Different Types of Maintenance [Complete Guide]

If you are looking to build an effective maintenance strategy, or to improve an existing one, the first step is understanding the different types of maintenance approaches you can leverage.

There are multiple techniques, methods, and tools used to streamline maintenance. Acknowledging which combination of maintenance approaches work best for your organization’s assets is the key to successful maintenance operations.

Many maintenance teams find challenging to have this discussion because some individuals refer to a given method using one terminology while others refer to it using a different name. For example, condition-based maintenance and predictive maintenance are considered the same for some and different methods by others.

This type of situation is typical when we’re talking about an industry that has been going through fast development. New technology tools are becoming more universal as more companies adhere to them.

To help you and your team get on the same page regarding the different types of maintenance and their particularities, we will go through each one of them here.


Proactive Maintenance VS Reactive Maintenance

All maintenance types fall within one of these two maintenance approaches: proactive maintenance and corrective maintenance.

A proactive maintenance approach is a strategy that focuses on identifying the root cause of asset problems before they become a more complex issue or equipment failure. The goal of this approach to maintenance management is to avoid unplanned downtime, decrease the risks associated with operating unreliable assets, reduce maintenance costs, and extend equipment lifespans.

There are multiple types of proactive maintenance that teams can leverage. These include:

  • Preventive Maintenance (Time-Based and Usage-Based)
  • Risk-Based Maintenance
  • Failure-Finding Maintenance
  • Condition-based Maintenance
  • Predictive Maintenance
  • Autonomous maintenance

These types of proactive maintenance should be chosen based on the asset types you have at your organization. There’s often a combination of some of these proactive maintenance approaches with some corrective maintenance as well.

A reactive maintenance approach is a response to assets’ issues to ensure production gets back to its normal operating conditions. In most cases, maintenance managers choose to avoid reactive maintenance. However, in some cases, a reactive maintenance approach is planned. That is because for some assets, it is more effective to fix or replace the asset than to avoid an issue.

The types of reactive maintenance include:

  • Corrective Maintenance
  • Run-to-failure maintenance
  • Emergency Maintenance

Let’s go more in-depth in each one of these maintenance types:

6 Types of Maintenance to Know Before Implementing a Strategy

Before we dive into the maintenance types, it’s important to note that the most cost-effective maintenance programs include a variety of maintenance techniques. Your organization might have assets running with PdM sensors to allow you to predict the next failures (a complex maintenance approach) while other assets are running on a run-to-failure approach because they can easily be replaced.

Let’s start with proactive maintenance types.

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Preventive Maintenace

Preventive maintenance is the most common type of maintenance. In this method, maintenance work is scheduled at regular intervals or periods of time.

The purpose of preventive maintenance is to protect assets against failure when you know that it becomes more likely to happen after a period of usage.

Preventive maintenance can be scheduled based on two different triggers: time or usage.

An example of time-based preventive maintenance would be to change the organizations’ HVAC unit’s air filters every three months.

When it comes to usage-based preventive maintenance, a good example would be having to change the oil of all company’s vehicles every 5,000 kilometers.

Preventive maintenance is one of the simplest maintenance types, therefore, one of the most used within organizations across all industries. However, it should be only a small part of the maintenance activities. That’s because over 70% of asset failures are non-age related.

It is key to note that in many industries, organizations must complete certain preventive maintenance activities based on time in order to comply with regulatory requirements.

Predictive Maintenance

This type of maintenance approach is one of the most complex proactive maintenance techniques as it requires the implementation of IoT sensors in the assets and the usage of modern CMMS software.

The goal of predictive maintenance is to leverage real-time asset data that comes from the sensors, combine it with historic data, and form predictive models. Through these predictive models, maintenance managers know when is the most optimal time to schedule maintenance in the future.

The predictive models are generated through CMMS artificial intelligence.

This maintenance approach has higher implementation costs than the average maintenance technique, but it empowers the maintenance team to put together a precise maintenance plan in advance.

This type of maintenance is recommended for critical assets or for cases that preventive maintenance has not been effective.

Condition-Based Maintenance

The methodology of condition-based maintenance (CbM) is very similar to predictive maintenance (PdM).

