two construction workers on site, using an operations and maintenance manualWhat is in an Operation and Maintenance Manual?

An Operations and Maintenance manual is 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 operations and management manuals is the greatest expense for operating a facility over its lifecycle.  Manuals ensure 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 operations 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: 

  • 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 possess 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 altered at one time. 

Operations and Maintenance Manual Templates

Due to the fact that Operations 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 remediation 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 O&M manuals.  

Create a consistent and easy-to-read layout.

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

 Involve the manager when developing the manual.

When creating an O&M Manual, seek feedback from your manager.  Feedback helps identify inefficiencies and flaws.  Manuals communicate the most important information. 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 companies 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 operations and maintenance manuals more useful over the long term. The ‘s 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 operations and maintenance manuals are  Therefore, the IT department collaborates with the contract managers to create a system of learning.


Overall, operations and maintenance manuals are important as operations get larger and larger.  They promote safety, efficiency, and longevity in the industries that implement them.  O&M Manuals cover a ginormous amount of information, so it is vital that they are well organized and simplified for the reader. 

If you are looking for more information about operation and maintenance manuals, always know Essential Data Corporation is here to help. With a team of consultants that produce a complete line of documentation or a single technical writer for a brief project, Essential Data’s Engagement Manager will lead the project from start to finish. At Essential Data Corporation, we guarantee the quality of our work.  In need of help? Contact (800) 221-0093 or