenance is one of the most essential elements. Just as stocking spare parts and creating a facility safety checklist keeps a facility running smoothly, planned and proactive maintenance improves operations by reducing the risk of unplanned downtime.

Preventive and predictive maintenance are two approaches to maintenance management. And while no facilities manager wants to waste time on unnecessary maintenance or find themselves swimming in excessive work orders, predictive and preventive maintenance helps avoid both these scenarios by using data to execute intelligent maintenance strategies.

Keep reading to learn how to develop a proactive approach to maintenance, and when it’s time to apply predictive and preventive maintenance to your equipment.

What is Preventive Maintenance?

Preventive maintenance is when a maintenance team performs regularly scheduled inspections, updates, and repairs on school equipment and assets. Facilities Managers develop schedules for preventive maintenance based on historical data and manufacturer recommendations. Rather than repairing a piece of equipment after it fails, as is the case in reactive maintenance, preventive maintenance occurs when equipment is in good operating condition. Some assets may require annual routine maintenance, while others may need quarterly, monthly, or weekly inspections.

Many different kinds of equipment within a school facility can benefit from preventive maintenance, including:

  • Alarms and sprinklers
  • Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems
  • Lighting systems
  • Boilers
  • Kitchen appliances
  • Plumbing

Preventive maintenance helps ensure that your school day isn’t interrupted by equipment failures or repairs. For example, maintaining school temperatures is important for student learning, comfort, and health, so an HVAC system is a prime candidate for routine maintenance. Maintenance professionals can replace filters, tighten electrical connections, and clean components to help avoid the risk of a system failure—which could lead to unplanned school closures.

Advantages of Preventive Maintenance

Preventive maintenance is an effective strategy for schools that want to reduce unplanned downtime and equipment failures. It also helps improve asset conditions because items receive regular inspections before they begin to degrade or malfunction. This extends the equipment’s lifespan and cuts costs.

Experienced and knowledgeable maintenance professionals can perform preventive maintenance efficiently, typically at much faster rates than reactive maintenance requires. When a piece of equipment fails completely, you may need the assistance of a specialist who charges much higher rates for their services. As a result, preventive maintenance can save your school money not only on replacement parts and extensive repairs, but also on labor.

Techniques Used in Preventive Maintenance

Preventive maintenance is a cost-effective way for facilities managers to lower the risk of equipment failures and breakdowns, but it’s only effective if the maintenance department follows a carefully developed plan. A year-round preventive maintenance schedule includes a variety of steps, including:

  • Inspecting equipment and assets at regular intervals, such as once a week, month, or quarter
  • Performing regular maintenance tasks, such as applying lubrication to moving parts
  • Cleaning equipment and assets on a regular basis
  • Replacing parts with limited lifespans, such as filters, on a set schedule

Unlike corrective maintenance, which often requires shutting down critical systems at unexpected times, maintenance teams can perform preventive maintenance during planned periods of downtime that can be scheduled when students are not present. This helps lessen the number of unnecessary interruptions in your school day.

What is Predictive Maintenance?

Predictive maintenance is the process of monitoring the performance and condition of equipment to determine when a problem might exist and repair it before a breakdown occurs. This type of maintenance often involves the use of Internet of Things (IoT) technology and sensors, which track certain aspects of an asset’s condition, flag issues, and allow the maintenance department to respond to concerns before they advance to an equipment failure.

Because of the nature of predictive maintenance, it’s generally impractical to use it for every asset in your school. Facilities Managers generally prioritize specific items, such as:

  • Machinery with a history of reoccurring or chronic problems
  • Equipment that could pose a health risk in the event of a malfunction or failure
  • Systems that are critical to a school’s ability to operate, such as heating and cooling units

A boiler system is an example of a system that meets all of these requirements. If your school has a boiler that has repeatedly broken down, it would be well-suited to predictive maintenance. Boilers with no history of failures may still be good candidates because they provide the building with hot water and heat, which are both crucial to a school’s basic operations. In the worst-case scenario, a faulty boiler can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning, placing students and staff at significant risk. Predictive maintenance helps to ensure that this critical system remains operational and lowers the risk of dangerous air quality.

