When Canadian municipalities were asked in a recent survey "how do you select projects for preventive maintenance and rehabilitation", one-third said they use the "worst-first" criteria. That is a stunning admission. Preventive maintenance doesn't just happen. Like all good programs it needs organization and it needs structure.
The process goes something like this:
1. Establish the management aspects of the program: preventative maintenance is a way of technical thinking, financial planning and budgeting. Use a simple goal to maintain focus and a sense of purpose.
2. Establish the technical aspects of the program: A good preventative maintenance program should fold neatly into a Pavement Management System. Develop guidelines for evaluating pavement conditions, predicting pavement performance and setting priorities. All maintenance and rehabilitation actions must be coordinated and in sync.
3. Determine maintenance needs: A condition survey shouldn't just tell you which pavements have problems that need correcting today. It should also tell you which pavements need treatment today to avoid problems tomorrow.
4. Provide a framework for treatment selection: There is no shortage of preventative maintenance techniques. Picking the right one at the right time and at the right cost is what engineering is all about. Whether it is based on life cycle costing, decision trees or any number of other analytical tools, make sure that you use a consistent, logical framework to decide what to do.
5. Set priorities: If you didn't have a budget, you wouldn't need to set priorities. Life's not like that. Set priorities so that the most important tasks don't get lost in the shuffle.
6. Monitor, Measure and Assess: Is it working? There is only one way to find out. Monitoring and measuring the program allows you to make sure that you are picking the right treatments for your particular situation and conditions and that those treatments are, indeed, meeting the objectives.