4 Equipment Maintenance Strategies – Which One Are You?

Published On: February 20, 2024Categories: Uncategorized

In today’s challenging economic landscape, businesses of all sizes and across different industries constantly evaluate their production costs and overall financial stability. One common knee-jerk reaction to economic uncertainties is to cut down on maintenance expenses. However, while this may provide short-term financial relief, it often results in significantly higher costs in the long run. To ensure sustained success, companies, whether in the trucking, manufacturing, or chemical industries, must take a close look at their maintenance programs and ensure they align with their financial and operational objectives.

As you may know, there are four fundamental maintenance regimes, each with its advantages and drawbacks: Reactive, Preventative, Predictive, and Proactive maintenance. In this article, we will explore these maintenance approaches, discussing their benefits and pitfalls while emphasizing the importance of informed decision-making regarding maintenance strategies.

  1. Reactive Maintenance: A Costly Gamble

Reactive maintenance, often described as the “fix it when it breaks” approach, is unfortunately all too common in many industries. A study conducted by GE Digital has revealed that 82 percent of companies have experienced unplanned downtime over the past three years. What’s worse is that these outages lasted an average of four hours and cost an average of $2 million. In fact, it is estimated that reactive maintenance can cost the average company 2-5 times more than a well-managed proactive program.

The frequency of the reactive maintenance can be attributed to factors such as limited resources and a lack of understanding regarding the true costs of unplanned downtime, not to mention the subsequent repair expenses. Hidden include greater repair costs, lost production time, and delays in order delivery, all of which contribute to customer dissatisfaction. While there are situations where run-to-failure is unavoidable or of little consequence, it is crucial to carefully evaluate all possible costs before opting to let equipment fail before fixing it.

  1. Preventative: The Essential Minimum

Preventative maintenance, often compared to regularly changing oil and filters in vehicles, should be considered the bare minimum necessary to extend equipment life. However, it is important to highlight that the quality of preventative care and the products used play a significant role in its effectiveness. Incorrectly performed preventative maintenance can sometimes be worse than no maintenance at all.

Common mistakes include using the wrong lubricants, leading to equipment failure. Maintenance personnel must receive adequate training to prevent contaminants, such as dirt and water, from being introduced with the correct product. When performed correctly, preventative maintenance offers advantages such as increased equipment lifespan, reduced unplanned downtime, and cost-effective repair costs.

  1. Predictive: Embracing Technology for Reliability

Gone are the days when managers had to endure sleepless nights worrying about critical asset failures due to aging or unexpected wear. Modern technology has introduced various tools for monitoring equipment health:

  • Ultrasound Equipment: Often referred to as the “Swiss Army Knife” of the reliability world, ultrasounds are affordable and efficient in identifying equipment issues. By detecting high-frequency sounds and converting them into audible signals, ultrasound equipment can monitor crucial components, including electric motor bearings, air leaks, and failing bearings.
  • Oil Analysis: Similar to how blood work assesses human health, oil analysis evaluates the condition of equipment and lubricants. It enables a shift from time-based maintenance to condition-based maintenance, identifying trends that may affect equipment health and allowing for timely intervention.
  • Vibration Monitoring: Vibration in equipment like compressors, electric motors, pumps, gearboxes, and rotating shafts can signal trouble. Vibration monitoring equipment can identify issues such as loosening, wear, misalignment, and imbalances.
  • Infrared Thermography: Certain heat levels are expected in most rotating equipment, but spikes in temperature can indicate problems like misalignment or wear.


  1. Proactive Maintenance: A Commitment to Reliability

Proactive Maintenance takes the prevention of failures to the next level. While it may require more upfront investment in time, money, and labor, it justifies itself through significantly improved reliability. This approach includes preventative and predictive maintenance while digging deeper into the information gathered.

Proactive Maintenance involves identifying sources of failures through root cause analysis and implementing methodologies, products, and training to prevent them from recurring. These measures include contamination control related to lubricant storage and handling, color-coding, and tagging to prevent the misapplication of lubricants and using reliable products to enhance redundancy and protection.

Looking for an efficient maintenance program?

Transitioning from a reactive maintenance approach to a proactive one may involve initial challenges and costs. However, the long-term benefits are substantial.

Mansfield Service Partners supports businesses in transitioning to efficient and cost-effective fuel and lubricant programs that will keep your systems working smoothly and running efficiently. Don’t wait for an equipment failure or a safety incident to react – call Mansfield today for a free consultation on the fuel and lubricants you use to keep your equipment running.

Contact us today to discover how we can help reduce equipment downtime and improve your bottom line.