Corrective maintenance refers to any tasks that identify and fix faulty equipment or systems in order to restore them to working order. Incorporating it into your management strategy can keep your business running smoothly while reducing asset tracking costs.
This type of maintenance only happens after a breakdown of some kind, so it is sometimes called “reactive maintenance.”
Corrective maintenance is fairly inevitable: Even the most comprehensive preventative maintenance plan can't predict everything. So, while corrective maintenance isn't exactly fun, it's a key element for any business that has a plan for asset management.
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If your business uses any type of assets, it needs a maintenance strategy. A good maintenance strategy will turn any operation into a well-oiled machine across many industries, from logistics to construction to the service industry. So where does corrective maintenance come in?
In short, your asset monitoring strategy needs to include corrective maintenance so that you're ready for the unexpected. For issues that you can see coming, preventative maintenance addresses them before they become a problem. For everything else, corrective maintenance is on standby to addresses (or “correct”) problems after they arise.
Preventative and corrective maintenance working together will ensure minimal disruption to your business and its operations. Or, to put it another way, preventative maintenance is like building a ship that's sturdy enough to cross the Atlantic. Corrective maintenance is making sure you also have an evacuation plan and enough lifeboats in case you hit an unexpected iceberg.
The basics of corrective maintenance can be broken down into five steps.
First is fault recognition, which is the acknowledgement of a system failure, such as when a factory stops producing a product. This is followed by localization, which is when the exact origin of the failure within the system is tracked to a single asset. To continue the analogy, a fault localization for a factory might be that a conveyer belt has stopped moving.
Third is diagnosis, which refers to finding the failed component within the responsible equipment. A factory employee who examines the conveyer belt may diagnose the problem as a stripped gear.
The fourth step is to fix the problem. Two different types of solutions might be called for: a repair or a replacement of the failed equipment. Finally, the last step is the checkout, in which the conveyer belt is reassembled and the factory is put back into operation.
Documentation of the failure is another optional step that we'd recommend: Over time, a pattern of frequent system failure may emerge from instances of corrective maintenance, and this can guide more proactive maintenance measures.
The process is best suited to non-critical assets. If an asset isn't the one thing you need to keep an operation in motion, it can fail without impacting your overall efficiency or endangering your team.
Corrective maintenance can be divided into two basic types, planned and unplanned. A comprehensive maintenance routine should be able to handle either one, although planned is preferred. Here's the difference between the two, as well as a few terms associated with each.
Corrective maintenance can be planned when aging or broken equipment does not need to be repaired immediately: The maintenance is still required, but it can be scheduled for the near future, allowing the operation to continue smoothly and on budget.
This might be because the equipment can still work in a limited capacity, because it is rarely used, or because the operation has redundancies in place. The corrective maintenance may need to be deferred due to resource limitations such as time or available staff.
Corrective maintenance is unplanned if the broken equipment is so essential that it must be repaired immediately. This often disrupts a workflow, since staffers must drop their standard duties in order to diagnose and repair the problem.
In one example of planned corrective maintenance, a beekeeper has noticed small cracks in the polyurethane resin on one of her seven beehives. She knows that this is a serious problem, but not an urgent one, since the weather is warm and the bees aren't at a risk of dying. Her team has a slow day next week, so she sets aside this time to replace the sealant on all the hives with more durable fiberglass resin, fixing the failure while restoring the beehives.
An example of unplanned corrective maintenance would be a local bakery discovering that one of their two ovens won't turn on when they clock in at 3 am. Since they use the ovens every day, the workers must diagnose and repair the problem immediately. After a few hours, they're able to replace the broken ignitor with a spare part from their supply closet, and can resume work with minimal losses.
A business that can quickly adjust to a planned or unplanned maintenance needs will be best prepared to thrive. Here are the key benefits to developing a robust maintenance response at your organization.
- Time saved: Equipment can always fail unexpectedly. However, only companies that can quickly respond with corrective maintenance will be able to return to service with as little downtime as possible.
- More efficient repair process: Corrective maintenance can often be a quick matter of swapping in a new part or component. This is much faster than a preventative maintenance plan, which impacts all your equipment, whether it's working or not.
- Resources saved: Since your business is only replacing resources when they break, you only pay for what you use. This is the same reason why you don't replace every light bulb in your house every year, and instead simply replace them when they burn out.
In the end, corrective maintenance plays an important part in keeping an operation running, even if it must always be paired with preventative maintenance to be optimally effective as a key element in asset lifecycle management.
Focusing on corrective maintenance as a solution for your asset upkeep needs may come with some downsides. Here are the top concerns to keep in mind when assessing the importance of this kind of maintenance for your business.
- Monetary uncertainty: Waiting for equipment to break can be less cost-effective in the long run when compared with early replacement or repair. In addition, your business may replace more units in one quarter than during another, making budgets tough to balance.
- Reduced business efficiency: Relying too much on corrective maintenance can create functional uncertainty just as easily as monetary uncertainty. When assets break down, your business must pause or adjust operations, which will make it less efficient overall and reduce revenues.
- Poor safety: If equipment failure can create unsafe working conditions in your operation, then focusing on corrective maintenance is a failure of safety precautions. Just one tragedy is too many, not to mention the impact on employee morale and the company's image.
- Higher maintenance costs: Equipment that is used until failure can trigger a chain reaction of component failures, which will ultimately cost more in labor and replacement parts.
In all cases, these downsides will vary depending on the equipment or systems that are being used: Major disadvantages in one industry may not translate to the same problem in another. It's one reason our guide to the best asset tracking companies recommends a range of solutions for different organizational needs.
There is such a thing as too much corrective maintenance. If you find yourself fixing an increasing number of broken-down assets, then costs will inevitably rise along with disruptions to your operations, no matter how quickly you can fix them. Here are a few ways to reduce it.
- Implement preventative maintenance: Businesses should have a good preventative maintenance strategy in place to do what they can to avoid unanticipated breakdowns. Some experts put the ratio at 80% preventative and 20% corrective maintenance.
- Schedule asset inspections and closer monitoring: To figure out what areas are worth monitoring closely, review your past asset failures. For example, if a landscaping operations has previously replaced several blown head gaskets on its lawn mowers, it should add gasket inspections to its checklists.
- Upgrade older equipment: This will improve reliability and hopefully reduce breakdowns.
Corrective maintenance can never be fully avoided, so make sure your budget has room for the emergency resources that may be needed to address an asset failure.
Your business maintenance plan can focus mostly on preventative maintenance in order to keep all your assets working as long as possible. However, you should definitely devote some effort to establishing your corrective methods, since you will need them during an unexpected system failure.
To prepare, try considering which of your assets are best suited to a planned corrective maintenance response, and which are suited to a more immediate, unplanned response.
Once your entire team knows the right maintenance protocols, you'll be ready for anything.