The different types of maintenance strategies and how to choose them

August 24, 2023

| 3 min read

The different types of maintenance strategies and how to choose them

Predictive maintenance is rapidly gaining traction, sparked by advancements in the industrial internet of things (IIoT). Thanks in part to smart manufacturing technology, organizations can harness data and integrate with connected devices, enhancing maintenance. While it’s a trending solution, there are various other maintenance strategies suitable for organizations of all sizes. Let’s compare these types of maintenance to see which ones work best for different scenarios.

What are the 4 types of maintenance?

1. Reactive maintenance (breakdown maintenance)

Also known as breakdown or run-to-failure, reactive maintenance is pretty simple: fix things when they break. Since repairs are not planned, it’s a good method to employ on equipment that isn’t essential for operations or has a low cost.

Proactive vs. reactive maintenance: What’s the difference—and can they work well together?

Consider a belt feeder costing $1000. If servicing it every three months extends its life by 10%, you’d save $100. But how much effort should you invest in such a non-essential machine? Ideally, minimal.

While reactive maintenance needs little planning, its pitfalls can be major if mismanaged. Applying it universally can lead to production halts when crucial equipment breaks down. Without immediate access to necessary parts, expedited shipping costs can skyrocket. In essence, non-strategic reactive maintenance can result in increased downtime and steeper maintenance expenses.

Pros and cons of reactive maintenance chart

What’s the perfect amount of reactive maintenance?

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2. Preventive maintenance (scheduled)

Often termed as proactive maintenance, this approach entails periodically pausing the operation of assets for inspections or repairs based on set intervals, either time-based or event driven. The main objective here is to enhance the asset’s lifespan and ward off potential malfunctions.

Many enterprises harness the power of CMMS software to initiate work orders when maintenance is due. This offers automation to their scheduling process—a cornerstone of this preventive strategy. With proactive planning, ensuring the availability of necessary parts and resources becomes streamlined.

The short guide to preventive maintenance: Get your free guide now

However, like every maintenance strategy, preventive maintenance isn’t devoid of challenges. Without consistent oversight and updates, one might face “PM creep”—a situation where technicians are overwhelmed with redundant tasks, thereby draining organizational resources.

Overdoing preventive tasks might also pave the way for breakdowns after the maintenance. While there are strategies to counter this, the risk amplifies with increasing frequency of PMs. The essence is, when implementing a preventive maintenance program, it’s essential to dovetail it with continuous PM optimization.

Pros and cons of preventive maintenance chart

3. Predictive maintenance (PdM)

Predictive maintenance (PdM) foresees potential equipment failures by using machine sensors and advanced tech. For instance, a vibration-analyzing sensor might warn about an impending malfunction, prompting inspection and timely repair.

While visual checks are possible, a CMMS makes PdM more effective by tracking meter readings. PdM’s edge over preventive maintenance (PM) lies in potential cost savings, deeper machine insights, and maintenance decisions based on real-time equipment condition, not just estimations.

However, transitioning to PdM requires investment. Organizations relying on manual or basic digital records need to first embrace the preventive maintenance foundation to effectively harness predictive maintenance.

Pros and cons of predictive maintenance chart

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4. Reliability-centered maintenance (RCM)

Reliability-centered maintenance (RCM) acknowledges that equipment failure isn’t always predictable. It delves deep into analyzing each equipment’s potential failure patterns, crafting a tailored maintenance plan. The aim is heightened equipment reliability.

The intricacy of RCM lies in its individualistic approach. Assets are ranked by criticality—frequent failure risks or those with severe consequences get priority. Thus, an organization might end up with a unique maintenance strategy for each asset.

Reliability-centered maintenance failure modes chart: 3 generations

Given its sophistication, RCM isn’t for everyone. Only organizations with a seasoned maintenance team, adept in preventive and predictive measures and possessing extensive asset data, should consider adopting RCM.

Pros and cons reliability-centered maintenance failure modes chart

Maintenance management strategies comparison chart

Need a quick comparison of these four strategies? Check out the chart below for a quick rundown of each approach.

Strategy Summary Cost to Implement Pros Cons
Reactive Fix it when it breaks Low Ideal for low-priority equipment Can lead to runaway repair costs
Preventive Maintenance on a predetermined schedule Average Best strategy to implement without expertise Without optimization, “PM creep” can occur
Predictive Condition-based monitoring triggering work orders High Timely and informed monitoring. More insight into causes of breakdowns Can be expensive to set up
RCM Investigation of failure modes to determine best maintenance strategy Highest If executed properly, provides the most efficient maintenance schedule Requires time, skill and financial resources to be effective

How do you develop a maintenance strategy?

The bottom line, there is “no one size fits all” approach to maintenance. To develop a maintenance strategy, you have to evaluate and weigh the unique benefits and shortcomings of each strategy, depending on what assets you’re working with, what stage of the reliability journey your organization is at, and the impact of downtime at your facility.

Our recommendation on how to develop your maintenance strategy is to start where it makes sense for your circumstances and keep growing from there. Eventually, you’ll get to a place where you can use a balanced maintenance program that utilizes each method where it fits best.

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