Opportunistic maintenance approaches deal with performing group preventive maintenance (PM) on the other units in a series system due to the intervention of any scheduled PM of a component. Simultaneous maintenance actions show better economic performance due to the direct reduction of downtime costs and production losses. However, it is uneconomical to perform maintenance on all units simultaneously. To address this issue, various simulation and optimization approaches including Markov chains, genetic algorithm etc. have been applied in order to achieve optimum solutions in group maintenance models. However, most of these strategies suffer from intractability as the problem size increases. In the present paper, we develop an efficient opportunistic grouping methodology for the multi-unit series system while considering imperfect preventive maintenance. The aim is to obtain an optimum PM interval and grouping of units to minimize the expected total system maintenance cost per unit time during the mission. A recently developed meta-heuristic named ‘Jaya algorithm’ is applied to optimize the objective function. The effectiveness of the proposed approach is examined with three maintenance models: single unit model, mono-group model and the proposed opportunistic group model. Results reveal that the proposed group maintenance model results in 19\% cost savings as compared to the mono-group model and 71\% compared to the single component maintenance model. © 2019, Operational Research Society of India.