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two construction workers on site, using an operations and maintenance manual

Operation and Maintenance Manuals

Operation and Maintenance Manuals are a comprehensive document that details information about an industrial plant and individual pieces of maintenance equipment. An O&M manual also discusses proper upkeep procedures in order to ensure that property and equipment do not get damaged over time. Also, it usually outlines the functions related to all of the assets. Essentially, companies design operation and maintenance manuals so assets do not deplete over time and equipment is always reliable. Life cycle management through operation and maintenance manuals is the greatest expense for operating a facility over its lifecycle. Manuals ensure the safety of employees because they help prevent damage to equipment. Therefore, companies suffer from less legal trouble. 

The Creation of Operation and Maintenance Manuals

Contractors and sub-contractors create operation and maintenance manuals when they hand off projects to other contractors, or when they complete a project. Contractors create Operations Manuals for the completion of a plant and during the different parts of the construction operation. Medium and large companies create operations manuals. Many people help with large operations. When many people are involved, it is likely that information can get lost in translation if it is not explicitly written in an organized manner.  

What is included in an O&M Manual?

Companies use modules when they design operations manuals. Usually, the type of information in an O&M Manual includes: a construction worker measuring, representing the importance of operation and maintenance manuals

  • Company information, background, and organizational charts; 
  • Details and description of the building’s construction guidelines (e.g. finishes, cladding and insulation, windows, and roof);
  • Drawings and specifications about the infrastructure, including any revisions to the originals;  
  • Health and safety information;
  • Comprehensive explanations of each operating procedure;
  • Registry of all the equipment, which may or may not include financial information;
  • Details of each asset, including location, manufacturer, model number, other specs (sub-type, color, etc), and product life expectancy, if possible; 
  • Corrective and preventative maintenance programs, including schedules, procedures, and test requirements;
  • Emergency procedures that outline the safety measures, the people, organizations, and agencies that need to be notified in case of failure; 
  • Reference to the manufacturer’s manual or guide with relevant information;
  • Manufacturer and/or supplier’s contact details;
  • Commissioning and testing results;
  • Guarantees, warranties, and certificates; 
  • Requirements for equipment and asset decommissioning, demolition, and disposal

Data Collection and O&M Manuals

Operations manuals do not only have information about the current operations of a plant. O&M Manuals also help with preventative maintenance and include procedures for tracking data. Usually, this includes information about lubrication requirements, equipment warranties, and replacement parts. There is usually a standard for collecting data for the construction-operations building exchange. COBie is a method of collecting information and data.

Contractors use this data during construction and pass it on to company owners. This is usually the same information you need to deliver your project. The collection of this data through the design process and the regular usage of a plant help track how it depletes over time. Individual parts are replaced and maintained when they cause concern, rather than an entire plant being fixed at one time. This means that interruptions to business operations are minimized.

Operation and Maintenance Manuals Template

Due to the fact that Operation and Maintenance Manuals sometimes address large operations, there are pre-created templates for O&M Manuals. The government often contracts large industrial projects. Due to this, many government websites include archives and references to preexisting templates. For example, the Massachusetts government even has templates for various operations from mold manageme in schools to the basics of bottling water.  

Adapting Templates

Although there are templates that already exist in relation to O&M, adaptation or creation of new templates is sometimes necessary. 

First, Select What Platform is Best

Although simple word processing software exists, manuals made on these platforms are very hard to update and modify. Word processing software saves manuals in a manner that makes it hard to track the newest copy. Employees mistake old manuals for new manuals.  Therefore, utilize software that is specifically made for Operation and Maintenance manuals.  

Create a Consistent and Easy-to-Read Layout

Employees need to find information quickly. Therefore, it is important that manuals use sections with headings. This helps readers easily skim through the information. Also, the format and style should be consistent. 

Involve the Manager when Developing the Manual

When creating an Operation and Maintenance Manual, seek feedback from your manager. Feedback helps identify process delays and flaws. Manuals communicate the most important information to others. Prioritizing quality over quantity helps your documentation remain concise. Also, when the manager invests in the manual, they can help promote its proper use and improvement over time. 

Encourage Suggestions and Improvements

It is important for companies to ask employees for feedback during the beginning stages of manual creation. Additionally, it is vital that companies ask for feedback when a manual is first used. If a manual is unclear, you can quickly address problems before they drastically impact operations. Set up a system to review and implement the best suggestions to make your operation and maintenance manuals more useful over the long term.

These operation and maintenance manuals can be a valuable resource for the entire maintenance team. If you don’t have it in your organization yet, take the time to put it together. Remember that you can upload to the maintenance software program for easy access. Industries use computer-based training when operation and maintenance manuals are made digital. Therefore, the IT department works with the contract managers to create a system of learning.


Overall, Operation and Maintenance Manuals are important as operations get larger and larger. They promote safety, efficiency, and success in the industries that implement them. Operation and Maintenance Manuals cover a large amount of information, so it is vital that they are well-organized and simplified for the reader. 

Whether you need a single technical writer for a brief project or a team of consultants to produce a complete line of documentation, the quality of our work is guaranteed for you. Our clients work closely with an Engagement Manager from one of our 30 local offices for the entire length of your project at no additional cost. Contact us at (800) 221-0093 or to get started.