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Why corrective maintenance could be costing your company more than you think

Asset management is a major cost for most companies. But could you be spending more than necessary? The type of maintenance model your company adopts can significantly impact your equipment performance and technical resourcing.

Many companies start with a corrective maintenance model, which deals with asset repairs and replacements on an as-and-when-needed basis. However, this might not be the best way to keep your equipment and facilities in good working order, or to optimise their lifespan.

Let’s take a deeper dive into the subject of reactive maintenance programmes and discuss:

  • What is corrective maintenance?
  • What are its disadvantages?
  • What’s the alternative to corrective maintenance?
  • What is the difference between preventative and corrective maintenance?
  • Which is the best approach for your company?

What is corrective maintenance?

All company equipment and facilities need some TLC from time to time. Corrective maintenance is the official term for identifying problems and repairing faults once they’ve occurred. It’s sometimes also referred to as reactive maintenance.

There are two types of corrective maintenance that take place in most companies:

Planned corrective maintenance: this scenario is when a repair or replacement job is scheduled later. Planned corrective maintenance tends to happen when your facilities management team carries out an inspection or work order and spot wear and tear on a non-essential object or component.

Planned corrective maintenance can also be used to manage non-critical equipment; assets where a run-to-failure model won’t affect company operations. Many companies use CMMS software to schedule planned corrective maintenance at a more convenient time once they’ve seen a problem.

Unplanned corrective maintenance: sometimes an asset or component will malfunction when you don’t expect it to, and it needs repairing right away. Unplanned corrective maintenance examples include small things like replacing lightbulbs through to major events like machine component failures.

Unlike breakdown maintenance, where non-operational items need repairing, assets requiring corrective maintenance are still functional or have built-in redundancies. However, leaving the issue unresolved could significantly impact your company operations and productivity or lead to the complete breakdown of equipment.

What are the disadvantages of corrective maintenance?

While the run-to-failure model is a traditional way of managing maintenance, it doesn’t always help your company to work productively. There are several disadvantages to adopting a corrective maintenance strategy, including:

  • Unplanned downtime and service interruptions: if an asset suddenly needs repairing, this could impact your overall workflow and cause production downtime.
  • Undue pressure on maintenance teams: if you’re not expecting downtime, corrective maintenance work will pressure maintenance and facilities management teams to work quickly. This pressure can raise people’s stress levels and affect their quality of work. Also, technicians are not looking for wider problems when carrying out planned work, which means critical issues get missed.
  • Planning and resourcing challenges: if your technicians have their work orders planned for the day and there’s an unplanned corrective maintenance issue, you’ll need to find alternative resources to fix it – or disrupt workflows and team effectiveness.
  • Inventory management issues: even if you’ve got staff available to fix a problem, you may not have the equipment. Preventative maintenance allows you to order inventory ahead of time, so you’re never held back by a lack of spare parts.
  • Asset lifespan and safety concerns: reactively responding to maintenance issues can shorten your equipment’s lifespan. The best way to keep it in good working order is to monitor and maintain it proactively. Also, if an asset breaks or fails, it could cause a significant safety issue.
  • Additional cost: replacing a component or equipment on-demand is usually more expensive than planned repair work. Plus, with unplanned corrective maintenance, you need to factor in the cost of downtime while the issue is urgently fixed.

What’s the alternative to corrective maintenance?

Many companies start with a run-to-failure model but look for a better approach to facilities management once they see the disruption that corrective maintenance can cause.

The natural next step from corrective maintenance is moving to a preventative maintenance model.

What is the difference between preventative and corrective maintenance?

In simple terms, corrective maintenance is reactive, while preventative maintenance is proactive. However, shifting from one approach to the other can deliver significant advantages.

Preventative maintenance work is planned as assets experience general wear and tear. Most equipment can be maintained through annual or bi-annual servicing. However, some assets are best managed based on their operational hours.

Preventative maintenance allows your business to schedule most maintenance and facilities management tasks in advance while keeping equipment in good running order. This model lowers the overall cost of asset management, makes workload more reliable and reduces costly unplanned downtime.

In addition, some companies use conditional monitoring to underpin preventative maintenance programmes. This monitoring identifies changes in equipment performance, which triggers further investigation.

If you’re using a CMMS solution like ShireSystem to manage your maintenance schedule, you can integrate regular data monitoring with your maintenance and facilities management plans to increase the accuracy of routing servicing and replacements. Increasingly, companies are also using analytics solutions such as PowerBI to review key performance indicators with management. Reliable metrics support strategic decisions such as maintenance resourcing: Chester Zoo uses ShireSystem to analyse workload against capacity and build a case for increasing team numbers, for example.

For more information on the differences between preventive and corrective maintenance, read our blog post: what is preventative maintenance, and how do you get the best results?

Preventative vs corrective maintenance: which approach is best for your company?

From our experience, many companies find preventative maintenance a simpler, more effective approach to maintenance and facilities management. With the added benefit of lowering maintenance costs by maximising performance and extending asset lifespans. However, you don’t need to move to a full preventative maintenance model immediately if it’s not a realistic objective for your company.

Some non-essential assets can remain on a run-to-fail schedule without impacting productivity when transitioning from corrective maintenance to preventative maintenance. The danger lies in relying on a break/fix model to manage your essential equipment.

If you’re running all your assets using a corrective maintenance plan, we urge you to consider changing your approach. Proactive management leads to fewer critical failures, which can only benefit your productivity and bottom line. However, the shift from reactive to proactive maintenance can always happen in stages.

Investing in ShireSystem CMMS software can help you to manage your transition to proactive maintenance and facilities management. Our technology empowers companies to build preventative maintenance programmes by centralising work orders, integrating scheduled and unscheduled requests, and tracking your technicians’ progress against critical asset management KPIs.

Book your free ShireSystem demo to see how our software helps companies manage corrective and preventative maintenance, and transition between the two approaches. 

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