Selecting a Successful Maintenance Strategy

a group of professionals observe a floorplan pointing out key elements of the facility

As with most areas of business, facilities management is an area with multiple strategies available, depending on what school of thought you subscribe to.

Emerging and evolving technologies have allowed facilities management to progress in leaps and bounds. And while once everything might have been run out of notebooks in filing cabinets, these days, technologies exist that can allow you to predict the lifecycle of an asset, and pinpoint when repair cost will exceed cost of replacement.

The right maintenance strategy reduces expenditure and downtime and improves efficiency.

What are the different approaches to maintenance strategy?

There are three main approaches you can take when it comes to building your overall maintenance strategy. For most organisations, the ideal strategy will be a blend of all three, depending on resources and desired outcomes.

Reactive maintenance

Reactive maintenance, as the name implies, is a strategy that takes “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it” to heart. Effectively a run-to-failure approach, reactive maintenance has its place in overall maintenance strategy. Total reliance on reactive maintenance is generally not ideal, as it can reduce in higher expenditure and increased downtime.  

Additionally, reactive maintenance can cause a significant amount of stress on your facilities team. Constantly focussing on putting out fires and reacting to things as they happen puts staff under intense pressure.

When relying on reactive maintenance alone, your risk of multiple assets failing at the same time is elevated. When this occurs, time to resolution is increased, which can mean extended downtime of critical equipment.

However, reactive maintenance does come with some pros. When used efficiently, for non-critical assets, reactive maintenance can keep routine maintenance costs and staff costs down.

For non-critical assets, reactive maintenance can prove an efficient strategy. The less impact a failure of that asset has on stakeholders, the more appropriate a reactive approach can be.

Preventative Maintenance

Preventative maintenance is the opposite of reactive maintenance in that it is a strategy of pre-planning to minimise the risk of asset failure. When engaging in a preventative maintenance strategy, routine maintenance costs are increased. However, so is the probability of mitigating problems before they arise.

Preventative maintenance involves inspection and maintenance work on assets at regular intervals. Much like a car service, these intervals can be determined by time, or a measure of the assets use.

By employing preventative maintenance as a part of your maintenance strategy, you can significantly extend the life of your assets.  Preventative maintenance also mitigates the risk of costly unplanned failures and downtime.

When setting up your planned maintenance, take care that you don’t overload the calendar. Too much pre-planned maintenance can result in a schedule that isn’t manageable with the resources you have.  Regularly reviewing and optimising your schedule ensures you are realising the efficiencies of a planned maintenance approach.

Predictive Maintenance

Predictive maintenance levels up from preventative maintenance, and focusses on predicting the lifecycle of an asset. By engaging in predictive maintenance, you’re forecasting the rate of deterioration of an asset, and necessary points of intervention.

The primary goal of predictive maintenance is to leverage technology to eliminate breakdowns before they happen. Typically, engaging in this strategy requires the use of advanced technology, robust analytics tools or machine learning.

Forecasting asset data requires access to granular, validated asset insights. You need to be able to obtain a clear view of the asset, including day to day requirements and usage.

With these insights, you’re able to prioritise when and where to focus resources, reducing risk of breakdown across your asset portfolio. In certain industries, employing predictive maintenance is reported to have reduced maintenance costs by up to 50%.

Software such as Sapphire provides asset lifecycle management forecasting, allowing facilities managers to project the capital spend of their asset portfolio.  

Which approach is right for you?

When it comes to selecting a maintenance strategy, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Among our clients, the most advanced facilities are leveraging a blend of all three.

To find out what strategy fits your needs we advise starting with these five key questions:

1.     What business outcomes are you expected to sustain?

2.     Which assets enable this?

3.     Which assets are critical to sustained performance?

4.     What are your best strategies to manage risk?

5.     How will you finance these strategies?

Your ideal maintenance strategy will deliver the business outcomes you need, while finding the right balance for you between cost and risk.

If you want to shift your strategy, speak to one of our consultants to see what you can implement, and what policies and processes you need to support it.