Understanding the Differences Between Reactive & Proactive Maintenance

What are your maintenance considerations?

Many businesses rely heavily on certain machines or equipment. Be it a factory which has numerous machines for production purposes, or an office where there are clerks working away on computers, it is evident that machines and equipment are imperative for production and efficiency. So, whenever a machine develops a fault, or another one breaks down, the first reaction is going to be panic, particularly if production is going to stop completely as a result and cost the business potentially lost income.

Preventative Maintenance Costs. Image credit: Reliasoft

The Preventive Maintenance Option

Unfortunately equipment breakdowns are a normal part of any business operation. Sometimes it happens to one machine, and sometimes there is something wrong with another. It is something that cannot be really avoided. The only solution is to try to minimize the incidence of such problems by carrying out maintenance on machines from time to time. This is the prime objective of Planned Preventive or Proactive Maintenance, whereby you try to prevent problems by having a schedule to carry out regular maintenance on your machines and equipment. Proactive maintenance helps you in being proactive, that is, you try to stop problems from emerging by keeping your machines in good condition. For some machines it may be a really good decision to do this as thanks to preventive maintenance you increase their efficiency as well as improve their lifetime. However, other machines may not be that costly, and in time they may still need to be replaced for more technologically advanced versions. Therefore before opting for preventive maintenance it is important to take this into consideration. Moreover, you will also need to consider the time and costs involved in sticking to a preventive maintenance plan.

The Maintenance Mix Cost Evaluation. Image credit: Asset Insights

The Reactive Maintenance Approach

For those who feel that preventive maintenance is too troublesome and not that cost effective, the other option is to go for a reactive maintenance approach. Reactive maintenance, or breakdown maintenance, as it is sometimes referred to, is carried out when a machine or equipment breaks down. So you would be calling a technician to come to check out what is wrong with that machine at the time that it does not switch one, or if it does not work as it should. Reactive maintenance thus aims at resolving the problem and fixing the faultĀ at the time of error, until it gets back to its normal operating condition. This may seem to be a more realistic option, however you would also need to take into account the fact that the technician may take a while to come to check out your machine. Until then production may be halted or reduced. There would be idle workers and you would be wasting money and precious time. It could also be that once the technician arrives he decides that the machine needs to be repaired elsewhere and this will take a considerable time, probably days. The repair job may be higher than it could have been if you had devoted some time and money on regular maintenance too. So, reactive maintenance needs to be considered with caution as it may turn out to be more costly and less effective than it may seem to be in the first place.

The Decision

Naturally both Preventive and Reactive Maintenance have their respective pros and cons, and no one business is going to be the same as another. For some businesses it may turn out to be feasible and cost effective to opt for one approach, but for another business it may not be the case. Deciding which approach to maintenance for your commercial establishment makes most sense requires a lot of deliberation and it is important to consider every aspect wisely so as to make a good decision. Generally speaking reactive maintenance should be chosen in cases where machines are not that costly, and when possible failure does not cause considerable disruption. On the other hand if you are looking for improved reliability, cost efficiency and conservation of costly assets, preventive maintenance will make more sense.

Special Thanks

Much gratitude and respect goes out to the following websites for references and material used in this article: