Emergency maintenance: what it is, types and examples
Emergency maintenance is an urgent intervention applied in case of an unexpected asset failure. Let’s discover together definition and types.
If you are a professional in the AECO sector, you will surely have faced an unexpected breakdown on an asset with the utmost urgency.
Well, you are not alone! Unfortunately, this type of unexpected events can happen when dealing with asset maintenance. The obvious consequence is the performance of emergency maintenance.
Today, we will go through the different types, the steps to follow and the facility management software to use so as not to be prepared!
What is emergency maintenance?
Emergency maintenance is that type of maintenance that becomes necessary when an asset or a part of it is subject to unexpected malfunction. This could represent a threat to the safety of users. Therefore, an emergency intervention is necessary.
It’s clear that this type of maintenance is not scheduled, being an emergency. However, a well thought maintenance plan will also include an emergency plan to tackle unexpected failures.
Emergency maintenance examples
In the asset management phase, there are many cases requiring emergency maintenance and they also depend on the surrounding conditions. If, for example, an elevator breaks down, this same event may or may not require emergency intervention depending on the specific circumstance. If the elevator is blocked without people inside, the maintenance intervention is not classified as an emergency intervention. On the contrary, if the elevator shows a fault and people are stuck inside it, then the intervention will certainly be tackled with a matter of urgence.
The most common scenarios that require the activation of emergency maintenance are listed below:
- the occurrence of a fault that could represent a safety hazard. The example of the elevator that we have just reported fits perfectly;
- the occurrence of a fault that leads to the unexpected non-use of the entire asset, to a production downtime or to the interruption of a service (failure of the HVAC system);
- the automatic interruption of service for safety reasons, when, for example, a fault could affect the rest of the system.
Types of emergency maintenance and responses
The types of emergency maintenance are classified according to the origin of the fault notification, which can be automatic or sent manually.
This leads to
- automated emergency maintenance: in the presence of a fault or malfunction that is automatically detected. The system acts automatically by interrupting, for example, the production or delivery of energy or starts an automatic process of intervention on the fault;
- automatic maintenance response: in this case, an emergency intervention protocol is automatically activated in response to a serious fault. The above-mentioned example of the elevator failure could be part of this scenario;
- manual intervention request: in this case, the fault report and the intervention request are done by the users or by the personnel present on site.
Difference between emergency maintenance and reactive maintenance
Both emergency maintenance and reactive maintenance require an intervention on breakdown to restore the initial operating conditions of the asset. However, what distinguishes the two types of maintenance is precisely the urgency of the intervention, which depends on the type of failure and the specific conditions in which it occurs.
The main difference, however, is based on a few points:
- when the fault occurs;
- how urgent it is to repair.
In reactive maintenance, a fault occurs and therefore a repair operation is necessary. However, the failure may not affect the safety of users or the functionality of the asset. It would therefore be a non-emergency failure requiring reactive maintenance rather than emergency maintenance. It is in this urgency that the main difference between emergency maintenance and reactive maintenance lies.
What are the 4 steps to follow for an effective emergency maintenance procedure?
Let’s start by saying that drafting an accurate maintenance plan does not eliminate exceptional and unexpected events. In fact, the chance that these occur, over time, are always very high. For this reason, it is common practice to provide protocols to be followed in case the need for emergency interventions arises. This minimizes safety risks and prevents collateral damage.
Here are the 4 steps to follow for an effective emergency maintenance procedure:
- identify and define the emergencies:
according to the facility for which maintenance is being planned, there will be certain situations to be labelled as emergencies and others that, although urgent, will not require the same reactivity;
- define the emergency maintenance workflow:
it is necessary to decide how emergency maintenance situations will be reported, recorded and addressed starting from a fault report that can be automatic or manual;
- describe emergency maintenance procedures:
it is useful to describe, at least in a general way, the steps to follow in case it is necessary to intervene urgently. The protocol to be followed will clearly be different depending on the type of fault and the characteristics of the asset. In general, the steps could be the following:
- isolate the source of the fault so as to avoid collateral damage;
- notify the entire maintenance team and all users affected by the fault;
- proceed, if necessary, with the interruption of production or service;
- assess the extent of the damage and the general condition of the asset;
- plan the intervention;
- perform the intervention;
- implement the right maintenance software;
automate the asset management and maintenance through the use of a facility management software. This will help minimize the occurrence of unexpected failures and speed up the emergency response process.
Asset maintenance, especially if complex and large, can reserve unexpected surprises to respond with emergency interventions. It is essential not to be found unprepared and already know a general emergency protocol.
For this reason, I recommend the use of efficient and professional facility management software that helps you plan maintenance while minimizing the occurrence of unexpected failures.