Breakdown vs Preventive Maintenance

Breakdown versus Preventive Maintenance, this is the dilemma of every auditor when visiting the maintenance department: When do you insist on preventive maintenance?

First you need to understand the difference. Breakdown maintenance is when the organization only conducts maintenance on a piece of equipment when the equipment breaks down. Preventive, and even predictive maintenance, is when an organization conducts maintenance activities, including inspections, to help ensure equipment is functioning within their expected parameters and to catch indications of minor issues, so that they can be addressed before a bigger problem occurs.

What is wrong with a breakdown maintenance approach? A management system focuses on being proactive. While this strategy is reactive. Plus this is disruptive to an organization, because you can’t plan when the equipment will break down.

The fall out from a breakdown can be multiple:
– Quality – production stops, resulting in delays in the delivery of the product or service, damage of the product.
– Health and Safety – the method of breakdown could be catastrophic causing injury to employees in the vicinity; for example: natural gas leak causing an explosion.
– Regulatory – if this is equipment that is legally required and then is no longer operating; for example: stack scrubbers required by a certificate of approval for air, light curtains required to protect working entrapment.

Ultimately, there is no specific requirement in any of the standards for requiring preventive maintenance. Sometimes, as an auditor, there is a legal requirement for preventive maintenance on equipment, but not as many as would be expected. Something to consider is the posting I observed on a Maintenance Supervisor’s wall during an audit recently, which inspired this blog entry:

“Maintenance is not about fixing things that break. Maintenance is about preserving, protecting, safeguarding and looking after the very machines that make business possible.”

One Response

  1. Wayne MacLeod says:

    As you know, if the equipment is related in any way to environmental protection or a potential source of an environmental release or capable of impacting health and safety the legal expectation of due diligence will require the organization to follow manufacturer’s recommendations, which almost always require preventive maintenance (if for no other reason, but to limit their own legal liability). Due diligence expectations will also almost always include following any recognized standard such as a CSA machine guarding standard or fork truck standard, which generally expect equipment to have preventive maintenance or at least to be in proper repair at all times, which pretty much requires preventive maintenance or at least a rigorous inspection program to identify actual or potential problems.

    So the maintenance supervisor’s wall knows what it is talking about.

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