Advantages of Predictive Maintenance

One of the greatest advantages of predictive maintenance is that it allows you to mitigate issues before they escalate to equipment failures. Planned repairs generally take much less time to complete, which allows you to shorten downtime. This type of maintenance also helps increase your equipment’s lifespan by avoiding running it to a point of irreparable damage. Replacing equipment and performing extensive repairs drive up costs substantially.

Predictive maintenance also offers improved inventory efficiency when compared to other types of maintenance. While K-12 maintenance teams using predictive maintenance strategies do not run parts to failure, they also do not replace them unless data and monitoring show that it’s necessary. This results in significant cost savings over time.

Techniques Used in Predictive Maintenance

A predictive maintenance strategy involves the use of technology and data analysis to observe errors or flaws in equipment before they lead to equipment failures. Common predictive maintenance tasks include:

  • Vibration analysis: This condition monitoring technique allows you to detect when moving parts like belts are vibrating excessively, which can indicate an imminent machine failure.
  • Oil analysis: Many types of equipment rely on oil to function properly, and checking the condition and looking for contaminants on a regular basis can help identify problems with asset performance.
  • Thermal analysis: The temperature of a piece of equipment can say a lot about its condition, and performing thermal check-ups can help pinpoint the location of the issue and determine what type of maintenance is necessary.
  • Ultrasonic analysis: Exposure to the elements and frequent use can cause metals to break down, and a predictive maintenance approach incorporating ultrasonic technology allows maintenance managers to detect issues like corrosion and cracks.

Unlike a run-to-failure strategy, in which maintenance teams only repair equipment once it has failed, these predictive maintenance techniques empower facilities managers and school leaders to spot problems early on and prevent unexpected outages.

Preventive vs Predictive Maintenance At a Glance

Preventive and predictive maintenance both allow facilities managers to perform maintenance tasks during periods of planned downtime, which is far superior to reacting to sudden equipment failures. The main difference between these two types of maintenance is that preventive maintenance is not condition-based, whereas predictive maintenance relies on condition monitoring.

A preventive maintenance approach involves scheduling specific upkeep tasks that occur regardless of whether the asset has shown any indications of failing. In contrast, predictive maintenance only occurs when IoT and data collection technology determine that a flaw or defect exists. When you develop a maintenance plan, it’s important to consider which maintenance type is best for each piece of equipment. Determining factors include the age and condition of the asset and whether it has a history of performance issues or breakdowns.

How to Implement a Predictive or Preventive Maintenance Program

Using predictive and preventive maintenance helps keep your facilities management operations under budget, prevents unnecessary downtime, and improves the overall condition of your assets. Predictive maintenance, in which you monitor the status of select equipment, is ideal for critical systems and assets with a history of failures. Preventive maintenance is an excellent strategy for equipment that requires regular maintenance tasks, such as lubrication and filter replacements.

Facilities managers can simplify the process of developing and overseeing their preventive and predictive maintenance strategies with a workflow management solution. iiQ Facilities from Incident IQ combines facilities and asset management in a single platform, which in turn:

  • Optimizes your maintenance processes
  • Reduces maintenance costs
  • Boosts equipment lifespans

Incident IQ improves predictive maintenance by providing a stream of real-time data so that your maintenance team can identify potential issues. In addition to this data collection, iiQ Facilities allows you to schedule time-based maintenance activities as part of your preventive maintenance plan. The workflow management solution also sends notifications when you’re running low on essential parts, which offers cost savings by preventing expedited orders and ensuring that no important maintenance work goes unfinished.

To learn more about how school facility management software can help, schedule a free demo. You’ll get the full picture of everything that facilities management and maintenance software can do for your team, budget, and K-12 district.