No matter which industry you are in, if you work in maintenance, the goal is the same-to keep facility equipment, tools, and infrastructure in good shape and performing efficiently, and avoid unplanned downtime or equipment failure. Repair and maintenance enables us to achieve this.

What is the difference between repair and maintenance?

Repair and maintenance are used hand-in-hand, but they refer to different things in the asset management space. Repairs are restoration work for when an asset breaks, gets damaged, or stops working. Maintenance refers to routine activities and/or corrective or preventive repair done on assets to prevent damage and prolong the life expectancy. Examples include regular cleaning of air-conditioning units, grease traps, repainting, and routine inspections.

Levels of repair

The level of repair needed to be performed on an asset depends on the level of failure causing the asset’s malfunction. There are two basic types of equipment failure.

  • Partial failure

    The asset still functions, but at a lower capacity. There are also potential safety hazards. Corrective actions can get the asset back to good health and full functionality before the identified issue leads to complete failure.

  • Complete failure

    The asset has completely malfunctioned and can’t be used until it is repaired. The amount of resources needed to fix the issue will depend on the root cause of the failure.

    Equipment breakdowns can be very expensive, both in terms of fixing the issue and causing a delay or stoppage in production. Some failures are due to human error, unforeseen accidents, or the natural wear and tear of assets that happens over many years of use. With preventive maintenance, many of these situations can be avoided.

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Types of maintenance

Maintenance covers all maintenance work performed on assets. Examples of maintenance activities include visual inspections, functional checks, spare parts replacements, and installing a new asset in a facility.

There are many different maintenance strategies that you can mix and match, depending on your assets, industry, and the size and experience of your maintenance team. The four most common types of maintenance strategies are:

  • Reactive maintenance

    Also known as breakdown or run-to-failure, reactive maintenance is when assets get fixed as they break. Since repairs are not planned, it’s a good method to employ for equipment that is not essential for operations or has a low cost.

    While it requires minimal planning, the drawbacks of reactive maintenance can be substantial if it’s not carried out correctly. If the approach is used for all equipment, there can be huge delays in production when a critical piece of equipment fails. If you don’t have the right parts and supplies on hand, the costs for rushed shipping can become significant. In short, reactive maintenance often means more downtime and higher maintenance costs when it’s not used strategically.

  • Preventive maintenance

    Also known as proactive maintenance, this method involves taking assets offline and inspecting or repairing them at predetermined intervals (usually time or event-based triggers). This approach aims to extend the useful life of an asset and prevent breakdowns from occurring. Many organizations conducting preventive maintenance use CMMS software to trigger work orders when a PM is due. This allows a facility to automate the majority of its scheduling. Because planning is done in advance, it’s much easier to have the right parts and resources on hand to complete each task.

  • Predictive maintenance

    Predictive maintenance aims to predict failures before they happen so maintenance can occur at just the right time. It uses data from machine sensors and smart technology to alert the maintenance team when a piece of equipment is at risk of failing. For example, a sensor may use vibration analysis to alert the maintenance team that a piece of equipment is at risk of failing.

    Visual inspections of equipment can be done, but the easiest way to establish a predictive maintenance strategy is by using a CMMS to track meter readings. Data and sensor information means maintenance is determined by the actual condition of equipment, rather than a best-guess schedule or gut feel.

  • Reliability-centered maintenance

    Reliability-centered maintenance addresses the fact that failure is not always linear. This type of maintenance involves analyzing all the possible failure modes for each piece of equipment and creating a customized maintenance plan for each individual machine. The ultimate goal of RCM is to increase equipment availability or reliability.

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