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Preventive vs. Reactive Maintenance: What’s the Difference?

In facility management, most maintenance tasks are categorized as either “reactive” or “preventive.” It’s important to know the difference between the two, since the most successful facilities departments maintain a healthy balance between reactive and preventive maintenance. Too much reactive maintenance can leave your team feeling stressed and overwhelmed. This is why it’s important to create a program that emphasizes preventive maintenance (PM) and minimizes the potential for reactive maintenance.

In this blog, we’ll explain the difference between reactive maintenance and preventive maintenance and provide you with several resources to help you implement a strong PM program of your own. Let’s start by taking a look at the concept of reactive maintenance.

What is reactive maintenance?

A reactive approach to facility management requires something to go wrong or break down before the issue gains attention. When an asset malfunctions, a maintenance technician will identify the issue that occurred and take steps to restore the asset to operational condition.

While a “wait until it breaks” mentality may initially work for some, facility managers and their teams can become overwhelmed as backlogged maintenance issues begin to pile up. Repair costs can multiply when known issues go unaddressed. For example, a relatively insignificant repair can quickly worsen when left unaddressed. As a result, total repair costs increase significantly.

Reactive Maintenance at a Glance

  • Approach is crisis-based

  • Chaotic execution of work responsibilities

  • Frequent equipment failures

  • Unplanned downtime due to equipment failure

  • Delays in service and maintenance calls

  • Increased costs due to broken building components

  • Heavily people-dependent due to increased labor costs

Most money saved from reactive maintenance is negated, as it must be spent on unexpected breakdown repairs and parts replacements. Therefore, it’s a good idea to invest in a solid preventive maintenance program at your facility. Here’s how preventive maintenance differs from reactive maintenance.

Download the Facility Manager's Preventive Maintenance Toolkit

What is preventive maintenance?

Conversely, a preventive approach to facility management involves foresight and identifies a crisis before it happens. Real-time measurements are taken to predict system degradation and mechanical failure. As a result, negative consequences are minimized.

A preventive maintenance program may have contingencies in place in the event of a breakdown, such as backup generators for power outages or spare parts for immediate asset repair. Machinery is actively monitored and maintained to ensure optimal functionality. The most notable results of preventive maintenance are extended life of critical assets, reduced downtime and increased team productivity.

Preventive Maintenance at a Glance

  • Approach is preparation-based

  • Organized execution of work responsibilities

  • Fully functional equipment and building components

  • Longer life expectancy of critical equipment

  • Greater cost savings in maintenance

  • Improved worker and environmental safety

  • Faster response times to service and maintenance calls

  • Upgraded facilities and improved preventative maintenance

  • Detailed measuring/reporting of facility management metrics

  • Utilizes a facility management software (FMS)

Preventive maintenance offers a variety of benefits over reactive maintenance. Saving money is a big advantage, but an even greater one is knowing your team is safe on the job. Preventive maintenance reduces risk and danger in your facility, since dangerous equipment is constantly monitored, inspected and serviced. Safe equipment can lead to higher employee satisfaction and fewer workplace injury claims, a win-win for everyone involved. (Learn more about facility safety and security in our free ebook.)

Learn More about Preventive Maintenance

If your facility runs on a reactive approach to maintenance, it’s never too late to shift towards a more preventive approach. Start by downloading AkitaBox’s Preventative Maintenance Toolkit. This eBook covers how to collect facility and asset data, how to budget for a new preventative maintenance program, how facility inspections provide safer spaces for occupants and more. Get your free copy here.

Embrace Preventive Maintenance in Your Facilities Department

Do you still have a few pressing questions about preventive maintenance? Are you looking to create a plan that actually works? If so, AkitaBox is here to help. Our team of knowledgeable facility advisers is happy to answer any questions you may have. We’ll also work with you to identify tools and technology your team will need to be most successful as they adopt their new or improved PM program.

Click here to schedule a time to chat with one of our team members, or view a short video demonstration of how AkitaBox software can expedite the adoption of a preventive maintenance program. We look forward to speaking with you!

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