Choosing a suitable cost-effective maintenance plan for your company

Maintenance – a word that sparks a sense of uneasiness and tediousness, yet something that any business needs to see to every now and then. Be it a computer that is not running properly, or a machine that breaks down, maintenance is basically a normal business operation and it needs to be seen to from time to time. Replacing, restoring, fixing, reinstalling, and various other tasks are involved in the maintenance routine. The main goal is to ensure that the particular asset can be preserved from failure or breakdown, so as to continue to make use of it.

In this field, there are two main viewpoints. There are those who feel that it is best to fix a problem when it arises. That is the approach advocated by Reactive maintenance. Then, there are those who prefer to think ahead and carry out some maintenance procedures to prevent the machine from failing or breaking down. This is Proactive or Planned Preventive Maintenance. Both these maintenance approaches have their advantages and disadvantages and there is no way where one can say that one is better than the other in all respects.

Understanding the pros & cons

Reactive maintenance is carried out when a need arises, or when a certain fault is identified. The main goal in such a case is to try to resolve the issue as soon as possible as in the meantime operations such as production may end up being halted to the breakdown or fault. There might be way to continue operating, but in most cases there will be a loss in productivity, efficiency and sometimes in sales involved. So response and repair times are critical aspects of reactive maintenance. Having said that, reactive maintenance is an approach that is preferred by some organizations nonetheless. Many feel that there is no need to spend time and money on carrying out assessments for nothing, as generally faults or problems identified during a proactive maintenance assessment are minimal.

Reactive Maintenance Impact. Image credit: Blogspot

Speaking of a proactive maintenance approach, it is important to point out that this will be carried out by establishing a plan. This will include a schedule where specific pieces of equipment are evaluated or assessed so as to check if any components or parts need to be replaced, and if there are any problems that need to be resolved before they get worse. The purpose is obviously to predict problems so as to prevent them from actually occurring. In such a scenario, should there be a problem, it will generally be a small and manageable one. There would also be the advantage of not having to go through the pressure and limited time to try to fix it. Repairs and replacements can be done at ease, or scheduled to be carried out at a later date by a skilled person.

Abnormality Reporting is the Key to Proactive Maintenance. Image credit: Maintenance Phoenix

With a proactive maintenance approach you will be able to have more peace of mind and fewer disruptions. If regular checks are carried out chances are that you will not be encountering serious problems. Quick fixes are generally all that will be required, and so there is no need to disrupt workers and operations due to large problems or breakdowns.

There is thus a lower risk associated with proactive maintenance, and naturally this is conducive to a safer and better working environment. It is also important to note that when equipment is maintained regularly it will be running optimally, and often there will be energy savings associated with this. However with preventive maintenance there is often a great deal of planning involved, as well as the risk of spending up more money due to over maintenance. There is more money and more work involved too to lead such regular inspections.

Therefore there are clearly pros and cons associated with each method of maintenance. For those who are not sure which approach is most feasible and effective for their business, here are some tips to help you make a good choice. Reactive maintenance is generally suitable when it can be performed on components which are somewhat easy to replace or inexpensive. So if your business does not have high-tech machines and most maintenance can be carried out without worrying about collateral damage or safety issues, then reactive maintenance should suffice. Reactive maintenance is also suitable for those businesses that cannot plan a preventive maintenance schedule due to high costs or a lack of feasibility. On the other hand, with a preventive or predictive approach, you will have the advantage of improving the efficiency and life expectancy of your assets, as well as anticipating problems before they actually occur. You benefit from improving your reliability thanks to assets that are almost always running in proper conditions. However, there are still going to be cases where you will need to fix a machine there and then, despite all the planning and costs involved with your predictive maintenance schedule. So in some cases predictive maintenance may prove to be costly and rather unfeasible. At the end of the day you will need to make a decision based on what seems to be best for your business in terms of costs and practicability.