Corrective Maintenance

Everything you ever needed to know about corrective maintenance

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What is corrective maintenance?

There are a few similar descriptions that are thrown around. Still, the essence is this – corrective maintenance refers to any maintenance task performed to restore equipment, machine, or a system to proper working order.

Corrective maintenance is performed:

  • To resolve an issue spotted while doing other maintenance work
  • When a machine operator spots an issue with the asset that needs to be corrected
  • After condition-monitoring sensor sends an alert about a performance issue
  • After a machine breakdown

In an ideal scenario, the majority of your corrective maintenance work would focus on correcting minor issues on (partially) functional equipment, not addressing full-blown breakdowns.

Looking at the definition alone, you might ask: Isn’t corrective maintenance just another one on the long list of synonyms for reactive maintenance (like breakdown and run-to-failure maintenance)?

While they are similar, we would argue they do not describe the same thing.

For instance, if someone would ask you which maintenance strategy you are using, then the better answer would be reactive maintenance. This is because corrective maintenance represents a type of maintenance action you are doing and is used as a part of every maintenance strategy.

Guide to Moving from Reactive to Preventive Maintenance

Want to transition away from costly reactive maintenance but don't know where to start? This guide has everything you need to know.

Types of corrective maintenance

Before we go on to discuss how to efficiently use it, we’ll take a short stop to look at a couple of different ways corrective maintenance tasks can be classified.

Immediate vs deferred corrective maintenance

This subdivision is based on when the corrective actions are taken in relation to when the problem or failure was detected.

Immediate corrective maintenance refers to corrective actions that take place immediately after failure. For example, a technician spots an issue during routine work and immediately corrects it.

Deferred corrective maintenance refers to corrective actions that are postponed/scheduled for later. There are many reasons why corrective maintenance might be deferred such as:

  • Technicians are needed on a higher-priority case
  • Replacement parts are not available
  • You need to call out a specialist to perform needed corrective actions

You can learn more about deferred maintenance here.

Planned vs unplanned corrective maintenance

People like to think that reactive maintenance represents the lack of a maintenance plan, but that is not always the case.

Not all assets are worth putting on a preventive or predictive maintenance program. Sometimes, you consciously decide to let a machine run to failure and schedule corrective action when the failure occurs. This is what you would call planned corrective maintenance. It can be applied to low-priority assets or those that have high fault tolerance.

Unfortunately, things are not always going according to plan. Unexpected breakdowns that need to be resolved as soon as possible are the reality for many businesses. These scenarios require sudden corrective actions to be performed to return the assets to operation. Hence the unplanned corrective maintenance.

Benefits of doing corrective maintenance the right way

Having an optimized corrective maintenance process brings along multiple benefits such as:

  • Reduced duration of both unplanned and planned maintenance
  • less emergency maintenance work as many minor problems can be corrected before they lead to functional failures; this also extends asset lifespan
  • Corrective maintenance can be used to help keep assets in a good operating condition which creates a safer work environment

The goal of every maintenance team is to be fast and effective, especially when dealing with unexpected breakdowns and machine malfunctions. That is reason enough for every maintenance department to take a closer look at how they are doing corrective maintenance.

How to efficiently use corrective maintenance

If you heavily rely on reactive maintenance at your organization, you must develop a pragmatic corrective maintenance workflow.

Being effective at doing corrective maintenance means that:

  • Machine operators and other employees have a quick and easy way to report problems
  • Technicians that are doing the work have quick access to all necessary information (like problem description, asset history, OEM instructions…) to perform corrective actions
  • You have an efficient way to schedule and monitor the progress of all maintenance tasks, as well as the ability to manage task priority
  • You have an open communication line so pertinent information can be easily communicated between different team members

Even if you are running a proactive maintenance strategy, doing some corrective tasks from time to time is an unavoidable reality. So for everybody’s sake, let’s explore how you can extract the most value out of corrective maintenance and how a CMMS can support these efforts.

#1) Minimize the need for corrective actions in the first place

Some level of corrective maintenance will always be needed. Regular wear and tear is unavoidable and has to be dealt with. What you can do is focus on preventing major breakdowns and manage factors that contribute to machine deterioration.

You can do that by:

  • Not pushing machines beyond their limits
  • Using recommended spare parts and materials for routine maintenance
  • Only using recommended inputs in the manufacturing process
  • Implementing autonomous maintenance or condition-monitoring technology so the issues are spotted sooner rather than later

#2) Streamline the ticketing process

If you want to ensure that all of the corrective actions are addressed promptly, you need a system where employees have an easy way to submit a ticket, while the maintenance team has an easy way to oversee and manage it.

