Convincing Reasons to Reduce Your Reactive Maintenance

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Reactive maintenance is a major drain on efficiency, running time, and costs. You probably know this, but what are you doing to avoid it?

And, how much reactive maintenance are you actually performing as opposed to companies that are in the top-quartile for performing the least reactive maintenance?

By moving to more preventive, predictive, and conditions-based maintenance, you can

For example, in 2010 the US Department of Energy claimed that returns of conditions-based maintenance included 10x return on investment; 25-35% reduction in maintenance costs; 70-75% reduction in breakdowns; 35-45% reduction in downtime; and a 20-25% increase in production. Sounds pretty good, no? Or how about this Jones Lang LaSalle report showing that not only does an investment in preventive maintenance pay for itself, but that in fact it results in an average 545% return on investment (wow!).

How much reactive maintenance should you be performing? Our friends at the University of Tennessee’s Reliability & Maintainability Center (RMC) suggest 10%, plus or mine 5% either way. That amount of reactive maintenance would put your organization in what they refer to as the “top quartile” when it comes to reactive maintenance activity. Likewise, they recommend your organization’s preventive maintenance rate be about 70% if you want to hit that same top quartile.

In this article, we’ll give you a convincing list of just SOME of the reasons why your organization should reduce the amount of reactive maintenance you perform (and yes, we think our maintenance training solutions may help you reach this goal of reduced reactive maintenance).

Decrease Your Reactive Maintenance Activities for These Reasons (and More)

Want to benchmark the amount of reactive maintenance your organization performs? Quoting data from our friends at the University of Tennessee’s Reliability and Maintainability Center again, in the US the top quartile is performing about 9% reactive maintenance; the average organization is at about 31% reactive maintenance; and the bottom quartile is at about 62% reactive maintenance.

How much reactive maintenance does your organization perform? What do you stand on this benchmark?

No matter the answer, here are some reasons to reduce your reactive maintenance rate even more.


  • There is almost always a direct relationship between safety and predictive maintenance (and follow-up results). This can be measured with OSHA incident rates decreasing as predictive & preventive maintenance increase. In fact, some suggest safety is your best KPI for maintenance.
  • Overall equipment effectiveness, or OEE, increases as reactive maintenance decreases.
  • Emergency repairs & reactive maintenance may cost as much as 3-6 times as much as planned maintenance.
  • Reactive maintenance is more likely to lead to machine downtime. This can lead to costs that are 15-20X more than the costs of planned maintenance.
  • Unplanned repairs aren’t just inconvenient and costly, they are often harder and take more time as well (leading to further additional costs).
  • During emergency, reactive maintenance, technicians are less likely to be precise in their work due to time constraints and pressures. This might mean that proper torques, tensions, and tolerances at operating temperatures are not met, all of which may lead the machine to ultimately fail again sooner.
  • When performing high percentages of reactive maintenance, your backlog is likely to increase because you’ll be forced to use parts originally acquired for other purposes.
  • Better maintenance practices, including lower rates of reactive maintenance, are directly related to lower energy costs.
  • Increased reactive maintenance makes planning and scheduling more difficult, and schedules have to be revised again and again (another expense).
  • Reactive maintenance data is more often not entered into an organization’s maintenance computer system and therefore is not scrutinized and analyzed more closely.
  • Relying on reactive maintenance instead of preventive maintenance leads to increases in variability and equipment performance, which in turn leads to lower quality.
  • Higher rates of reactive maintenance can lead to higher costs for parts, since your organization is more likely to have to pay for urgent shipments of parts than you would have to if your maintenance activities were planned out further in advance.
  • Starting and stopping complex machines and systems to perform reactive maintenance increases the chances of introducing additional issues that will harm reliability and productivity.
  • What do you think? Are those reasons enough to begin reducing the amounts of reactive maintenance your organization performs? How much reactive maintenance DOES your organization perform? Which quartile would you put yourself in?

See Twenty Reasons to Stop Firefighting by Dr. Klaus Blache in Efficient Plant magazine, the source of these figures, for more on this.

Before you go, why not download our free guide to selecting online manufacturing training? 

 

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Jeffrey Dalto

Jeffrey Dalto

Jeffrey Dalto is an Instructional Designer and the Senior Learning & Development Specialist at Convergence Training. He's worked in training/learning & development for 25 years, in safety and safety training for more than 10, is an OSHA Authorized Outreach Trainer for General Industry OSHA 10 and 30, has completed a General Industry Safety and Health Specialist Certificate from the University of Washington/Pacific Northwest OSHA Education Center and an Instructional Design certification from the Association of Talent Development (ATD), and is a member of the committee creating the upcoming ANSI/ASSP Z490.2 national standard on online environmental, health, and safety training. Jeff frequently writes for magazines related to safety, safety training, and training and frequently speaks at conferences on the same issues, including the Washington Governor's Safety and Health Conference, the Oregon Governor's Occupational Safety and Health Conference, the Wisconsin Safety Conference, the MSHA Training Resources Applied to Mining (TRAM) Conference, and others.

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