Just like predictive maintenance, condition-based maintenance leverages built-in sensors that monitor equipment performance in real-time. But different from PdM, condition-based maintenance is triggered when the measured parameters reach unacceptable levels or show any anomaly.

When this happens, the maintenance team must act immediately to adjust the machine before the failure happens.

With this powerful information provided by the maintenance software, maintenance technicians are able to address the exact maintenance needs of assets when they arise, before they get too complicated — which means not too much or too little preventive maintenance, which can have a serious impact on costs and productivity in both cases.

This type of condition-monitoring maintenance tends to be used when an organization needs to ensure a piece of equipment won’t fail in the short-term. So, if a critical equipment parameter is vibration, the organization can implement a vibration sensor that will indicate when vibrations begin to reach unsafe levels. This way, the equipment can run constantly and only receives maintenance when necessary.

These are the main types of maintenance that you need to know when putting together the proactive part of your maintenance strategy. However, it is also important to understand what are the reactive maintenance types and plan for some of them.

Let’s cover the particularities of the reactive maintenance types.

Corrective Maintenance

This is the most common type of reactive maintenance and the one maintenance managers are often trying to avoid.

Corrective maintenance is also known as unplanned reactive maintenance. In other words, any maintenance service that needs to be done in an asset that was not expected to break at that time.

However, there are different levels of corrective maintenance — it can be a simple fix after a part starts showing signs of failure or it can be a complete asset replacement.

Restoring the equipment to its normal operation often requires mechanics or technicians. In some cases, it requires the manufacturer’s help to repair the broken machinery, which may be expensive depending on the urgency and extent of the request.

Overall, corrective maintenance tends to be costly. That’s because apart from the direct costs associated with fixing or replacing the asset, there are indirect costs associated with downtime. In an industrial setting, an asset down for a few hours can represent significant losses on production, consequently on profitability.

Even though this maintenance type is unscheduled, it is important to have an action plan prepared for these moments of crisis. This means outlining the reactive maintenance processes for vital machines, training the team to react, and having spare parts available.

Run-to-Failure Maintenance

As the name implies, run-to-failure maintenance is a strategy that managers choose to let assets run without any sort of preventive maintenance until they fail.

Although this maintenance strategy is reactive in nature, it is a planned type of reactive maintenance. And contrary to what many believe, that is the most effective approach to some specific assets. Maintenance managers tend to leverage this approach when assets:

  • are easy to be replaced or fixed
  • have low replacement costs
  • can be repaired or substituted fast
  • downtime won’t affect operations

The planning part starts by understanding which assets fit in the criteria above. If the cost of having technicians performing preventive maintenance would be higher than the direct costs of replacing the asset and the indirect costs of operating without the asset, then you likely should allow the equipment to run to failure.

Another important aspect of planning for an RTF approach would be to guarantee that there will be sufficient resources available to substitute or repair the machine after it breaks down.

Emergency Maintenance

Emergency Maintenance is the ultimate maintenance type to be avoided, but also it is likely the most important type of maintenance an organization must plan for.

This maintenance approach is similar to corrective maintenance in the sense that it requires a last-minute response to the sudden failure of an asset, but it is more urgent as the failure threatens the health and safety of individuals in the building.

An example of a situation that would require emergency maintenance would be a chemical spillage in a manufacturing plant.

This sort of maintenance servicing, which occurs to eliminate risks to staff members and other individuals in the building, is dangerous to the maintenance team as well.

Top organizations work to ensure that less than 2% of their maintenance operations have an emergency character. That’s because it is not only dangerous but it also upsets operations and schedules, which typically throws everything into disarray.

Invest in a CMMS Solution to Guarantee Best Return

It can be overwhelming to decide which maintenance approach to use when there is not enough data to leverage. Each asset behaves differently, even when they have similar operational patterns.

In order to have a high-functioning maintenance strategy in place, you need to rely on a CMMS solution. Modern CMMS software, like Limble, offers one specific module for each maintenance type, along with some features designed to improve productivity.

The best part is that all assets data is integrated, organized, and translated into actionable steps for you and your team to follow.

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