The key advantages of proactive vs. reactive maintenance

The key advantages of proactive vs. reactive maintenance

In almost any industry, accidents and malfunctions seem unavoidable. From broken machinery to faulty parts, the approach businesses take with regards to maintenance is a key strategy that is overlooked by many. By taking the time to consider the needs of your business, you could dramatically improve productivity while reducing long term costs.

What is proactive maintenance?

To define the proactive approach, it's easier to first look at what reactive maintenance involves. Many organisations deal with potential failures or defects by making the procedures and resources available to resolve the issue when it arises; to put it more simply, any repair completed after the failure occurs is reactive maintenance.

Proactive maintenance, on the other hand, focuses on a planned approach to asset upkeep. Under this strategy, work is undertaken on an ongoing basis to keep equipment and surrounding systems functioning at full capacity and reduce the risk of any unexpected failures. It's more than just a schedule of maintenance tasks — it involves careful planning of expenditure, resource allocation and long term goals.

Why is it important to consider the difference?

The fallbacks of a reactive maintenance strategy can be concealed by a number of reasons: to start with, it's difficult to predict repairs if you don't have the relevant preventative procedures in place. In turn, this can mask the impact the potential costs can have on your business in the future. On a similar vein, the cost of immediate repairs may even seem dismissible when considered as a once off, but can often add up to a long term sum that dwarfs the cost of a proactive approach.

"If it ain't broke, don't fix it!"

This phrase — uttered in its many forms — has become an easy way out for those that lack a carefully planned maintenance strategy. Proactive maintenance both reduces the likelihood of any reactive repairs and helps avoid other associated costs, as businesses relying on reactive maintenance are often paying for more than just immediate labour and parts. Other costs involved can include higher stock of spare parts; increased downtime; interruptions to productivity; postponing of work schedules; delay in customer orders and more.

Planning is key to finding the right balance for your business

One of the major reasons businesses fall into inefficient maintenance practices is a lack of planning. Don't let yourself avoid the issue due to a short-term mindset or a busy schedule — take the time to weigh up the costs associated with a proactive vs. reactive approach for your business, and you may find a way to reduce costs and increase overall efficiency going forward.

Published 11 March, 2016
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