Dan Roberge, President, Maintenance Care

Proactive maintenance and reactive maintenance may sound similar, but while they are not polar opposites, each is a way of performing maintenance that differs greatly.

A paper published in the Reliability and Maintainability Symposium (RAMS) showcases that these are the two basic approaches.  While neither will eliminate downtime, proactive maintenance helps minimize it while also ensuring that you are covering required compliance related to your facility.

What is proactive maintenance?

Proactive maintenance has a variety of names, such as preventative maintenance, scheduled maintenance and planned maintenance. Many long-term care and nursing facilities do have a preventative maintenance plan that includes regular intervals of scheduled tasks. While it is important that all capital equipment at your facility is maintained, it is also critical that you are in compliance with applicable life safety and fire regulations and federal, state, and local building codes to ensure a safe, comfortable environment.

Compliance should cover all of the physical environment at your facility.  This would include all utility systems, egress, build environment, fire and life safety protection, suppression systems, hazardous waste and materials and any other general requirements as set out in above regulations or codes.

What is reactive maintenance?

Reactive maintenance is quite different in how it is executed. Corrective maintenance, breakdown maintenance or reactive maintenance is where tasks will come in from staff within your facility to be corrected. For example, a bed is no longer able to move a resident or patient into a sitting position, or the toilet is not flushing in a resident or patient room, etc.

While you will never completely move away from reactive maintenance, being able to act and correct quickly will allow the inconvenience to a resident or patient to be minimized.

Balance is key

The best type of maintenance creates a good balance of both proactive maintenance and the necessary reactive maintenance, since you cannot always plan for some emergencies. A 75/25 balance is ideal but the lower the reactive maintenance, the better.

While you may have covered off some of the required inspections in your proactive maintenance, anything with moving parts will always be susceptible to breakdown and repair. Allotting a certain amount of time to this type of maintenance is a good idea, keeping in mind that a good proactive schedule will minimize the above.

The advantages of proactive maintenance

Proactive maintenance comes with a plethora of benefits that are advantageous to facilities, maintenance departments, plants and any place that has equipment and/or takes care of maintenance duties.

  • Efficiency. Your facility will run more efficiently and reduces energy consumption and cost.
  • Assets. Asset life is extended by taking better care of equipment within your facility, thus lowering capital costs.

  • Downtime/Inconvenience. Downtime and inconvenience to resident or patient are reduced, which leads to less time lost and lower costs due to anything non-operational.

  • Repairs. Those repairs on a larger scale are decreased, which saves time and money. This also leads to more insight into what caused the issue in the first place.

  • Budgeting. Budget control is easier to handle with a better grasp on spare parts you may inventory and cost of labor.

  • Compliance. Ensuring that life safety and fire regulations and federal, state, and local building codes are compliant.

  • Strategies. A better idea of what needs work and which may need replacing, and minimal downtime/inconvenience allows for better maintenance strategies. Know what works and what needs focus and change.

  • Customer service. With better planning, less downtime and everything running more efficiently, your service is improved.

  • Reports. Reports are more streamlined when proactive maintenance is a strategy. Know when it is time to do preventative maintenance and plan the schedule accordingly.

Becoming more proactive

Once you realize that proactive maintenance is the priority, the next step is to implement the changes and that takes a couple of processes that are important to see it succeed.

First, you have to ensure that your most important proactive tasks take precedence and get completed first. Through use of a CMMS software program, assign tasks by the metrics needed such as daily maintenance, weekly maintenance, and so on.

While this works in theory, there are going to be times where reactive maintenance is at the forefront of the workday, and that is fine. No facility or department can be 100% proactive because let’s face it, accidents do happen and things breakdown, even when it is fully considered ahead of time with a regularly scheduled plan.

You must also take what is known as wrench time and maximize it as well. According to IDCON,  “Wrench time has its roots from around 1910, when a concept called time-and-motion study was designed for production assembly workers. The idea with wrench time studies for hourly maintenance workers is to measure what percent of that worker’s time is spent on actual work. Basically, someone measures how much time is spent using tools. Travel time, job planning, getting parts, thinking time and other non-wrench time activities do not count as working time.”

In order to bring your wrench time percentage into about a 50% ratio, you must ensure that your employees have their tasks without waiting on the next job, have the necessary equipment to perform the tasks, save time on travel, and save time on trips to and from the shop area.

Make it happen

So now that you have read more about the advantages of a proactive maintenance plan versus a reactive one, it’s time to take some steps. Keep in mind that in doing so, you will save resources and energy, increase the lifespan of your facility and its capital equipment, and have more efficiency, reduced downtime/inconvenience and financial savings.

Dan Roberge is president of Maintenance Care, which specializes in providing easy-to-use computerized maintenance management software (CMMS). ts portfolio is led by maintenance management software Maintenance Care.