What’s the right approach to maintenance?

DPA Insights
By Antonio R. (Tony) Rodriguez, CMC, President

We always enjoy sharing opinions, tips and scenarios with fellow reliability and maintenance experts within online professional forums.

One question within LinkedIn’s 20,913-member Plant Reliability & Maintenance Group hit a collective nerve.

The query “Of preventive and reactive maintenance, which would be more expensive, and why?” generated more than 80 valuable insights from more than a dozen individuals over two months. Short answer? There are many approaches – and some key best practices.Flight Mechanics

First, a shout-out to KDF Technical Officer Michael Mwangi Mucugia for initiating and fueling this fascinating conversation thread. A list of the many contributors follows below.

What were the group’s key takeaways?

Preventive maintenance mitigates or eliminates down time.
Preventive maintenance is plannable. Reactive maintenance is akin to a fireman showing up when the building’s already half consumed by flames; it interrupts (and often halts) flow and productivity. In a well-run preventative/proactive/condition-based maintenance program, the team sees the issues long before they happen. Preventive maintenance gives your team the ability to schedule work or make repairs in a timely manner to minimize production loss. It’s typically noted that each dollar invested in preparation saves 3-5 hours during work execution.

For smaller operations with limited budgets, Reliability Centered Maintenance can help plants target the highest-risk breakdowns and conserve resources.
Depending on the equipment’s scope of criticality and up-front costs, Reliability Centered Maintenance processes can determine what equipment should be the main focus of your preventive maintenance program and which equipment could be monitored in more cost-efficient ways.

In certain situations, reactive maintenance may be balanced with preventative maintenance.
Managers may require a combination of strategies—sometimes for the same piece of equipment—based on a company’s changing business needs and its plants’ flexible manufacturing requirements. For example, it may be cheaper to replace a small electric motor than to maintain it. In any scenario, consequences of failure and the plant’s operational setup should be taken into consideration for preventive and reactive strategies.

Schedule Sample

Click to view larger image.

P&S= Planning & Scheduling

It’s important to understand the importance of both an ongoing predictive maintenance approach—which looks at current and future conditions to plan and schedule maintenance—and routine inspections — which mitigate risk by validating equipment condition, detecting wear, and sometimes, impending failure.

Before you begin, do a criticality analysis.

Before deciding on the balance of RCM and RM strategies that are right for your facility, it’s important to perform a critical component evaluation on your equipment. This will allow you to objectively identify failure risks and associated costs to the business compared to the cost of preventive maintenance for each component.

Conducting maintenance and reliability analyses (using data from your CMMS and DCS) can help you to determine which maintenance programs/practices are most applicable to critical machines, essential machines and general purpose machines.

At that point, you can make a business decision about the balance of risk and capital expenditure. Ultimately, there is no “right” technical answer… rather, it’s your businesses’ decision based on your goals and unique requirements.

Ready to re-examine (or begin) your preventive and predictive maintenance program? Here are actions to incorporate, courtesy of Super Dave Rettke, Mechanical Maintenance Specialist at NV Energy:

  1. Begin a predictive maintenance program, purchase the tools and training for the people and have them set up routes. Once the routes are set up, ensure that reporting on all equipment is done regularly and consistently.
  2. Begin a condition-based maintenance program. Use operations surveys and predictive route information/data to initiate the program. Hold regular meetings with operations, maintenance, management and engineering. Surveys should be filled out by all plant people to give their insights on the equipment in question that month. Ensure that any action items are listed with those responsible for completing the items and completion dates. Assign a manager to track all actions items and provide reminders.
  3. Have people trained in Root Cause Analysis. Ensure that RCA’s are conducted on failures. These can be process, equipment, maintenance, engineering or safety failures. RCA’s set a path to using facts and data to develop issues and fixes rather than emotions and opinions.
  4. Management’s ongoing encouragement, an open flow of information and suggestions, good management-employee communication, Total Quality Management training and a well run continuous improvement program or TPM program will help your facility continue to identify and fix problems well in advance of equipment failures.

What’s your organization’s philosophy and approach to preventative/proactive/condition-based maintenance?

What are some examples of how it’s saved time and money? Add a comment below!

NOTE:  The maintenance professionals around the world who joined us in adding their expertise and opinions to the LinkedIn thread include Super Dave Rettke, mechanical maintenance specialist at NV Energy; Colton Bach, sales manager at Machine Saver; Cliff Williams, maintenance manager, presenter and author of People-A Reliability Success Story; Adnan Rana, senior manager, maintenance/power at Sitara Chemicals, Pakistan; Byron Wooldridge, engineer; Barry Snider, oil and gas maintenance strategy designer; Joe Petersen, account manager at Meridium; Lester Philip Lualhati, plant maintenance supervisor at Taiyo Nippon Sanso Philippines, Inc./Ingasco, Inc.; Gentry Staggs, senior manufacturing supervisor, tooling at Newell Rubbermaid; Antonio Huertas, startup project manager at Technicas Reunidas; Steve Deren, reliability engineer and technical applications specialist; Jill Mooney C., chief executive at YCF; James William Davies, maintenance & operations support superintendent; Jean-Benoît Nonqu at Infor; Eyad Hassoubah, senior maintenance support head at SAMREF and Shane Daniel, principal safety, risk and reliability consultant at TSRHorizons.


Antonio (Tony) Rodriguez, CMC, president of Daniel Penn Associates, LLC has 35 years experience in encouraging collaboration and progressive thinking to bring about organizational transformation. With expertise in facilitation/team development, Lean Six Sigma, re-engineering and supply chain optimization, supplier diversity, strategic sourcing, asset management and productivity improvement, Rodriguez has directed projects for large and medium size entities, both public and private, national and international. His experience and knowledge has saved clients millions of dollars by improving their organizational effectiveness, productivity, customer responsiveness, quality, and labor management.

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