Run to failure, (sometimes known as reactive maintenance) means doing zero preventive or planned asset maintenance and letting the equipment run until it fails. Although most industry experts agree that preventive maintenance (PM) results in lower operating costs and increased asset productivity, run to failure can make sense in certain situations. However, the decision to let equipment run until it breaks should be a conscious decision based on data analysis and strategic maintenance objectives and not a lack of planning on the part of facility management.

In the June issue of Plant Engineering Jim Freaner, senior director at Advanced Technology Services, discussed how every organization uses different maintenance strategies “to maintain mission-critical assets…”, some use predictive strategies, preventive maintenance, or even sometimes run to failure strategies.

When does it make sense to use run to failure (RTF) as a maintenance strategy?

Every asset should be individually analyzed to determine what maintenance approach supports the organization’s short and long-term goals and objectives. Here are three steps you can use to see if run-to-failure has a place in your asset management strategy:

Step One: Know the cost of the asset, both to purchase and to replace.

For inexpensive assets that are fast and easy to replace like a filter or a light bulb, it may be less expensive to practice “Fail and Replace” than to incur labor costs to perform preventive maintenance tasks.

Run to failure can also make sense if spare parts are readily available in spare parts inventory, and if labor costs to repair or replace the asset is cheaper than doing preventive maintenance.

Step Two: Know the labor costs associated with the life cycle of the asset under consideration.

Maintenance labor costs vary widely depending on the tasks and type of skilled labor required. Knowing what those labor costs are can help you make informed decisions. You should be able to track and analyze the labor costs for:

  • Preventive maintenance (PM) tasks
  • The most common repairs to the asset when it breaks
  • Replacing assets when it fails

Step Three: Know the downtime and related costs associated with the asset failure.

Downtime costs include both labor costs to restore the asset to functional status and “secondary damage” that may occur as a result of the asset failure.

Before deciding on a run to failure approach, consider potential secondary damage complications. In many cases, the secondary damage resulting from the primary asset failure may far exceed the cost and consequences of the original asset breakdown.

This could be due to:

  • Increased costs due to unplanned equipment downtime
  • Increased overtime labor costs to repair or replace parts
  • Additional damage/failure to other equipment
  • Safety or security issues
  • Facility user comfort or satisfaction levels

Understanding what the total downtime costs are for every asset will give you a true picture of the complete costs of a run to failure strategy for each asset under consideration.

The primary objective of a strategic maintenance plan is to optimize equipment efficiency, reduce operational costs, and increase productivity. Meeting those goals requires a balanced approach that may include preventive maintenance (PM), predictive maintenance (PdM), and run to failure (RTF) as best determined by careful data analysis, strategic maintenance decisions, and continual improvement processes.

Eagle Technology, Inc. is a leading provider of Computerized Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS) for facility management worldwide. Eagle’s powerful Proteus software can help you lower costs, reduce capital expenditures, and improve asset performance and longevity using a variety of asset management strategies.

If you are interested in learning more about Proteus MMX, its maintenance management capabilities, and the benefits it holds for your organization,  call +1 (262) 241-3845, send an emailor schedule a demo with Eagle today.