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01.05.2024 - Blog

Understanding Corrective Maintenance Strategies

By Rasmus Hansen

Corrective maintenance is a necessary aspect of maintenance management, playing a pivotal role in keeping equipment operational and ensuring that production processes run smoothly. While it is more reactive compared to other strategies, optimizing how it is implemented can greatly reduce its negative impacts on a company’s operations. 

What is Corrective Maintenance?

Planning maintenance can get you so far, but corrective maintenance is a critical component of overall maintenance strategy, particularly in environments where equipment failures can significantly disrupt operations. Unlike preventive maintenance, which is scheduled and planned to avoid failures, corrective maintenance is performed after a failure has occurred in order to restore equipment to its proper working condition. 

Not all faults can be foreseen, and corrective maintenance is often the cheaper option. However, in the short term, it can have long term financial and security consequences. Even when working preventively, it is important to have corrective strategies in place, ensuring quick resolutions of failures. 

A corrective approach to maintenance is not adequate for most companies, therefore a CMMS software is the easiest and most reliable method of executing planned maintenance strategies.

Learn more about planning in a Maintenance Management System →

What are the Different Corrective Maintenance Strategies?

In the following sections we will cover the two different corrective maintenance strategies and how each of these strategies can impact your maintenance. 

2 main corrective maintenance strategies: 

  • Emergency Maintenance 
  • Reactive Maintenance 

Overview of Maintenance Strategies

When exploring maintenance strategies within the maritime sector, it is essential to differentiate between the various approaches to preventive and corrective maintenance. This distinction can be obscured as certain strategies are recognized by multiple designations. To clarify, we have organized a summary of the prevalent maintenance strategies typically implemented in ship management.

Learn about Preventive Maintenance Strategies→ 

What is Reactive Maintenance?

This maintenance strategy is also known as breakdown maintenance strategy, where you fix the equipment when it breaks. This means that the maintenance is only performed once the issue is identified. 

Maintenance departments may be under the wrong impression that Reactive Maintenance is the easiest approach. This is because there is no initial cost, and it requires lower staffing and less planning than planned maintenance. 

However, once the breakdown occurs to critical equipment, it tends to catch you unaware, and you get overtime and extensive repair costs. Or maybe you will experience a long delivery time on necessary spare parts, which in the worst case scenario can stop your entire production – or parts of it. 

Reactive Maintenance as a strategy 

This strategy is ideal for small companies or for maintenance jobs on less critical equipment where breakdown do not cause collateral damage. 

This maintenance strategy can be a part of your maintenance strategy because all equipment failure cannot be planned or predicted. However, you should not exclusively rely on the strategy and if zero downtime is important, you should consider another strategy.  

What is Emergency Maintenance? 

Emergency Maintenance is maintenance required when an asset or piece of equipment suffers an unexpected breakdown or change in condition that results in an immediate threat to health and safety. 

Emergencies always happen without warning, so this type of maintenance cannot be scheduled, but having properly prepared and executed preventive maintenance program will eliminate almost all emergency maintenance. 

This maintenance strategy is not a chosen strategy and Maintenance Teams do their best to avoid this. It often involves a high amount of unexpected working hours and is the most expensive type of maintenance.  

Summary of Corrective Maintenance Strategies 

There are multiple different corrective maintenance strategies, so which one is for you? We have compiled the key takeaways from each strategy below.  

Reactive Based Maintenance: 

  • No Scheduled Maintenance: Reactive maintenance is performed only when equipment fails and requires repair or replacement and does not include regular checks or preventive measures. 
  • Potential for Higher Costs: Reactive maintenance can lead to higher overall costs due to unplanned downtime, expedited repair needs, and potentially more extensive damage to equipment. 
  • Increased Downtime: Since maintenance is only conducted after a failure occurs, there can be significant operational downtime, impacting productivity and potentially leading to missed deadlines or service disruptions. 
  • Simplicity: Requires less planning and resource allocation in terms of scheduling and labor until an actual failure occurs, making it straightforward but risky in terms of operational continuity and equipment lifespan. 

Emergency Based Maintenance: 

  • Immediate Response Required: Performed in response to an urgent, unexpected event that requires immediate attention to prevent catastrophic outcomes, such as severe equipment damage, safety hazards, or environmental impact. 
  • High Priority and Urgency: Emergency maintenance tasks take precedence over all other maintenance activities due to their potential to halt production, endanger lives, or cause significant financial losses. 
  • Resource Intensive: It often requires mobilizing resources quickly, which can include pulling technicians from other projects, paying for overtime, and expediting parts, leading to higher operational costs. 
  • Preparation and Planning: Effective management of emergency maintenance requires robust emergency response plans, including well-trained personnel, readily available tools and parts, and clear communication channels to minimize response times and mitigate impacts efficiently. 

Learn more about planning in a Maintenance Management System→ 

Corrective versus Preventive Maintenance 

We have compiled a detailed table that encapsulates the principal distinctions among various maintenance strategies. This table categorizes each strategy by task type, objective, and frequency of execution. 

In addition to corrective maintenance, as covered earlier, preventive maintenance takes a difference approach, if you want to learn more about the preventive strategies, calendar, counter and condition, read our article on those. 

Read Guide to Preventive Maintenance Strategies→