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Repair & maintenance: what’s the Difference?

Maintenance and repair are two essential concepts in the field of Facility Management. Find out the main differences!

Maintenance and repair are two terms used in Facility Management, sometimes interchangeably.

In fact, these two concepts share the same goal, which is to keep the assets functioning, but have a completely different meaning. This article will help you find out more.

If your job is to ensure the correct functionality of compnay assets or to provide for the management of buildings and/or infrastructure, remember that you can always get help from a Facility Management software. In fact, both maintenance and repair activities allow you to take advantage of the cloud system and monitor the performance of your assets. Consequently, you can schedule, track and manage any repair or maintenance work by carrying out inspections and checks in real time.

What is the difference between maintenance and  repair?

Regardless of the sector in which you operate, maintenance and repair activities are both essential to ensure that the equipment stays operational over time and minimize the negative consequences resulting from unplanned failures and downtime. While sharing the same objective, these operations nevertheless present substantial differences, mainly concerning the timing and methods of implementation.

Repairs can actually represent restorative interventions that are performed when an asset breaks down, is damaged or stops working. Maintenance, on the other hand, includes all routine activities and preventive or corrective actions aimed at prolonging the life expectancy of the equipment and preventing the occurrence of errors, interruptions and sudden malfunctions.

In this article, we will try to illustrate these two different aspects of Facility Management in a little more detail.

The definition of repair

The term “repair” means a corrective action that is taken to fix or correct a fault. When a fault occurs, it is possible to implement different levels of repair on the asset. These depend on the type and extent of malfunction that occurs within the equipment. We can distinguish the following error categories:

  • total failures: refer to malfunctions that make assets nonfunctional until they are repaired. These problems cause a complete asset downtime which cannot be used, nor can it perform its function until it is restored to working condition. Total failures are often the cause of more or less extended unscheduled downtime, and require emergency interventions that are more expensive than simple routine maintenance;
  • partial failures are those that only partially affect the proper functioning of a system. In the event of a partial failure, it is generally possible to continue using the system but with reduced performance and efficiency and with the risk of unexpected safety problems. The maintenance team can perform quick corrective actions to restore the full functionality of the equipment before the identified problem turns into a total failure.

Failures that occur suddenly usually require quite high costs for their resolution and can cause significant losses in terms of productivity and efficiency. Although these errors cannot be completely avoided (owing to the natural wear and tear of assets or the occurrence of accidents and unforeseen events) it is possible, however, to reduce their frequency by adopting a proactive approach and resorting to scheduled maintenance strategies.

Specialized technician performing a repair operation

Specialized technician performing a repair operation

Definition of maintenance

Maintenance refers to the work done to preserve the functionality, performance, safety and durability of an equipment so as to maintain assets in good operational status.

There are different types of maintenance that can be combined and matched according to different factors (such as the area of application, the type of resources, the experience of the maintenance team, etc.). Common strategies include, for example,

  • reactive maintenance, which is performed only after a problem arises. Yet, it requires a minimum of programming and can be applied to equipment that is not particularly essential in the production cycle.
    When reactive maintenance is not implemented strategically, the resulting disadvantages can be significant. If the corrective approach is applied interchangeably to all equipment (including critical equipment), enormous production delays can occur in the event of failure, and maintenance costs necessarily get higher;
  • preventive maintenance, which requires assets inspection and/or repair at predetermined intervals. This approach is intended to extend the asstes useful life and prevent the occurrence of errors and sudden interruptions. Many of the organizations performing preventive maintenance use Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) software to plan different tasks and manage work orders. This allows a facility to have much of its programming automated, with obvious advantages in terms of efficiency and productivity, as well as savings on maintenance time and costs;
  • predictive maintenance, which has the exact purpose of predicting when a fault will occur and allows the necessary measures to be taken in advance to avoid it or, at least, reduce its negative effects. The predictive approach involves monitoring the performance and condition of plants during regular activities, and leverages artificial intelligence to inform the maintenance team when an equipment is at failure risk;
  • reliability-centered maintenance, which aims at increasing the availability and reliability of goods. This strategy involves the analysis of all possible failure modes for each equipment and the creation of a personalized maintenance plan for every single machine.
Facility managers engaged in monitoring and maintenance activities

Facility managers engaged in monitoring and maintenance activities

How to optimize maintenance and repair activities

Whatever the type of activity, a maintenance management system will help you both centralize the data of your interest making it easily accessible at every stage, and simplify your work through a series of integrated functions, which include the below:

  • asset monitoring;
  • better asset management;
  • the planning of activities;
  • the management of work orders;
  • monitoring the performance of the systems;
  • tracking failure rates (MTBF, MTTF, MTTR);
  • incident management;
  • reports creation.

To make the management of each repair or maintenance activity easy and effective, I recommend that you use a Facility Management software immediately. You can collect and centralize all the information regarding the life cycle of your equipment and schedule every single maintenance or repair intervention, greatly reducing the response times necessary for the resolution of problems and the completion of activities.