run-to-failure maintenance

“Run to failure” maintenance: what’s it used for and when to implement it

Run to failure (RTF) is a maintenance strategy that involves scheduled interventions to faults that have already occurred. Find out when it is useful to implement it and what benefits it entails

Planning and implementing the management and maintenance of plants, buildings, infrastructure or any other asset can be a long and complicated job. Fortunately, to assist us there are specific facility management software tools that can simplify asset management regardless of the type of maintenance method that we decide to adopt. In this article, we take a look at a type of breakdown maintenance: the run to failure maintenance.

What is Run to Failure Maintenance (RTF)?

Run to failure maintenance, also know with the acronym RTF, is the planned corrective maintenance strategy that acts by intervening on faults or breakages that have already occurred. This type of maintenance approach uses resources throughout their lifetime, replacing or repairing them only when they fail and/or have stopped working, minimizing total maintenance costs.

However, the application of this maintenance strategy requires some measures such as:

  • know how to intervene and repair/replace;
  • already have equipment and spare parts available;
  • have availability of maintenance personnel;

It’s important that these precautions are taken before the failure occurs, in order to minimize the intervention time and prevent further damage or disruption.

What is the difference between “run to failure” maintenance and “reactive maintenance”?

Run to failure maintenance and reactive maintenance are both forms of faulty maintenance, but thedifference lies in the planning or not of the maintenance intervention and in the criticality of the fault. In particular:

  • run to failure is a corrective strategy planned and designed to minimize total maintenance costs. It involves planning the corrective actions to be taken after the failure. This type of maintenance is feasible on non-critical assets that do not affect the productivity or security of the organization.
  • reactive maintenance is an unplanned maintenance strategy that is executed when an asset suddenly fails causing it to stop therefore needing repairs so as to not to affect productivity or safety levels.

An example of run to failure maintenance?

An example of run-to-failure maintenance could be a parts replacement within an asset whose failure does not cause other drawbacks to other resource or does not generate service interruptions to users.

Changing a light bulb, for example, can safely fall within a run to failure maintenance plan. This is because when a light bulb stops working:

  • there are still other light bulbs that are in good operating order to illuminate the room;
  • having a stock of spare LED lights is easy to handle and doesn’t require costly investments;
  • failure to operate for a short period of time doesn’t pose any risk to user’s safety.

Remember that there isn’t always a single maintenance strategy suitable for a single asset, but you can combine multiple types of maintenance according to the resource involved. It is likely, therefore, that within the maintenance plan a run to failure maintenance strategy will be applied on most resources, or parts of them, whose non-operation does not cause any safety risks. In addition, it can be repaired afterwards by making the most of the resource generating increased savings on the total costs of the intervention.

Run to failure workflow

Run to failure workflow

When and why is run to failure maintenance useful?

Run to failure maintenance is useful when applying other types of maintenance methods is more expensive than replacing the resource itself. The previous LED light example turns out useful: it’s more convenient, both from an economic point of view and from the logics of the intervention, to intervene on a faulty lamp device rather than to change it, for prevention purposes, when it is still working.

Therefore, if the failure has a minimal impact on the overall performance of the asset, a run to failure approach is preferable rather than a preventive maintenance methodology.

In general, run to failure maintenance is suitable for:

  • resources with a short useful life that can therefore simply be replaced at the end of their life cycle;
  • assets that by their very nature are defined as “disposable”;
  • assets, and/or parts thereof, that are durable and associated with a low risk of failure;
  • non-critical assets whose failure does not affect the use of the rest of the asset;
  • resources on which it is difficult to apply other maintenance methods.

How to implement run to failure maintenance in your maintenance plan?

In order to successfully implement this type of maintenance, some measures will be sufficient, including:

  • a good inventory and availability of spare parts in order to quickly remedy the failure by replacing the part in whole or in part;
  • personnel who are prepared and willing to act quickly to avoid further damages,
  • maintenance planning through support of specific facility management software that helps plan activities, manage work orders and tickets in an integrated manner in order to optimize resources and reduce interference.

What are the benefits of run to failure maintenance?

This particular type of maintenance must be applied only after a careful risk assessment associated with the failure of the various parts of the asset, avoiding more serious damage. Despite this, when applicable, run to failure maintenance involves some advantages that need to be taken into account:

  1. minimum planning – acting on a fault that has already occurred, it is not necessary to schedule the interventions before but will only intervene later in relation to the damage;
  2. ease of implementation – implementing faulty interventions, having pieces and personnel available, is easy and intuitive;
  3. low maintenance costs – using resources until the end of their life cycle can reduce downtime and avoid working on parts that are still working. However, this applies only to assets that are quick and easy to replace and especially to parts of assets considered as “non-critical”.
Advantages of Run to Failure

Benefits of Run to Failure maintenance

This is one of the most delicate phases of the entire life cycle of an asset and, although there are various types of maintenance applicable, it is essential to make use of specific tools.

This is basically the reason why I recommend you try a facility management software that helps you plan, manage and track maintenance activities to achieve a reduction in maintenance time and costs.