What are the consequences of reactive maintenance?

22 September 2017

In the entire sector we can hear about necessary preventive maintenance and many companies actually implement such a strategy. But can we skip prevention? Are the consequences resulting from the lack of the UR strategy and long-term activities planning really so severe?

In practice, reactive maintenance can be compared to fire extinguishing. The work of mechanics in such conditions is a continuous run resulting from the necessity of eliminating breakdowns which occur. Many companies, which do not have the UR activity strategy, conduct reactive maintenance which means that they exploit machines until they are damaged. Such an approach frequently arises from the unawareness of losses which may be gigantic.

These are most common consequences which manufacturing companies must cope with and which are based on emergency activities and not prevention within technical property maintenance.


Increasing maintenance costs

The lack of time for machine maintenance and a failure to detect the causes of breakdowns increase expenses on UR. Such costs are connected not only with necessary purchasing of more spare parts but also time spent on recovering the normal operation of devices. The requirement for incurring high expenditures on repairs and machine park maintenance is reflected in lower profits for the entire company.


Ineffective UR maintenance

No strategy for maintenance. Unfortunately, in companies where long-term UR activities are not planned, there is no proper department structure and tasks are assigned hastily. Personnel, reserves and work management are not effective. A reactive approach frequently leads to constant conflicts between mechanics and machine operators. There is an ongoing war between the production line and maintenance department which affects the operation of the entire plant negatively.


Safety decrease

A haste and continuous breakdowns unfortunately contribute to the growth in mistakes which can lead to accidents at work. A safety level is also reduced because of the fact that mechanics have little time for correct fulfilment of tasks; they often do their job in a hurry, by a shortcut or they apply improvised and temporary solutions. An accident risk is extremely high and their consequences may be various – from yet another downtime, through health loss, to even death.


Uncomfortable work conditions

A low work comfort results from the overall atmosphere in many plants applying reactive maintenance. High workload, unexpected tasks, interrupting employees in their work and assigning them to more urgent tasks, or continuous tension in the relationships with operators are factors which do not contribute to high motivation or satisfaction positively. The negative feelings of employees are reflected in the effects of their work to a great extent.


Low work quality

A nervous atmosphere and a hurry is demonstrated in the poor quality of the work performed. Sometimes, despite sincere intentions, mechanics are not able to fulfil their tasks appropriately. A low work quality generates more breakdowns which affect drastically the availability of machines and their throughput.


Low availability and effectiveness

Extinguishing fires has an exceptionally negative impact on the effectiveness of production processes and the availability of machines. Waiting for repairs, sudden downtimes or repeating faults significantly reduce the rate of machines availability and the OEE indicator. The lack of preventive activities leads to the wastefulness of prospective productivity which could contribute, for instance, to faster order fulfilment or accepting more orders.


High failure frequency

At plants with no preventive UR, there is observed a significantly higher equipment failure frequency than at companies which implement preventive maintenance. Planned maintenance works and repairs, and above all, the schedule of technical inspections, allows for the timely detection of the first symptoms of incorrect work and their elimination before a serious breakdown occurs. Unfortunately, with the reactive approach, there is no time for such activities; therefore, an increasing failure frequency reduces the lifespan of equipment.


Ineffective management of spare parts warehouse

Since in the reactive approach there are no advance and prophylactic activities conducted for maintenance, it is difficult to keep the supplies of spare parts on an appropriate level. The lack of diagnosing respective machines forces such companies to keep high supplies of all the types of spare parts what generates additional costs. Frequently, there are also situations when mechanics do not know where a specific part is located and a warehouse covers a large space of the plant. Also non-rotating parts are problematic which only take space in a warehouse and are frozen funds which cannot be used.


Obviously, there are much more consequences of an ill-considered approach to maintenance. Some of them are more severe, others less, but all of them hinder the productive activity. Some of them may cause company’s stagnation and lack of development what in the context of a growing competence, becomes a serious threat.

Therefore, it is worth looking at our own activities within this area and start the implementation of a preventive approach as soon as possible which is aimed at the considered planning of activities and preventing failures and unpredicted downtimes.

See more on our blog

More articles