Which is Best: Proactive Maintenance or Reactive Maintenance?

Choose the Most Appropriate Maintenance Schedule for Your Premises

Any business tries to ensure that it is running at its maximum efficiency. In most cases, this calls for the use of machines and equipment, and whenever one of such assets breaks down or requires repairs or maintenance, research shows staff productivity reduces when equipment is faulty. The bigger a business or commercial establishment is, the more machines and equipment there will be. Consequently, breakdowns and repairs end up being quite common. This highlights the need to carry out maintenance. However, there are two approaches to do this in reality. There is Reactive Maintenance which is carried out once a failure or breakdown occurs. And then there is Preventive, Predictive or Proactive Maintenance, which basically involves carrying out maintenance according to a plan, so as to reduce the probability of machines and equipment developing faults or failures. Needless to say both of these approaches have their respective pros and cons. One method may be suitable for one business, but it may not be feasible for another. So, it all depends on the type of business, the size of the building, the number of machines and pieces of equipment, the staff requirements and the budget. Let us elaborate a bit further on these two types of maintenance.

Reactive Maintenance

With reactive maintenance the technician or handyman will be called in to solve a problem once it occurs. So, be it a computer problem, a machine that is not working properly, or a piece of equipment which has developed some sort of fault; you will be waiting for the problem to arise to take action, thus the name, reactive, which means that you are reacting to the problem. In this scenario there could well be a significant negative impact on productivity, especially if there is no backup available. Imagine there is a machine which forms an integral part of the production process, and it is not working properly. Once you call in a technician to diagnose the problem and fix it, you will also be ending up with the production process halted. As a result, until the machine is fixed or replaced there is going to be a loss of efficiency, limited or no productivity, idle workers, and less sales and profits. Considering this scenario it is important to be aware of the importance of certain machines or equipment, and so reactive maintenance may not be a reasonable option in this case. Also, if the commercial establishment is a large one it is going to be quite difficult to keep up with various faults that arise on the many machines. Generally larger companies opt for preventive maintenance so as to be able to keep up with the demands of the various machines and equipment. In order to decide whether reactive maintenance is the best option for your business, you need to consider three main factors, namely:

  • Can you afford to have unpredictable downtime?
  • Can you afford to have a technician to see to the maintenance periodically?
  • Consider the costs involved in either case, and try to establish which one is the most cost effective option.
Typical Reactive Maintenance Performance. Image credit: Bjarni Ellert Ísleifsson

Planned Preventive Maintenance

Preventive maintenance is often considered to be more feasible, particularly because in most cases it tends to increase the lifespan of assets, and thus also reduce the costs associated with replacements or costly repairs. When maintenance is carried out on a regular basis, machines or equipment are more likely to function efficiently, and this results in cost savings as well. Thanks to a preventive maintenance plan you are more likely to retain efficient productivity, reduce unplanned downtime or idle time, and so there are savings in that aspect too. However, it is important to note that preventive maintenance also has some drawbacks. For instance, some machines may have become outdated and despite the fact that they are running well you might still be better off replacing them with more cost effective and technologically advanced ones. Excessive maintenance may turn out to be a problem too, not to mention the time required to schedule maintenance. If you were to add up all the time spent on maintenance jobs over a span of years it might end up amounting far more than the repairs which might have been needed in reality. So there is both time as well as the cost factor involved. It is important to focus on these aspects to make the decision of whether to stick to preventive maintenance or not;

  • How many machines do you have, and how much time and money is it going to take to see to their maintenance?
  • Is it worthwhile to increase their lifetime, considering their cost, and possible replacement?
  • Can you afford preventive maintenance?
Planned Preventative Maintenance vs Support Requirements. Image credit: ICU

Answering these questions may put you in a better position to make a good choice.