Preventive Maintenance vs Reactive Maintenance

Sep 24 08:13 2013 Brandon Vincent Print This Article recently released the results of its 2013 Computerized Maintenance Management System Benchmark Report, which sought to identify the advantages and gains that utilizing computerized maintenance management software (CMMS) supports.  Preventive maintenance as a means of increasing uptime and reducing costs was identified as a top priority for responders.  And implementation of preventive maintenance programs was also identified as a priority.  The majority of responders that used CMMS (52%) indicated that they were very satisfied with their system’s preventive maintenance capabilities, (46% of EAM/ERP users reported being very satisfied).  

Top priorities for 2013 varied but circled three major themes: 

1.    Improving inventory tracking and organization - moving from corrective (reactive) to preventive maintenance.
2.    Reducing asset downtime and increasing overall reliability (thereby reducing total costs).
3.    Improved worker communication and effectiveness through greater utilization of mobile maintenance systems.

Reactive maintenance is quite common and may be defined simply as the practice of replacing or repairing assets after they fail to operate properly and is often deployed with low-cost assets that can be readily replaced.  Preventive maintenance (PM) is most commonly pursued when assets are more costly and/or are critical to a plant’s operations.  Examples of PM may include periodic adjustments,Guest Posting lubrication, part replacement, and so on.

Ideally maintenance programs incorporate a mix of reactive, preventive, and predictive maintenance practices.  Best practices indicate that 50% or more of maintenance management should actively leverage preventive and predictive maintenance habits.  Despite this, studies reveal that exclusively or largely reactive maintenance programs remain the norm in the U.S.  In a recent study, the average maintenance program of a typical facility breaks down as: 

• >55% Reactive
• 31% Preventive
• 12% Predictive
• 2% Other


This is most often attributed to the low (initial and short-term) costs of reactive maintenance.  However, when the longer view is taken, reactive maintenance has hidden and cumulative costs that can eclipse the maintenance operating budget and sideswipe critical maintenance operations.  Below is a simple comparative chart of the pros and cons of both types of maintenance:

Reactive Pros
•    Low Cost
•    Less Staff

Reactive Cons
•    Increased cost (e.g., unplanned downtime
•    Increased labor cost (e.g., overtime)
•    Increased repair or replacement costs
•    Possible secondary equipment or process damage (due to equipment failure)
•    Inefficient use of staff resources

Preventive Pros
•    Cost effective even in many capital-intensive processes
•    Flexibility allows for adjustment of maintenance frequency
•    Increased component life-cycle
•    Energy savings
•    Reduced process or equipment failure
•    Estimated 12% to 18% greater cost savings than reactive maintenance

Preventive Cons
•    Catastrophic failures still likely to occur
•    Labor intensive
•    Includes performance of unneeded maintenance
•    Potential for incidental damage to components in conducting unneeded maintenance

According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the U.S. Navy pioneered preventive maintenance to increase their vessels’ reliability, a truly mission critical initiative.  In the DOE report, O&M Best Practices Guide, Release 3.0, they state that while additional resources are required upfront, that by expending them and conducting preventive maintenance activities, equipment life and reliability is substantially extended.   The DOE report (referenced in the above table) concords that the benefits gained by implementing preventive maintenance far outweigh the benefits of relying on a reactive maintenance program. 


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About Article Author

Brandon Vincent
Brandon Vincent

Brandon Vincent is the author of this article describing the differences between reactive and preventive  maintenance. CMMS software is one of the main drivers of preventative maintenance efforts.

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