Preventive vs Corrective vs Intelligent vs Proactive Maintenance

Ask any business owner around and you will realize that the end goal of any company is to optimize efficiency and reduce losses to the barest minimum. This seemingly obvious fact is the reason why so many organizations today are out of business. In fact, the ability to avoid contingencies is one skill every manager should learn and instill in other employees.

One of the best and most effective ways of doing this is by practicing a “maintenance culture”. In essence, this is the ability to constantly establish consistent practices in a bid to enhance the performance of machines and also to guarantee the safety of employees.

To start with, there are several categories of maintenance and they serve different purposes. This post is devoted to explaining the different types of maintenance, comparing each with the other to identify their strengths and cons.

The Most Common Types of Maintenance
Below is a list of 4 of the most popular types of maintenance in use today.
1. Preventive maintenance
2. Corrective maintenance
3. Intelligent maintenance
4. Proactive maintenance
While it might appear as though the names are self-explanatory, there’s a lot more to each type of maintenance. Let’s go through each type.

Preventive Maintenance

When you hear the word “preventive”, you automatically know that we’re putting in work to ensure that certain operations are not stalled. Basically, preventive maintenance has to do with scheduled or pre-planned measures put in place to ensure that an equipment is functioning properly.
On several occasions, such a maintenance is scheduled beforehand and this makes it very easy to track and adhere to. Think of situations where your fire extinguisher is checked after a certain time before it is tagged fit for use. For car users, the regular servicing or replacement of certain parts in the vehicle is a type of preventive maintenance.
One drawback of this maintenance style is that it is not ideal for machines that are constantly in use. Remember how terrible you feel when you have to leave your vehicle with the mechanic for a couple of hours when maintenance is being done? In fact, some PC users keep on postponing their scheduled OS update just because they cannot afford to lose their precious gadget.
Still on the issue of preventive maintenance, there are two outcomes that some business managers & individuals experience when things are not done accordingly. When done wrongly, preventive maintenance either leads to under-maintenance or over-maintenance.

What is Under-Maintenance?
Under-maintenance means that the preventive maintenance is not sufficient to ensure the proper functioning of the machine. Perhaps, the timeframe was too lax, or the maintenance was done in a hurry. Either way, under-maintenance is not a scenario anyone wants to experience.
This is because the next maintenance that is carried out will most likely involve heavy cost, it will also bring about significant downtime. If care is not taken, under-maintenance will eventually cause severe damage to the machine.

What is Over-Maintenance?
As unlikely as it seems, over-maintenance is another serious cause of damage to devices. In a bid to avoid common failures, the company will end up becoming vulnerable to unintended damage and other unwanted outcomes. This is why it is recommended that only a professional is tasked with preventive maintenance of your machines.
Compared to other types of maintenance categories discussed here, this is the most labor-intensive process and there are several failures that might occur. But the good side is that it drastically reduces the cost of total maintenance if done properly.

Predictive Maintenance

This method is also referred to as condition-based maintenance and it uses predetermined and preset variables or conditions to initiate a maintenance. The way it works is that certain pre-defined conditions are set and any deviation from this threshold will relay a message to the appropriate authorities, informing them that a type of maintenance is needed.
In essence, predictive maintenance, as the name implies, is all about understanding the machine and then addressing any observed issue just before it escalates. This means that the owner is taking a proactive step to ensure that breakdown doesn’t occur due to any fault.
Also, predictive maintenance is perfect because it helps technicians to quickly identify the source of the problem and the issue is addressed with utmost urgency. The intersect with preventive maintenance is that a predictive maintenance process can also identify any maintenance needed in the machine in the future and then schedule a regular maintenance for such a fault.

Intelligent Maintenance

We’re in the smart age; where machines can communicate with humans and relay vital information in the process. In this arrangement, data is collected from the machine and this data is analyzed in a bid to identify imminent failures. Any potential risk associated with the operation of the machine is mitigated and an alarm or a set of instructions is spelled out to carry out the maintenance.
How are we able to make sense of the data provided by machines? Through the use of advanced sensors, sophisticated systems for collecting data, enhanced big data processing tools, and a host of others.
The field of intelligent maintenance emerged as a result of the advancement in the field of computing and manufacturing. Intelligent systems were engendered to keep u with the rapid development of machines.

Proactive Maintenance

The aim of this method is to carry out activities that preclude common activities leading to damage or fault. We can also say that proactive maintenance is directed at the root cause of the failure, not necessarily the symptoms that occur as a result of the damage.
So, in this practice, it is common to see repairs being carried out even when there’s no obvious malfunction. It is also normal to experience failure when practicing proactive maintenance.


It is tempting to conclude with a sentence that shows why one practice is king over the other, however, that is not expedient. Different approaches work for different companies and it is always good to identify which will work best for you.

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