For those that track everything manually, you generally have a couple of viable options:

  1. Set up a Work Request Box people can use to drop off work request tickets. Someone from the maintenance team can be appointed to frequently check the box and assign them according to their priority.
  2. Appoint one person on the maintenance team that is a point of contact for all requests. He or she can proceed to filter them out according to their priority and set up a simple maintenance ticketing system using spreadsheets.

If you don’t have this process laid out, your maintenance technicians will end up in a situation where they will start to receive work request phone calls in the middle of other important work. This will not only slow them down but will also cause unnecessary friction. Not to mention how issues submitted only through word of mouth (without a paper or digital trail) can easily get forgotten and left unattended.

Just think about how many big problems are the direct consequence of small issues that were not taken care of in time, and you’ll quickly realize why this is so important.

How to streamline ticketing with CMMS
If you have a maintenance software that offers a work request portal, any employee at your organization can use it to quickly and easily submit a maintenance request. To make things even smoother, this process can be optimized even further with QR codes.

For illustration, here’s how a work request system is implemented in Limble:

While the mentioned ticketing systems can still work, it is not rare that tickets get lost and duplicated, which can bring a lot of frustration to everyone involved and prolong costly downtimes. The digital way of tracking and submitting work requests is vastly superior.

#3) Tune your workflow

It doesn’t matter if the problem is found during a regular inspection or a maintenance technician goes off-site to take care of a submitted work request. Knowing what he needs to do and having vital information on hand will significantly speed up their work.

Here are some things you can do to ensure the quality and speed of any corrective maintenance process:

  • Teach everyone how to properly describe the problem and submit the work request, as well as what are the additional valuable information they can leave that might be useful to technicians
  • Ensure that technicians have access to OEM recommendations, asset history logs, fault patterns, and any other information they might require
  • create a set of standard maintenance procedures technicians can follow when dealing with complex assets
  • set up maintenance checklists for common corrective tasks
  • ensure that necessary spare parts are in stock so that the technicians don’t have to improvise solutions out of thin air

Last but not least, you should also make sure that your technicians are properly trained for the tasks assigned to them. Otherwise, doing everything we just mentioned will be futile.

How to tune your workflow with CMMS
There are many different ways in which mobile CMMS can optimize your workflow, but we will focus on the things that affect how you perform corrective tasks.

Here’s just a short snippet of useful features a modern CMMS can provide in this context:

  • quick access to maintenance logs and reports for every asset
  • centralized asset card that provides a quick way to find any available information about the asset at hand (like OEM recommendations, fault patterns, maintenance procedures, and checklists)
  • spare parts management system helps you control your inventory so you never run out of replacement parts

Besides everything mentioned, a computerized maintenance management system also improves your scheduling and communication, which we will discuss next.

#4) Manage scheduling

If you’d go on to survey well-run maintenance departments, we bet you’d find that one thing they have in common is a clearly defined maintenance strategy supplemented with an efficient way to manage maintenance schedules.

First, let’s overview the information you want to have available at all times is:

  • List of active (in-progress) corrective tasks
  • List of corrective tasks that still need to be scheduled
  • Which technicians are assigned to which corrective tasks
  • Who is free to cover corrective tasks that still need to be scheduled and when (which infers that the person giving the assignments has to be generally aware of the schedule of everyone on their maintenance team)

If you aren’t technical, having a large whiteboard to serve as a job board can give you a decent overview of needed information (when running a small maintenance team).

Larger teams have to employ some technology with a centralized database if they hope to have any chance to stay in control of their work and operational costs. MS Outlook, combined with different spreadsheets, was an early solution. Still, with the increased availability of computerized maintenance systems, there’s little reason to continue trying to “get by” using those outdated methods.

One problem that you will often face, disregarding how you schedule and track corrective work, is the priority problem. As maintenance managers have to operate with limited resources, some corrective tasks will have to be delayed or rescheduled. While this can be tackled on a case-to-case basis, it’s also not a bad idea to assign different levels of priority to your assets, so everyone immediately knows which corrective tasks take precedence.

How to improve scheduling with CMMS
According to this research we’ve done last year, maintenance scheduling was one of the most requested features in a CMMS.

That didn’t surprise us because CMMS systems were initially developed to help you track and manage maintenance work.

This means that they allow you to digitize your maintenance scheduling. The only thing you need to do beforehand is to add assets and maintenance technicians to your software.

