Corrective Maintenance

In this e-guide, we explore corrective maintenance. How does it differ from other types of maintenance like planned maintenance, and what are corrective maintenance best practices?

What is corrective maintenance?

There are three “U’s” when it comes to corrective maintenance. While the actual definition of corrective maintenance is broad and adopted for its own use by individual industries and organizations, corrective maintenance as a whole is known as maintenance performed to restore and repair an asset to its original working condition. Corrective maintenance is also known as reactive maintenance. Corrective maintenance is put into play when a breakdown or equipment failure occurs, or an asset needs attention. 

The three “U’s” mentioned above are “Use,” Upkeep” and, “Upgrade” and can be defined as follows:

  • Use – Use is a measurement of how long an asset has been running. It can help identify if a part or piece has outlived its functionality. 
  • Upkeep – Upkeep is the record of preventive maintenance work performed on an asset. It can demonstrate if the original manufacturer’s maintenance recommendations or a maintenance strategy was followed. It helps develop a hypothesis about why a machine broke down and the items that may need to be fixed. 
  • Upgrade  – Upgrade is the process of bringing an asset back to its complete working order. Replacing faulty parts, buying a brand new asset, cleaning components, or simply rebooting all fall under this “U” of maintenance operations and a corrective maintenance program. 

What are examples of corrective maintenance?

Everyone experiences corrective maintenance in our everyday lives. From declogging a water hose, mowing the yard, or calling a repair crew to come out and check a leaky dishwasher, we all perform corrective maintenance in some capacity.

Corrective maintenance takes on a more assertive tone for manufacturers. It’s fixing a vehicle’s head gasket when it’s seeping or removing a build-up of sludge inside a malfunctioning submersible pump.

For facilities, corrective maintenance can include yard work, an HVAC system meltdown, or automatic doors sensors that aren’t opening or closing.
Corrective maintenance usually follows a breakdown in preventive maintenance but not always. It can be instigated simply by an asset’s inability to run, work, start, or a need for attentiveness.

Why is corrective maintenance necessary?

There’s a time and place for everything. Most maintenance departments are becoming more and more preventive in their maintenance, but corrective maintenance is necessary in any maintenance strategy. Unplanned maintenance and breakdown maintenance will occur in every maintenance organization. Corrective maintenance allows teams to be ready for anything. 

Many experts use the Pareto Principle in their management of maintenance. It states that 80% of maintenance should be preventive scheduled maintenance and 20% corrective. It’s a goal worth striving for, but it’s best to allow both preventive and corrective maintenance strategies to co-exist and not become a battle against each other. Routine maintenance can also be used.

You need both preventive maintenance and corrective maintenance to be successful. The two are intrinsically tied together and are very necessary. But again, task prioritization is key. 

What are some benefits of corrective maintenance?

A robust maintenance strategy becomes strong because of the vital benefits corrective maintenance brings to an organization:

Greater efficiency: Already scheduled preventive maintenance can discover a corrective maintenance issue. Before a breakdown occurs, corrective action is applied. One task already scheduled can lead to less downtime. Condition monitoring can also help.

Asset life extension: Corrective maintenance is designed to get the most out of all assets. Equipment life extension occurs with the installation of new or reconditioned parts.

Maintenance cost savings through simplification: Corrective maintenance saves organizations money. Longer asset life is just the beginning. Managers only need to repair an asset when maintenance is absolutely necessary. They don’t have to tie up their teams with preventive maintenance tasks that traditionally take more time to perform and increase budgetary spending.

Elevated employee safety: When something happens, corrective maintenance is on the case immediately, keeping workers safe from escalating issues or dangerous equipment failures.

Better resource planning: When paired with a computerized maintenance management system, corrective maintenance tasks can be prioritized and put on an already busy maintenance team’s schedule where they are appropriate. It’s another time-saver and recognizes budget concerns.

A proper maintenance strategy incorporates different types of maintenance. Corrective maintenance is only one piece of the puzzle and should be combined with preventive maintenance to be highly effective.

What are the different categories of Corrective Maintenance?

There are five different categories of corrective maintenance. They are:

  1. Replacement/Repair – replace parts in failed assets to achieve full functionality.
  2. Recondition/Rebuild – renovate an asset to full functionality by following manufacturer guidelines and specifications.
  3. Emergency Maintenance – pressing repairs made to alleviate downtime and safety issues.
  4. Salvage – Replace unrepairable components with preserved parts from other unrepairable assets.
  5. Outside Servicing – call external repair experts and technicians when repair tasks are too large, and functionality ceases. 

Each category can define budget, scope, manpower, downtime, and corrective maintenance action. Except for unplanned corrective maintenance, most fall under planned maintenance tasks.

Corrective maintenance best practices

No one wants corrective maintenance issues. The less you have, the better off your team is. These best practices can help you face off against a rising tide of unplanned work with a few tweaks to your proactive maintenance workflow. 

A typical maintenance production workflow that has complimentary preventive and corrective columns may look like this:

While this works well for most teams, the “correction” box must be addressed. A best practice is to put a step in between “diagnosis” and “correction” that is labeled “prioritize.” 

“Prioritize” makes you consider when you should complete an issue. Is it an “Emergency”? Is it a “Recondition/Rebuild” situation? Do you need “Salvage” on this operation? 

It also allows you to put the correct crews on the corrective work. Ask yourself – who is the best-trained crew member for this event? Who is certified on the asset? Will we need more than one team member? Should we call on outside resources?

Consider downtime. How long will the repairs take? How much productivity will be lost? How can we make that a preventive maintenance task? 

These questions can create a performance timeframe for when corrective maintenance is best applied. A best practice is always to analyze the situation and then plan and schedule accordingly. 

You are not at the mercy of a breakdown. The breakdown is at the mercy of how you prioritize corrective maintenance. 

Is a CMMS a corrective maintenance best practice?

The short answer is yes. A computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) solution can help you answer the questions we asked ourselves above. It can create analytics and reports that prioritize your work. A CMMS can also provide you with an asset’s maintenance history to help diagnose what may be wrong, why a part is failing or needs replacing. It can also allow you to transform corrective maintenance data into preventive or predictive maintenance trends and give evidence of failure.

Summary - Corrective Maintenance

Corrective maintenance is an important part of a maintenance process and maintenance strategy. Use, Upkeep, and Upgrade can go a long way in bringing efficiency while cutting down on unnecessary downtime. As a maintenance manager, You will have corrective maintenance, but approaching it with proper analytics, thought, and a complimentary preventive maintenance plan can prioritize your actions and bring events to a close faster without losing machinery or productivity.