Preventive Maintenance: Pay Now or Pay (More) Later

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Maintenance preventive


It’s safe to say that being proactive is almost always less costly that being reactive. Take your car, for example…the cost of performing regularly scheduled maintenance (oil changes, tire rotation, etc.) is minimal in comparison to replacing a blown motor or investing in a set of new tires. The same principle applies to a facility’s electrical power system. Studies have shown a direct correlation between the level of maintenance and the reliability of the electrical equipment.

Facility managers should know what the monetary impact of an unplanned outage means to their respective operations. However, when an unplanned power outage happens, the focus is usually on restoring power as quickly as possible and at all costs. Often, the tangible and intangible costs are not accounted for during the event. The best way to avoid this financial impact is to reduce the risk of an unplanned outage, which requires time, effort, planning and money.

A generally-accepted industry rule of thumb states that reactive maintenance is three to four times more costly than preventive maintenance. However, a rule of thumb statistic can be hard to sell to management when budgets are tight. John Campbell, P.D. and Andrew Jardine, Ph.D. addressed the rule of thumb and quantified the cost saving potential by proposing that maintenance work can be broken down into three categories, each with an assigned cost unit: 1) planned activities, 2) unplanned activities and 3) emergency or breakdown activities.


Their book, Maintenance Excellence, Optimizing Equipment Life Cycle Decisions (2001: Marcel Dekker, Inc.) focuses on the profitability potential of implementing proactive maintenance strategies. They provide strategies and tools for maximizing the productivity of physical assets.

A growing industry trend is the introduction of service plans, also called maintenance agreements. Preventive maintenance programs are typically transaction based and equipment focused. Service plans focusing on the entire electrical system. In addition, billing can usually be structured to provide a fixed payment schedule for the duration of the service plan and one plan can typically cover the entire electrical system, even different manufacturers’ equipment.