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What Is Reactive Maintenance?
Reactive maintenance is work performed on equipment that has already broken down. This type of maintenance strategy takes a reactive – rather than proactive – approach to equipment failure. It is often referred to as breakdown maintenance.
Contrary to common intuition, this approach works out far more expensive in the long-run. By waiting until equipment fails to perform maintenance, there is a risk of unplanned production downtime due to damaged machinery.
The question companies should be asking is not what is reactive maintenance but rather the question of how to transition from a reactive to a proactive strategy to save time and money.
Why Organizations Should Not Only Rely On Reactive Maintenance
Reactive maintenance may appear to be an attractive strategy given that expenses only need to be paid when equipment is down. Unfortunately, this approach actually creates more expenses in the long-run. In addition to lost production time and the cost of parts and unexpected repairs, downtimes can cause a ripple effect on employee morale and customer satisfaction.
Proactive maintenance is an alternative strategy that focuses on performing routine maintenance checks on equipment so that machine breakdowns occur less frequently. By taking a proactive approach to maintenance work, the unexpected repercussions of equipment failure can be avoided. In fact, this proactive approach to maintenance is known to be three to four times less expensive than the less efficient reactive approach.
By investing in planned maintenance, you can maximize the efficiency of your employees by minimizing the time they have to spend responding to breakdowns. This results in a smoother operation with higher production and quicker turnarounds.
Advantages And Disadvantages Of Reactive Maintenance
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The primary appeal of the reactive maintenance approach is that there are fewer initial costs. Rather than investing in sustainable planned maintenance, costs only occur when machinery breaks down. Time and money do not need to be invested in equipment that is efficiently doing the job it is supposed to do.
Theoretically, the same principle can be applied to labor. Technicians do not need to spend time planning repairs as maintenance work is only needed when equipment fails. As breakdowns are unpredictable, planning time is an unnecessary factor.
Although there are theoretical advantages to reactive maintenance, in practice, the consequences of unplanned breakdowns can have a multipronged effect on production and performance.
For starters, when key equipment breaks, this can result in production downtime. If spare parts are not already available, technicians will spend additional time searching for the right parts and diagnosing then fixing the issue. All the while equipment is down, orders are delayed and reputation and revenue risk being negatively impacted.
What’s more, reactive maintenance can impact the life expectancy of machinery. Over time, machinery that is only repaired at the point of breakdown deteriorates faster than properly maintained equipment. Energy costs are also higher. Simple maintenance like changing filters can significantly reduce energy consumption and lower expenditure.
Even more worryingly, reactive maintenance puts your staff at greater risk. When they are under pressure to get machinery up and running after an unexpected breakdown, they have less time to review safety requirements. When employees are under pressure, they typically take more risks to speed up repairs.
Finally, emergency repairs tend to be prioritized over planned maintenance. This can lead to a backlog of work which can have a knock-on effect on the operation.
When you take these obstacles into account, the unexpected costs outweigh whatever might have been saved by making cuts on planned maintenance.
5 Actions To Reduce Reactive Maintenance
Given that the disadvantages of reactive maintenance outweigh the advantages, reducing the cost and time expended as a result of unplanned repairs is desirable. Here are some actions you can take to make the switch from reactive to proactive maintenance.
The first step to successfully making the transition away from reactive maintenance is to make sure that employees are on board with the changes. If the staff does not support the move away from reactive maintenance, the transition won’t run smoothly.
To make sure that everyone is on board, employees must be educated about the benefits of planned maintenance. The reasons for the switch must be made clear and everyone must be actively involved in developing the new maintenance gameplan.
By encouraging employees to identify areas that require improvement, they become contributors to the new and more efficient process. This is essential if you want to successfully nurture a change in maintenance culture within the working environment.
Preventive maintenance requires developing a proper maintenance plan. Emphasis should be placed on monitoring the conditions of equipment so that repairs can be made before an unplanned breakdown can occur.
By keeping the spare parts and the manuals to hand, the company can avoid unpredictable costs in the long-run. To ensure the transition is a success, there should be staff members on the team who have certifications in predictive maintenance technologies alongside the precision maintenance skills required to complete the work.
For maintenance work to run smoothly, communication between the maintenance and production team needs to be as strong as possible. Maintenance must be carried out ahead of when equipment is needed for production. This means the teams need to work closely to maximize efficiency and minimize downtime.
The operations team can also help the maintenance team by changing the way they operate the equipment. There are simple inspection and maintenance tasks that the operations team can carry out to free up time for the expert maintenance team.
A crucial factor in ensuring the success of maintenance strategies comes down to the strength and reliability of the core team. Members of the team must have the right skills and training to carry out maintenance efficiently. The team should create a 5-year plan to provide guidance and make improvements to the existing strategy.
Your core team will rely on the Asset Management System (AMS) and maintenance software to run error checks and ultimately set up an actionable failure analysis.
When failures occur, it is important to properly store the failure data. By storing the failure in validated fields, you can reduce failure analysis time by up to 90%. This data can then be used to create a failure mode that identifies the optimum maintenance program.