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The Ultimate Preventive Maintenance Checklist for the Automotive Industry [With Examples]

October 10, 2022

 by David Collins III

automotive industry

Preventative Maintenance (PM) is one of the most critical functions a manufacturer can engage in. However, our experience shows that many factories ignore preventive maintenance functions and only conduct maintenance when the equipment breaks down or has already sustained serious and visible damage.

Why is Preventative Maintenance Necessary?

The old adage that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” (or for our non-imperial measurement using readers, “a gram of prevention is worth a kilogram of cure”) is accurate. A good PM policy prevents equipment damage, quality issues, safety issues, and unplanned equipment downtime from occurring in the first place. A properly running machine will produce higher quality, leading to lower amounts of rework and scrap. Breakdowns can stop the entire line and cause massive, expensive delays. Finally, a poorly functioning machine is a safety hazard to the operator and those around them.

Why is Preventive Maintenance So Often Ignored?

Sadly, it is a human tendency to overlook risks until they are too obvious to ignore, especially if it requires work to prevent them. A factory might want to make production and not want to stop to check machinery.

They tend to get very focused on delivering this order before late penalties kick in, then shipping to that customer who threatened to leave them, and after that, pushing that production out the factory gate before they are forced to send it as pre-paid air cargo. A busy factory’s production department is caught in a never-ending string of short-term emergencies, and their schedule is constantly upset by last-minute issues (e.g. a batch that needs to be reworked, a tool that broke on a machine, and so on and so forth).

It could work, and there may be no breakdowns, quality issues, and injuries, but more likely, it will not be the case. They work in an unstable system that makes everything much worse, making them too busy to improve the system in the first place.

The Solution: A Total Preventive Maintenance Checklist

A part of the solution is to create a preventative maintenance (TPM) checklist for each machine and a regular maintenance schedule based on the manufacturer’s recommendation. The schedule will vary depending on the machine and the working conditions. Some machines need a daily cleaning & checkup activity, while other tasks can be on a weekly or monthly basis.

Attached is an automotive preventative maintenance checklist. Why automotive? The automotive industry has long been at the forefront of manufacturing improvement led by the likes of Toyota. This checklist can be used for any piece of equipment. However, the check items will change.

The advantage of this checklist is that it is clear, simple, and versatile. Below is an explanation of each of the terms used:

  • Area – Area in the factory (CNC, paint, etc.)
  • GL Responsible – Who is responsible for the General Ledger (GL) with the records for this piece of equipment
  • TL Responsible – Who is the team leader (TL) for this line or area
  • TM Responsible – Who is the team member (TM) for this area (i.e. who operates the machine)
  • Machine Name, #, and Type - What is the machine called, what number is it of the ones in the factory and what does it do
  • Safety – Items that contribute to the safety of the machine
  • Quality - Items that are part of the machine's quality
  • Production – Items part of the operation of the machine
  • Check item – The specific items
  • TRNG REF – The training manual reference for this part of the machine
  • Key Points – Why is this item checked
  • Week Number – Which week of the year is it (this can be changed depending on the schedule)
  • Problem – What is wrong with the machine
  • Countermeasure – How was the problem addressed
  • Who, when, status – Who addressed the problem, when did they address it, and has it been resolved

The Bottom Line

There are two final things to consider when using this, or any, checklist. They are only effective if used correctly and consistently (for example, operators take 5 minutes for PM tasks before the start of their shift, every single day), and operators and maintenance personnel must be trained to the correct standard for that equipment. Without these two considerations in place, no maintenance checklist can be effective. Implementing a good maintenance program takes time and effort, however, if it is done well, the savings and efficiency improvements are second to none.


Interested in CMC's exclusive preventive maintenance checklist for the automotive industry? Click below.

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Topics: Manufacturing Consulting, Manufacturing In China, Preventive Maintenance

David Collins III

David Collins III

David was a Senior Strategy Consultant for Deloitte, served in Iraq as a Special Operations Civil Affairs soldier, and as a Governance Advisor to the Afghan Government with the Department of State. At CMC, David advises clients on strategy and investments.

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