U.S. Department of Energy - Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
Federal Energy Management Program
Reactive Maintenance at a Glance
- Low cost of ongoing maintenance.
- Less staff required.
- Increased unplanned equipment downtime.
- Increased labor cost.
- Increased cost for equipment repair or replacement.
- Possible secondary equipment or process damage from equipment failure.
- Inefficient use of staff resources.
Reactive maintenance follows a "run it until it breaks" strategy where no actions or efforts are taken to maintain equipment as intended by the manufacturer. Studies indicate this is still the predominant mode of maintenance for Federal facilities.
Reactive maintenance advantages are a double-edged sword. Federal agencies following a purely reactive maintenance strategy can expect little expenditures for manpower or system upkeep until something breaks.
However, systems break. With new equipment, Federal agencies can expect minimal incidents of failure. However, older equipment often experiences higher failure incidents and costlier repairs.
Reactive maintenance may appear to be the lowest cost option, but Federal agencies following this approach generally spend more over the life of the system than with other maintenance strategies. This is because additional budget is often required due to:
- More frequent system (or part) replacement due to shortened life-cycle.
- More damage done due to lacking maintenance, requiring higher repair costs.
- Primary device failure causing additional system failures at the secondary device level.
- Downtime due to complete failure, avoidable with planned system replacement or maintenance.
- Overtime costs to get the system back online quickly.
These increased costs and downtime are avoidable with proper maintenance. However, reactive maintenance may be the best option depending on individual system and context parameters.