2 Common Methods for Parks Preventative Maintenance

Image of a parks worker performing preventative maintenance on a vehicle

If your team finds its workflow disrupted by equipment breakdowns, facility issues, and constant park repairs, it may be time to examine your preventative maintenance plan.

The best way of dealing with problems in parks and facilities is by catching them before they become major issues. Scheduling routine preventative maintenance for your assets helps prevent breakdowns, injuries, and workflow disruptions. 

Of course, parks and recreation agencies have a lot of moving parts. Finding the time to work around programming schedules and other routine tasks may be difficult. But successfully implementing a preventative maintenance plan makes a huge difference in overall operations. Once it’s in place, you may wonder how you survived without it.

In this article, we look closer at preventative maintenance for parks agencies, why it’s essential, and the most common ways this type of maintenance gets scheduled. 

What is Preventative Maintenance for Parks?

Preventative Maintenance (PM) refers to routinely scheduled tasks to inspect and fix signs of wear and other issues before they lead to breakdowns or significant damage.

For example, during a playground inspection, your staff may notice premature wear on the unitary surface. Staff alerts the maintenance manager to the issue. The work gets assigned to repair the small section before it spreads over a wider area.

If that inspection never occurred, you may only become aware of the issue once the repair is much more expensive and labor-intensive. 

PM is also important for equipment assets. After all, going down a mower or two during the growing season disrupts carefully created schedules. 

But what if your crew spent a few minutes each morning checking the mowers for potential problems? Catching a low oil level or loose hardware before it leads to a breakdown can save countless headaches during the growing season.

Parks and recreation can use PM on assets like:

Benefits of Preventative Maintenace

You just read two examples of preventative maintenance in action. Let’s take a closer look at other ways parks and recreation agencies benefit from PM:  

Benefits of a PM program include:

  • Fewer Work Disruptions: Catching minor problems before breakdowns and mechanical failures will keep your team focused on what they need to complete--not constantly reacting to maintenance problems.
  • Saving Money: Equipment failures are costly to repair or replace. Staying on top of routine maintenance is more cost-effective. Also, when equipment runs well, it operates more efficiently, saving money on energy costs.
  • Longer Lifespan for Assets: Regular inspections and maintenance help equipment and assets perform better and longer.
  • Improves Safety for Staff and Visitors: Unnoticed faulty equipment and safety hazards can cause serious injury. Staying on top of the equipment’s condition leads to safer areas. 

Common Types of Preventative Maintenance

When setting up a preventive maintenance plan, many parks and recreation agencies choose one of the following to schedule the associated tasks. 

Time-Based Preventative Maintenance 

Time-based PM schedules tasks using calendar intervals. For example, changing the HVAC filters every two months or performing a thorough playground inspection every three weeks.

Creating a time-based PM schedule is fairly straightforward since the assets get inspected and maintained consistently. 

Advantages of Time-Based Preventative Maintenance include:

  • Easier to schedule
  • Less confusing to implement
  • Maintenance occurs at consistent, predictable intervals

Usage-Based Preventative Maintenance

Usage-based PM takes into account intervals like mileage, hours used, or visitor patterns when scheduling maintenance tasks. Once an asset reaches a usage milestone, the PM gets performed. 

Following through with a usage-based PM plan can be more complicated because staff needs to be aware of and report how each asset gets used. 

Advantages of Usage-Based Preventative Maintenance include:

  • More accurately focusing on maintenance tasks when necessary.
  • More dynamic schedules based on the varying needs of different seasons.
  • Reduced labor and parts costs due to more effective PM scheduling. 

Which Type of PM is Better?

Ultimately, the better PM choice depends on your agency and maintenance team. One of the main advantages of time-based preventative maintenance is its relative simplicity. On the other hand, usage-based PM may be more complicated to implement. The extra tracking, however, prevents maintaining an asset too much or too little.

Many parks and recreation agencies operate in a more “gray” area where there is usually a combination of time and usage-based PM. For example, they may conduct thorough inspections of playgrounds every month but schedule vehicle service based on mileage.

Since the needs of parks maintenance equipment and assets can vary dramatically based on the season, it’s worth considering at least a partial usage-based PM schedule. 

For example, a particular site gets significantly more usage during the summer because it hosts several summer camps. Maintenance staff do more frequent inspections and maintenance on the playgrounds and other structures during those times. 

Image of a person on a computer scheduling preventative maintenance

Using Technology to Help with Preventative Maintenance

More agencies are using software and technology to help create and implement their successful preventative maintenance plans.

The benefit of using technology: You can set up all your preventive maintenance in the system, have it scheduled for the year--or beyond--and have staff report in a central location when tasks get completed. No searching through file cabinets to find a vehicle or playground inspection from four months ago. 

Maintenance management software keeps accessible records that allow your agency to use data to make more informed decisions about when to schedule maintenance. Staff can create a more accurate time-based PM schedule based on past usage data.

Maintenance management software also allows your staff to track the usage of vehicles, equipment, or other assets to help accurately schedule PM tasks. 

The Takeaway

The best way to handle major issues is to prevent them from occurring. Setting up routine preventative maintenance tasks and inspections for your equipment, parks, and facilities makes it easier to catch minor issues.

And when the minor issues get addressed, there’s less chance of them becoming major problems. The steady stream of reactive maintenance decreases, and days become more predictable with fewer disruptions.

Usage, time-based, and, more often, a hybrid of the two are the most common types of PM parks and recreation agencies use. Agencies using technology for scheduling, tracking, and reporting have found software helps the planning and implementation process.