Equipment maintenance should be preventive rather than reactive (unless there is redundant equipment in the design or the component failure does not pose a safety issue). Many break-downs can be prevented with regularly scheduled maintenance.

Scheduling and planning are necessary for a successful preventive maintenance program. The maintenance schedule should be tracked and stewarded. If an automated (computer-based) schedule is not possible, a written schedule should be developed for stewarding and posted to remind workers of when maintenance activities are to be performed.

Equipment reliability can be quantified as the mean time between failures (MTBF). If MTBF is based on observations of equipment operation over time, then it should be a useful tool for developing a preventive maintenance program and avoiding equipment failures.