By Dave Clifton
Facility maintenance takes many forms depending on the approach. For most of us, corrective maintenance examples are the most recognizable—maintenance that resolves a problem before it becomes a bigger one. It’s a type of maintenance used to rectify a problem as opposed to preventive maintenance which, you guessed it, prevents a problem.
Corrective maintenance plays an important role within the broader scope of maintenance operations. And while it’s not always the best course of action, it’s often the most practical in facilities. Outside of essential systems, the prevailing theory is often, “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it.” As a result, corrective maintenance is often the default approach.
What is corrective maintenance?
Corrective maintenance is a self-explanatory term. It’s ordered to correct an inefficiency or small issue that could result in a bigger problem. The faucet has already begun leaking; corrective maintenance will fix the leak and solve the problem before it causes water damage, which would require full-blown repair.
If we think of maintenance as a spectrum—from proactive to reactive—corrective maintenance is to the right of the scale, opposite preventive maintenance, but just short of reactive maintenance. It’s a reactive form of maintenance that restores whatever is broken to its standard form of operation.
Corrective maintenance is typically the default maintenance mode for anything not anticipated or tracked. For example, if you know the elevator needs servicing bi-annually, it’s not corrective maintenance when it comes up on the schedule. On the other hand, an unplanned decision to re-stripe the employee parking lot is a corrective action.
What is an example of corrective maintenance?
In an office environment, corrective maintenance can take many forms. Virtually any small unplanned issue can lead to corrective maintenance. The best example of good asset management through corrective maintenance is with the building itself.
While office structures require some maintenance, much of it falls into the corrective basket. Think about different materials. Take glass, for example. You don’t proactively maintain office windows (other than to clean them). Instead, you correctively maintain them if there’s a damage seal or a scratch in the pane. The same goes for an exposed brick wall or wooden joists, or tile flooring. There are very minor upkeep services involved with these materials, but no real maintenance—until it becomes a necessity. It’s difficult to be proactive when there’s nothing to be proactive about.
Corrective building maintenance is best-suited to fixing unanticipated problems and tending assets that otherwise need very little oversight. Not only does it allow for lower costs, it lets maintenance teams to redirect their attention to the systems that do qualify for a preventive or condition-based maintenance approach.
Other examples of corrective maintenance
The building isn’t the only contender for a corrective maintenance approach. Consider some of the other business assets that are relatively innocuous within the workplace, which don’t need oversight beyond corrective problems if and when they occur:
- Furniture upkeep falls into corrective territory. Other than an occasional cleaning to keep it fresh, furniture demands very little oversight. There are no consumables to contend with and nothing that might qualify for preventive repairs.
- Lighting is a corrective maintenance candidate. You wouldn’t replace a lightbulb that still works—unless it was to upgrade the bulb. Instead, you wait for the bulb to burn out before replacing it.
- Capital systems are sometimes subject to corrective maintenance. For example, if during a planned maintenance inspection a technician notices a problem causing inefficiency, corrective maintenance can restore it. It’s part of planned service initially, but the service delivered is corrective in nature.
Corrective maintenance may rely on a small problem developing to kickstart the process, but it’s an important opportunity to ensure bigger problems aren’t lurking down the line. If you fix a leaky faucet and the leak comes back a month later, you’re not performing corrective maintenance—you’re putting a bandage on the problem. True corrective maintenance fixes the issue so it doesn’t return.
Is corrective maintenance the best approach?
While waiting for a problem to develop might seem like the best approach to maintenance, that plan can backfire in a big way when it comes to capital systems. Consider something like HVAC maintenance. Would you rather budget $250 per quarter for inspections and service or $12,000 for a new system? Capital systems are evidence that corrective maintenance is part of a holistic maintenance approach—one that includes preventive, demand, and condition-based maintenance.
In many situations, corrective maintenance is the answer. There’s no reason to replace the copy machine toner until it’s depleted, for example. It’s all about knowing which maintenance approach is a best-fit for the asset you’re maintaining. Do a cost-benefit analysis to determine which maintenance mode is the most cost-efficient and least disruptive. More often than not, for stable assets, corrective maintenance is the right approach.
Keep reading: What is Facilities Maintenance Support Services?