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What is the Difference Between Planned and Reactive Maintenance? – Robinsonsfs

October 4th, 2018

Last updated: May 31st, 2023

Maintenance is the action taken to keep something running or in good condition, but in a commercial business there is great value invested in processes running correctly, and hence maintenance is a very important factor. In this guide, we’re helping you to understand planned vs. reactive maintenance, and the pros and cons of a PPM schedule.

Businesses rely on processes and equipment operating effectively and efficiently and breakdowns can be costly in terms of repairs, but also in terms of lost production or revenue, wasted man hours and loss of reputation.

Maintenance also contributes to the longevity of processes and equipment, so in simple terms, if you look after something it works for longer. And in a business sense, if you have invested capital in machinery or equipment, it is important that you maintain its condition to operate at its maximum capability, which will ultimately mean that you will see a return on your investment much quicker, ie. the savings or additional sales you predicted to justify the investment, will arrive much sooner.

Maintenance is important to commercial businesses, and a failure to carry out important tasks can be very expensive. In this respect, there are two types of maintenance, which differ quite significantly; planned and reactive maintenance. At Robinsons Facilities Services (RFS) we would always recommend planned maintenance, also referred to as planned preventative maintenance.

What is Planned Maintenance?

Planned maintenance is work that is scheduled and agreed upon to be carried out on equipment over a specific period, for this example let’s say a year.

This means that over a 12 month period you can schedule work to be done on equipment every three months or every six months, to ensure parts are replaced, cleaned and tested. In other words, you know when your equipment will be ‘down’ and can plan around it. Effectively, this means that a scheduled stop on a routine basis prevents an unscheduled stop at any time that you can’t predict.

Examples of planned maintenance that many of us do in our own homes include getting a boiler service. A commercial boiler service can be scheduled regularly, so you don’t have to think about it too much, and you can ensure that the boiler is running at its maximum potential.

Services and planned checks also means that parts we know can wear or get clogged up can be replaced or cleaned before they become a problem that can lead to a breakdown. This not only prevents costly downtime, but ensures the equipment runs smoothly and at peak performance.

It also means that we can accurately budget for our maintenance costs and we can predict what replacement parts will be needed and keep a stock of these with easy access.

Potential benefits of planned maintenance include:

  • Longer lifespan of equipment
  • Ensuring your compliance with legal regulations
  • Potentially improved energy efficiency
  • Better air quality within the workplace
  • Peace of mind regarding breakdowns
  • Saved costs in the long run
  • Better operating conditions

What is Reactive Maintenance?

Reactive maintenance is attending to issues only when they occur. This is also called breakdown or emergency maintenance. It is sometimes viewed as leaving things in the lap of the Gods and keeping your fingers crossed that nothing will go wrong, but effectively, you aren’t in control. If you follow a reactive maintenance philosophy you can’t predict when things will go wrong, you don’t know if you will have the knowledge or skills to fix them and you don’t know if you will have the replacement parts availability.

While there are several types of reactive maintenance (including breakdown, corrective and emergency), they all essentially await something to go wrong before reacting.

To a business, reactive maintenance can be costly and while unforeseen problems can always happen and equipment failure can’t always be predicted, even under a planned maintenance programme, it is always better to do everything you can to prevent known problems that are likely to occur.

There may also be some issues regarding health and safety legislation and your responsibility to provide a safe workplace for your employees. If you fail to do so, you could even end up getting fined or facing legal action.

This is not scaremongering, but a real example of what can happen in a workplace and all the more reason to understand the differences between reactive and planned maintenance. If you fail to get your air conditioner serviced or your ducts cleaned, it can be a hotspot for mould and mildew. This is an example of how failing to consider planned maintenance can actually lead to a hazardous situation. Under the Health and Safety at Work Act there are grounds for legal action.

A Good Example of Planned Maintenance

In order to illustrate the difference between planned and reactive maintenance, you only have to look at a car. Filling the car with petrol, water and oil may seem like an obvious thing to do, but this is in fact planned maintenance – we don’t want the car not to start! In addition, we have the car periodically serviced to check the brakes, exhaust and motor etc, but if we didn’t do this we would run out of petrol and the car would seize up, leading to a costly and frustrating way to live, it could even lead to potentially hazardous situations.

Examples such as servicing your car and your home boiler are relatable. In a workplace, though, you might have dozens of different areas to consider, and things that need servicing, from fire alarms to kitchen ventilation.

The machines and equipment used in commercial businesses work on the same principle. Planned maintenance can be complex and requires skilled and qualified staff, but it allows us to be organised and to plan ahead with knowledge and confidence. Hence, Robinsons Facilities Services will always recommend planned maintenance and we can talk to you about your business, your equipment and what we can do to keep you running and your maintenance costs down.

For more information on our planned maintenance and reactive maintenance services, or to discuss how we can build a maintenance schedule to suit your business, please contact us.

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