What Is Time-Based Maintenance? A Guide for Maintenance Managers

Photo of maintenance manager in electrical room, time-based maintenance
 Photo of maintenance manager in electrical room, time-based maintenance

Industrial maintenance is increasingly moving toward higher levels of technological advancement and complexity, with strategies like condition-based, predictive, and prescriptive maintenance leading the way in ensuring equipment reliability. Amidst these evolving changes, however, Time-Based Maintenance (TBM), historically known as periodic-based maintenance, remains a common approach to maintenance management. 

This guide will explore TBM, providing insight into its mechanisms, pros and cons, and implementation, as well as context for its evolution and the statistical models that support it.

What is Time-Based Maintenance?

TBM is a maintenance strategy that involves scheduling maintenance activities at regular, predetermined intervals based on the equipment’s estimated lifespan. This approach assumes predictable equipment failure behavior, which is supported by statistical models such as the Weibull distribution. It is based on the idea that machines have a predictable lifespan and that maintenance activities can help to prevent breakdowns and extend lifespan (Ahmad & Kamaruddin, 2012).

TBM originated from traditional manufacturing and industrial practices, where the scheduling of routine maintenance was determined by time or usage metrics, like the number of completed cycles or operation hours.

How Time-Based Maintenance Works

TBM is implemented by scheduling regular maintenance tasks, for example, inspections and parts replacements. TPM is either based on the manufacturer’s recommendations or historical data. The maintenance schedule is determined by failure rate trends, divided into burn-in, useful life, and wear-out phases. These phases serve as the foundation of TBM and are illustrated by the bathtub curve model (Ahmad & Kamaruddin, 2012).

Bathtub curb model, time-based maintenance

TBM differs from condition-based or predictive models that rely on working equipment’s real-time conditions. And there are several proven benefits to using more advanced models that monitor and predict the exact time maintenance is needed with high degrees of accuracy. 

TBM demands routine maintenance, which can result in over-maintenance and higher associated costs. For example, a company can set up routine maintenance plans that replace parts when they’re not needed. Performing unneeded maintenance can also result in lower equipment reliability and breakdowns caused by over-maintenance.

Benefits and Limitations of Time-Based Maintenance

Every maintenance strategy comes with its own pros and cons, and Time-Based Maintenance is no exception. One of TBM’s key strengths lies in its ease of implementation and straightforwardness. This method is particularly effective and offers a straightforward and simple approach to maintenance for non-critical equipment with predictable wear and tear patterns.

However, upon closer consideration, TBM is not ideal for business-critical equipment or equipment with unpredictable failure patterns, especially in scenarios where accuracy and equipment uptime are of the utmost importance. Further, while TBM can help prevent unexpected breakdowns, it can also lead to higher costs, more planned downtime, and unnecessary maintenance. 

Implementing TBM

When implementing TBM, a maintenance schedule will be created using historical data or manufacturer guidelines. It’s important to note that maintenance management software, like LLumin’s Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS+), can help streamline the scheduling, tracking, and recording of maintenance processes, making a new or existing TBM program much more efficient. 

We’ve listed the foundational steps of implementing TBM below.

Steps to Implement Time-Based Maintenance

  1. Identify equipment suitable for TBM.
  2. Establish maintenance intervals based on manufacturer guidelines or historical data.
  3. Develop a maintenance schedule and checklist.
  4. Train maintenance staff on TBM procedures.

Best Practices for Optimizing Time-Based Maintenance

If you’re looking to improve an existing TBM program, you’re on the right track. The key to improving your maintenance program primarily lies in refining your existing maintenance management processes. In an industrial setting, everything will revolve around incorporating continuous assessment, feedback, and documentation into your processes.

The following best practices can help you optimize TBM. You can reduce expenses and increase equipment reliability by following the tips given below.

Best Practice



Review and Adjustment of Maintenance Intervals

Assess and modify your maintenance schedule based on real-time equipment performance and historical failure data.

Ensures maintenance activities align with equipment needs, reducing downtime and costs.

Incorporate Feedback from Maintenance Staff

Gain insights from those directly interacting with the equipment to identify potential improvements. Implement valuable feedback.

Uses on-the-ground experience to improve maintenance scheduling and problem identification.

Documentation and Analysis

Maintain up-to-date records of all maintenance activities and analyze them to identify patterns and areas of improvement.

It makes TBM data-driven, allowing for more informed decision-making and strategy refinement.

Continuous Improvement

Revisit and refine your TBM program to adapt to changing conditions and technological advancements.

Ensures that your TBM program remains effective over time by adapting to new challenges and opportunities.

The Future of TBM

Recent research indicates there are significant advantages to using real-time, condition-based maintenance models over TBM. Furthermore, advances in the Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI) are poised to transform the TBM approach into a more data-driven and predictive model. 

Integrating an existing TBM maintenance approach with advanced predictive maintenance tools and technologies can significantly improve its effectiveness, allowing for more finely tuned and accurate maintenance scheduling.

Improve Time-Based Maintenance With LLumin’s CMMS+

Time-Based Maintenance is a key part of any maintenance manager’s set of tools. It’s easy to use, which makes it great for equipment that isn’t critical for your business or for machines that break down in predictable ways. TBM has its limits, but it’s a good choice for certain kinds of equipment.However, using the latest technology and some smart strategies can make TBM even better.  With LLumin’s CMMS+, you can make your maintenance work more effective. It can help cut costs and make it easier to manage and track your maintenance tasks, which means you can do your job better and with less hassle.

Getting Started With LLumin

LLumin develops innovative CMMS software to manage and track assets for industrial plants, municipalities, utilities, fleets, and facilities. If you’re questioning ‘what is a work order’ and how these documents can be best used to support successful maintenance operations, we encourage you to schedule a free demo or contact the experts at LLumin to see how our CMMS+ software can help you reach your efficiency and cost-cutting goals.

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