Understanding Maintenance Types


Reactive: Something just broke, we need to fix it.

Preventive: Experts and manufacturers say something might break. We need to fix it when they say to fix it.

Predictive: Our technologies say something is about to break, so we need to fix it.

Proactive: Technology says something is about to break. We need to fix it and figure out what caused it.


The terms reactive, predictive, preventive and proactive maintenance are used a lot. Unfortunately, there is some confusion about where these terms should be used.  Here is a guide to the proper use of these maintenance terms.

Reactive maintenance is reacting to a situation as it occurs.  It is the most basic type of maintenance. There is virtually no thought put into this type of maintenance, and is the least cost effective – allowing extended downtime, unplanned outages and overtime to occur.

Preventive maintenance involves schedules and routines.  The manufacturer recommends a lubricant change at 400 hours, so the lube change is scheduled to occur as close to 400 hours as possible.  This is fairly easy to implement and is far more cost effective than reactive maintenance. However, it takes no outside influences into account, thus there is still unplanned downtime.

Predictive maintenance allows technology to look at each system and component individually and apply maintenance as it is needed.  This can be expensive to set up and develop. However, once the program is established and maintained with properly trained and educated personnel, it will save far more money over time than a preventive maintenance program.

Proactive maintenance takes predictive maintenance further, figuring out there is a problem and then asking: What caused the problem? Could it have been prevented? How can it be fixed? The question is then pushed to resolution.  It is predictive maintenance with an added RCA component.

Have questions? Contact our data analysis team directly using the call number on your report.

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