Which Maintenance Program is Right for My Facility?

While preventive and predictive maintenance both play an important role in maintaining the overall health of your equipment, there are a few differences between these two types of maintenance. Which is best for your facility? Let’s consider the pros and cons.

Preventive Maintenance

Preventive maintenance is planned and takes place on a recurring basis. Think of it like getting an oil change. The oil may have several more miles of use left, but you don’t want to wait until the oil is bad to replace it. Equipment is more likely to fail with age, so preventive maintenance is the theory that regular maintenance should be completed to prevent failures before they happen.


  • Easy implementation
  • Decreases machine downtime


  • Requires extra labor since maintenance is performed based on time intervals rather than need
  • Technicians must be careful to only perform necessary adjustments during maintenance checks to prevent excess maintenance costs.
  • You might find yourself replacing parts that don’t need to be replaced.

Best Uses:

  • Machines that show wear at a known frequency
  • When condition monitoring is not an option
  • When the cost is less than machine failure

Predictive Maintenance

Predictive maintenance involves scheduled testing on regular intervals. Maintenance may be performed at the first sign of wear on a machine. This approach prevents machine failure without the strain of using unnecessary resources in times of optimal machine health.


  • Doesn’t waste labor
  • Reduces unscheduled downtime
  • Fewer parts kept on inventory


  • Components might be replaced sooner than needed.
  • Some machines have a quick failure curve and require more frequent monitoring than others
  • Some machines can move into a catastrophic failure much more quickly than others and may need special monitoring considerations.

Best Uses:

  • Machines that fail at an unknown frequency
  • Facilities with access to condition monitoring tools

Proactive Maintenance

We’re saving the best for last. Proactive maintenance is exactly as it is called…proactive! Rather than waiting for machine failures or regularly scheduled maintenance, proactive maintenance requires ongoing machine health monitoring. Under this approach, the machine tracking data is collected and analyzed on an ongoing basis so maintenance teams catch machine faults before they turn into failures. Unlike the previously named maintenance types, there really isn’t a con to proactive maintenance. However, there are several advantages:

  • Emphasis on finding the root cause of machine failures
  • Empower team members to become experts
  • Minimizes costs and downtime
  • Keep machines running at optimal levels consistently

Making a Plan

No matter what kind of maintenance plan you’re starting, you’ll need to take some of the same considerations into account. We have the following tips to help you get started:

  • Make a list of all the equipment in your facility and understand their criticality to your facility’s processes.
  • Determine which type of maintenance approach each piece of equipment requires. You’ll need a blended approach in most cases.
  • Get to know the inner workings of each piece of equipment. Save relevant information such as instruction manuals in a handy place. Should a failure occur, you’ll have easy access to machine information.
  • Audit your preventive or predictive maintenance plan periodically to see if there is room for process and technology improvements.

Tell us which maintenance program(s) you use in the comments. Connect with us to learn how our solutions can support the implementation of your maintenance program.

by Bridget Minner | March 2, 2021
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