Maintenance Management
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The Different Types of Maintenance Strategies

Maintenance management comes in different shapes and sizes. The most commonly used are: predictive, preventive, reactive and corrective maintenance strategies. Read on to know more.

Tamoghna Chakraborty
Title card, different types of maintenance management strategies

Maintenance management aims to keep equipment and assets functioning properly in facilities. In the field of maintenance management, there are essentially 4 types of maintenance strategies that are most commonly used- preventive, predictive, reactive, and corrective. This article explores what sets each of these approaches apart from the others, offering simple analogies to understand the key differences.  The different forms of maintenance exist because some equipment failures can be avoided through routine maintenance whereas others are unpredictable. Relying solely on corrective maintenance leads to more operational disruptions. But only using time or usage-based preventive maintenance means performing some unnecessary maintenance. Condition monitoring for predictive maintenance aims to optimize maintenance to reduce costs and operational impacts while avoiding failures. The appropriate types and frequencies of maintenance depend on the criticality and failure modes of the equipment. Implementing an integrated maintenance strategy using a combination of all three maximizes equipment lifetime at the lowest total cost. We also highlight the advantages of using one specific strategy in the workflow so as to reap their benefits on the overall maintenance management aspect of the organization. Let us take a look at them.

Preventive Maintenance

Preventive Maintenance, just as it sounds, is used in regular intervals. The main objective is that through regular maintenance, any sort of unexpected equipment failures or asset mismanagement may be avoided. Maintenance is done on a timely basis so as to prevent any such problems from arising. To make it even simpler, preventive maintenance is like taking an antacid and having heavy fast food. It is not a mandatory event that your stomach will have problems, but the antacids would prevent your stomach from having any problems. Hence, preventive maintenance makes up for an important part of the maintenance functionalities and is the most commonly used maintenance strategy. Let us take a look at some of the advantages of preventive maintenance and its impact in the field of maintenance management:

Regularly scheduled inspections keep the assets and the equipment in their normal shape and ensure that issues are caught before they cause operational failures. Hence, preventing such unexplainable breakdowns helps in increasing uptime and also enhances the reliability of the equipment. When such assets or equipment are more consistently operational, it allows the organizations to work at a higher productivity rate with a much enhanced operational efficiency.

Repairing a device entirely after failure is very expensive and time-consuming. However, avoiding operational disruptions and equipment damage saves money in the long run. Preventive maintenance leads to fewer high-cost emergency repairs of the assets, less downtime impacting operations, and increases the lifecycle of the asset. 


  • Preventive maintenance allows for regular scheduled inspections to catch issues before failures occur, increasing uptime and equipment reliability, and also, enhancing productivity.  
  • Preventive maintenance helps in stopping unexpected breakdowns through timely maintenance and saves money over expensive emergency repairs and replacements.
  • Assets operated consistently with preventive maintenance have extended lifecycles.
  •  Preventing operational disruptions enables organizations to sustain higher efficiency and output.

Predictive Maintenance

While preventive maintenance follows a routine schedule, predictive maintenance relies on direct monitoring of equipment conditions at all times. The sensors, for example, connected to an asset provide a constant stream of data on certain metrics like vibration, occupancy, temperature, noise levels, and other indicators of operational health. The software analyzes the data to provide a clear picture of the issues that are potent in the asset itself and provides a time frame for safety, after which failure might occur! This approach can be compared to a nurse keeping 24/7 tabs on a patient suffering from a certain medical condition. The non-stop monitoring allows predictive maintenance to get ahead of problems. Let us take a look at some of its advantages.

By continuously monitoring equipment and asset conditions through data, a subtle performance change can be detected very early in the process. A computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) is able to decode the data and provide solutions to potent problems long before failure occurs. With the ability to catch problems in advance, predictive maintenance makes up for a higher uptime reliability than preventive maintenance. Minimized downtime ensures that productivity and operational efficiency are not compromised.

With precise diagnostics and future failure risk projections, predictive maintenance allows organizations to prioritize repair work smartly. Not all issue alerts warrant immediate intervention, allowing maintenance to be focussed which can take up time and be expensive. Some failures projected weeks out might not require action at all if the equipment is already slated for scheduled overhauls later on. Targeted spending optimized around operational risk helps balance costs. Being overly preventive can waste money doing unnecessary work. Hence, predictive maintenance provides cost-efficient spending.


