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Too Many Fire Drills? How to Prevent Constant Reactionary Maintenance

The upfront benefits of reactive maintenance are straightforward, as short-sighted and “planning for the now” as they might be. Planned maintenance takes time to well… plan, as well as a predefined amount of time and resources to execute, which is money out of pocket for something that isn’t yet broken (or so it seems). It can appear more cost-effective in the short-term to take an “if it ain’t broke” approach, but don’t let that fool you. 

This fire-fighting strategy can work in specific instances, but in most cases facilities only do themselves a disservice if they’re not willing to agree to a planned maintenance strategy for their most crucial equipment.

In this blog, we cover the most apparent flaws in the reactionary maintenance philosophy as well as some ways your facility can move towards a more effective planned maintenance plan.

So What’s the Issue with Reactionary Maintenance?

It’s More Expensive Than You Think — Planned maintenance costs money, yes, but reactionary maintenance costs even more in the long run. When an emergency repair is needed, the speed at which parts and labor must be mobilized means you pay much more for the services than you otherwise would. If you’re not hitting the target goal of 20% or less total reactive maintenance for your facility, these emergency costs add up in a hurry.



Expect Lower Equipment Life Expectancy — If you’re not regularly maintaining equipment, at least at the minimum requirements as determined by the manufacturer, don’t expect your equipment to last at or longer than its estimated life expectancy. Two years of added equipment lifetime can often offset maintenance costs, but a reliance on reactive maintenance can negate that benefit.

You Get Blindsided — Emergency maintenance and reactive maintenance are called “emergency” and “reactive” for a reason. Equipment can fail at any time, and relying on reactive maintenance can leave you and your staff scrambling. If the equipment failure disrupts facility operations, especially at a critical time, this can lead to largely avoidable stress and reflect poorly on your facility management reputation.

By Contrast, What Are the Benefits of Planned (or Predictive) Maintenance?

While planned maintenance isn’t going to prevent 100% of equipment failures, it can dramatically reduce the amount of unplanned equipment downtime. Ultrasound tests, vibration tests, and infrared tests are all examples of maintenance methods that can quickly identify potential issues within your facility on your most vital equipment, often without disrupting facility operations in the process.

Aside from the benefits of avoiding frequent equipment failures and unexpected downtime, your maintenance staff can work within scheduled intervals of time. Unplanned work leads to work delays in other necessary areas, creating backlogs of work that don’t have to exist. When backlogs of work and unexpected projects hit employees consistently, they can quickly become frustrated — a frustration that often carries over to management.

Finally, planned maintenance sets up a safer work environment. When emergency maintenance is required, repairs must be done with little-to-no notice and at a frenetic pace, which can raise the risk of injury. On the other hand, preventative maintenance gives crews a chance to prepare for their work and study OEM requirements, giving them the time and knowledge to execute repairs more safely.

How Can I Get on the Right Track with a Planned Maintenance Plan?

If you’re not at the happy 20%-or-less reactionary maintenance goal, you can quickly take steps to create or improve your planned maintenance strategy. As you’re evaluating the effectiveness of your maintenance plan, here are some of the steps to consider:

  • Incorporate or change your CMMS software to help you keep up with maintenance tasks and review projects
  • Start budgeting more planned maintenance projects, especially for your most critical equipment
  • Prioritize equipment based on age (life expectancy from now) and the potential effects on facility operations in case that equipment fails
  • Determine if additional training for current staff or help from a third-party maintenance partner is necessary

By reviewing these steps, even on a quarterly basis, you’ll be in better position to keep your reactive maintenance levels healthy.

Use the right KPIs to keep track of facility health. Read the e-book to learn more.


Categories: Blog