Reduce Reactive Maintenance Requests and System Downtime

Reduce Reactive Maintenance Requests and System Downtime

Across all industries maintenance is becoming far more dynamic and technical. More efficient and smart systems now require specialized preventative maintenance programs with teams that can adapt to the ever-changing climate of facilities and equipment maintenance. Many companies are moving from the days of almost exclusively reactive maintenance to that of a predictive and preventative approach. Below is a straight-forward and three-tier approach to moving into a far more preventative stance:

  • Reactive: Maintenance or repair that takes place due to failure or mechanical breakdown
  • Predictive: Maintenance that occurs on a regular basis because of repetitive reactive request, often influenced by outside factors, such as environmental, overuse, or equipment age
  • Preventative (PM): Maintenance that occurs as part of a manufacturer-recommended program and additional end-user procedures driven through predictive maintenance needs.

It is the course of moving from a primarily reactive program to that of a preventative program that will highlight your predictive maintenance needs; these will either remain predictive or become preventative. For a task to remain predictive it should be a result of a changing outside factor. For example, if you know that in extended dry weather your HVAC filters bog down with dust, you could not schedule changing the filters as a preventative-maintenance item because the weather will dictate this need.

Creating a Baseline

Most programs have a baseline of 70% reactive to 30% percent preventative maintenance; however, a better goal is to achieve an end mix of 80% preventative maintenance to 20% reactive tasks. Often preventive maintenance is cast aside, be it because of labor redirection, perceived cost savings, lack of understanding about the need, or just plain complacency. Without going into to rabbit hole of why preventative maintenance is necessary, this should be self-evident; if your organization does not see the value, it must be your goal to change the fostering of that.

Transforming Attitudes

To begin the transformation, it is first imperative to understand the history of the workload. If you do not already have a tracking platform, whether internal or externally provided, get one. This will be the foundation for all future tracking of metrics. At a minimum, the system must be capable of providing a means to track each of the categorical maintenance tasks: reactive, preventative, and predictive. If you are planning to do this in house, you should expect and plan for some clerical time in developing the reporting structure.

Next you will need to review all on-site equipment, review manufacture suggested tasks, and create a platform for generating tasks to accomplish them per those recommendations. Be sure to include all of the facility’s equipment in your scope of work, regardless of how minor the tasks may seem. This will be the start of determining your labor needs and justification for contract versus in-house items.

You will need to review all reactive and preventative maintenance requests across the span of a given timeframe. This will be the basis for determining how your reactive versus preventative maintenance workload metrics align. You can choose the timeframe, but I would recommend at least one full year; the more information you have, the more accurate your assessment will be. While sorting this information, be certain to place it into the categorical options of reactive and preventative. Look for anomalies of repeat requests as this will be your first shot at developing the ever-important predictive tasks.

Setting Goals

Now it is time to set your goals. Keep in mind: The larger the negative gap between preventative and reactive maintenance, the longer it will take to reach your goal. Work with the leadership of your organization and your team to develop your goals. When setting goals, keep in mind all machines are similar in that the more run down they have become, the higher the chance the first few preventative maintenance attempts will create an increase of reactive work. Think about a car that has not had an oil change in 50,000 miles; when you finally change the oil, you will likely see some blowback and damages resulting from the differed maintenance. This will create a bell curve — you will get out of it. Stay persistent and remember the end goal.

Stay the Course

You now have roadmap to a brighter, more efficient future. This is a system that will evolve and change; it is a key part of your role to keep it up to date, modify it with changes, and hold accountability to your team and leadership. This tool can no be used to determine staffing needs, capital expenditure recommendation all while providing excellent data for future goals.


Posted On May 10, 2019

William Hoff

Director of Facilities and Environmental Services NYS, JMA Wireless

William Hoff is a facilities and environmental management director and consultant. He currently hold the title Director of Facilities and Environmental Services NYS with JMA Wireless. He has launched programs moving companies from reactive to preventative maintenance utilizing both CMS and in-house solutions in the fields of health care, manufacturing, education, and financial institutions. 

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