Auto mechanics advise automobile owners to change the oil in their vehicles every 3,000 to 5,000 miles. They know that doing so has proved effective in extending the functional life and performance of an automobile’s engine—and therefore helps vehicle owners avoid unnecessary, costly, and untimely breakdowns, repairs, and replacements.
Heating and air conditioning professionals advise homeowners to change the filters in their units every one to three months. Why? Because doing so has proved effective in extending the functional performance of HVAC systems, thus allowing homeowners the opportunity to reduce or avoid unnecessary downtime, repairs, and higher energy costs.
Dentists advise patients to brush and floss daily and to schedule regular dental examinations every 6 to 12 months. Why? Because doing so has proved effective in extending the functional performance of teeth and gums, thus maintaining desirable oral health and avoiding unnecessary discomfort, ill health, and expense.
These examples are practical manifestations of a universally accepted concept that’s commonly referred to as preventive maintenance (PM). When I ask workshop participants for a working definition of PM, I normally get the following: “It’s the process of fixing something before it breaks.”
The primary implication in this definition is that if left unattended, ...