After that, you can effectively assign corrective tasks to free technicians, track the work progress, reassign technicians to other jobs or reschedule the work as you see fit – all of it with just a few clicks.

For more info on how CMMS improves your scheduling capabilities, be sure to read our in-depth step-by-step guide on how to create a preventive maintenance plan.

#5) Ensure proper communication channels

No matter how hard you try, you will never be able to come up with a set of procedures that will work for everyone, in any situation. Additional information will have to be shared on the fly.

On top of that, you shouldn’t forget that corrective tasks are not only a problem for your maintenance team. People working with assets that are waiting to be repaired also need to be updated on the progress of maintenance work.

Imagine a situation in which the maintenance manager didn’t notify the line manager that the technician is coming in. If a maintenance guy just randomly shows up to fix something, there’s a decent chance he will have to sit around for 20 minutes until the production stops or space is cleaned and ready for him to start. We can all agree that this is inefficient.

Making sure everyone is on the same page means that you need to have a clear line of communication between everyone that is in some way affected by the corrective work that needs to be performed. Let them know what is wrong and how long it will take to fix the problem so that you can schedule work with minimum overlap.

How mobile CMMS opens up lines of communication
For this particular section, we wanted to focus on mobile CMMS because that mobility is what enables real-time communication.

We cannot speak for other CMMS providers, but if you are using Limble, here’s what you can do:

  • Use work request portal to submit tickets and track its progress (which minimizes unnecessary requests for updates that slow everyone down)
  • Quickly communicate task priority changes with your maintenance team through in-app and email notifications
  • Everyone with access to the tool can leave comments and pictures on specific work orders, which is often used by maintenance technicians to collaborate on complex issues from remote locations

Data gathered from our clients suggests that using our Android and IOS mobile apps improved their organization, communication, accountability, and productivity by 30%.

If you are interested in giving Limble CMMS a try, you can:

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Corrective maintenance examples

Before we call it a day, let’s discuss a few examples of corrective maintenance and see how it is applied in practice.

Example #1 – After asset breakdown

This is the most basic and common example of corrective maintenance action.

Let’s imagine you are running a production facility. One machine breaks down, and the whole production line stops. You send for someone on your maintenance team to inspect and fix the problem. The technician listens to the problem description, performs an inspection to see if it is a mechanical or electrical fault. He finds the faulty part and replaces it – which puts the asset back into the condition to perform its intended function.

The technician analyzed an unexpected breakdown, isolated the problem, and made the necessary corrections – in other words, and he performed unplanned corrective work.

Example #2 – Problem noticed during preventive maintenance work

For this example, let’s imagine a maintenance technician performing a scheduled maintenance task that consists of an oil change and a visual inspection. While doing that, he notices that one bearing is worn out and needs to be replaced. There were spare bearings in stock, so he can perform the replacement right away – doing, what we could call, immediate corrective maintenance.

Example #3 – Sensors show out-of-limit misalignment

For the last example, let’s put ourselves in the shoes of a maintenance manager that has all of his essential asset on a condition-based maintenance program. That means he retrofitted all critical assets with sensors to monitor the condition of his machines in real-time.

If you are considering implementing condition monitoring sensors at your facility, be sure to check out our modular IoT sensor setup that solves the problem of complicated and costly installations.

For this example, we will throw around some arbitrary numbers.

After some time, a wireless sensor mounted on a rotating shaft of a pump signals that the shaft is out of alignment for 5 millimeters. In comparison, the safe operational conditions allow for only up to 3 millimeters of misalignment. This indicates that some corrective actions have to be scheduled as soon as possible.

Now, keep in mind that the equipment failure didn’t happen yet. The pump still performs as intended, but the loss can occur at any moment, which poses high cost and safety risks. Luckily, the technicians can immediately disassemble the pump and perform corrective actions – be it a simple tightening of loose parts or replacing cracked ones.

This example illustrates how you perform corrective maintenance on assets that didn’t yet reach functional failure. While failures are still the most common trigger of corrective maintenance, the increased use of condition-monitoring equipment and predictive analytics opens the door for other types of triggers.

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Staying ahead

No organization can eliminate corrective maintenance from their organization, but that shouldn’t stop you from reducing the number of unplanned corrective actions by employing proactive maintenance measures.

We hope that this guide will help you optimize your corrective maintenance process so you can properly handle unexpected work and speed up planned corrective tasks.

As always, if you have any questions, feel free to jump to the comment section or send us a message directly through our contact form.

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