  • Predictive maintenance allows early detection of equipment issues through continuous monitoring, allowing problems to be addressed before failure occurs. This increases uptime and reliability. 
  • Predictive maintenance provides for non-stop monitoring and predicting future failure risks, which enables smarter prioritization of repairs and more focused spending. This optimizes costs.
  • Predictive maintenance avoids unnecessary work and expenses from overly preventive maintenance schedules. Spending is targeted based on projected operational risk.
  • Predictive maintenance outperforms preventative maintenance in terms of uptime reliability because it can detect problems ahead of time. 

Reactive Maintenance

Reactive maintenance takes a ‘run to failure’ approach, allowing assets to operate unchanged until equipment actually fails and unacceptable performance or breakdown occurs. This strategy avoids routine maintenance costs like inspections, scheduled repairs, and preventive component replacements that take up a significant part of the overhead budget, however, breakdowns, halted operations, and the expense of maintenance following a breakdown all contribute to a significant crack in the budget and operational efficiency. Reactive approaches to maintenance require contingency planning and backup systems to minimize disruption when the breakdown of the asset occurs. Let us take a look at some of the advantages of choosing a reactive approach towards maintenance for a faulty asset.

Unlike preventive maintenance which requires regular investments of staff hours into inspections, upkeep tasks, and scheduled component servicing or replacements to avoid surprise failures, reactive maintenance involves no proactive labor expenses, allowing assets to operate as-is until actual functional failure. This eliminates the time and overhead costs associated with routine maintenance on equipment still performing within operational limits. Payroll and manpower resources focused on production yield higher returns than being tied up in continual equipment upkeep when minimal servicing need exists.


  • Reactive maintenance takes up a ‘run to failure’ approach while dealing with assets.
  • Reactive maintenance avoids any regular maintenance costs like inspections and scheduled repairs since no work is done until assets actually fail.
  •  Assets can operate unchanged until unacceptable performance happens.
  •  Reactive maintenance is mainly done on assets that are less critical in nature.

Corrective Maintenance

Corrective maintenance shares the reactive "run it until it breaks' ' mindset of allowing assets to operate unchanged until performance deteriorates to the point of failure or breakdown necessitating emergency repairs. Unlike preventive and predictive tactics aimed at sustaining health, corrective maintenance focuses directly on executing essential repairs, parts replacements, and component refits required to restore failed equipment back to working order. This fire fighting approach forces managers into costly, disruptive downtime, suboptimal parts procurement strains, and reliance on available service crews rather than controlled, pre-planned maintenance agendas. However, some see value in exploiting assets hard before corrective intervention, somewhat delaying capital renewal costs in favor of keeping deprecated equipment producing as long as possible first. Others utilize corrective work only for ancillary equipment. However, unmitigated failures still risk revenue losses and safety hazards from sudden stoppages. The correct priority organizations place on preventive maintenance lowers the corrective burden substantially. Let us take a look at some of the advantages of such a maintenance strategy, if there is any!


  • Corrective maintenance also works on a run-till-failure approach.
  • Corrective maintenance focuses directly on fixing issues through repairs and parts replacements to get failed equipment working again.
  • Corrective maintenance builds pressure to prevent unexpected maintenance expenditures. It can also generate safety hazards, since repair work may be hurried and incorrectly executed.
  • The biggest disadvantage of corrective maintenance is its unpredictable nature. If an asset breaks suddenly, it might impede other maintenance tasks and generate unplanned downtime. 


Preventive maintenance seeks to avoid breakdowns through scheduled care. Predictive maintenance uses technology to monitor emerging issues prior to failure. Reactive and corrective approaches wait for faults to actually manifest before taking any corrective action. Most maintenance programs balance a mix of preventive schedules, predictive monitoring when viable, and reactive and corrective work as needed - all aimed at sustaining asset effectiveness while avoiding unnecessary costs. Effective maintenance management keeps infrastructure and facilities running properly to support human health, safety, and well-being. For example, maintenance helps ensure building systems like elevators, HVAC, plumbing, and electricity continue operating. This directly improves comfort, productivity, and safety for people living and working in these buildings every day. Keeping equipment trouble-free takes careful planning, early intervention whenever possible and rapid response when the inevitable breakdown strikes. Proper maintenance management marks the difference between operations that hum along smoothly and those plagued by unexpected failures.

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