Planned vs. Reactive Maintenance: Which is Better?

When it comes to building and asset maintenance, there are many approaches to take, but two of the most widely used are planned preventative and reactive. Of course, this naturally fuels the ‘planned vs reactive maintenance’ debate and it’s something businesses have to consider when establishing and implementing maintenance plans. 

So, when discussing planned vs reactive maintenance, which is considered to be the best? While there are varied opinions about this topic and companies who prefer one or the other, we’re going to take a look into both practices and discuss their pros and cons. 

Planned vs Reactive Maintenance 

Planned Preventative Maintenance 

Planned maintenance’ is a term used to describe forms of maintenance designed to prolong the lifespan of assets, resources, equipment and a business’s infrastructure. Also, it offers the means to prevent the breakdown and malfunction of equipment and the expenses and downtime it incurs. For some, planned maintenance can be simple tasks such as cleaning and monitoring asset conditions. Whereas for others, it can consist of more complex tasks such as replacing parts or repairs. 

While planned maintenance has been practised for many years, it has advanced considerably with the evolution of technology. Today, businesses have a wealth of tools and services available to them to increase maintenance efficiency and productivity while reducing the costs involved. 

Reactive Maintenance

As you can guess from the name, reactive maintenance is performed when an asset has broken down or is underperforming — maintenance as a ‘reaction’ to an issue. Reactive maintenance is important for restoring or replacing broken equipment and ensuring business operations are up and running without delay or additional problems. 

However, reactive maintenance isn’t always the most efficient approach, as a great deal of the maintenance issues businesses face can be prevented with planned maintenance. This exact point is essentially the foundation of the planned vs reactive maintenance debate. And while reactive maintenance can assume a role within a business’s maintenance plan, it should never be considered to be your primary solution for maintaining your facility. 


Planned Maintenance: Pros & Cons 


  • Minimise Downtime 

Preventing downtime, delays and ensuring daily operations are running at all times is essential for any business. Doing so maximises profits, increases business growth, and maintains a good brand reputation. And it just so happens that reducing and preventing downtime is one of the critical benefits of planned maintenance. Planned maintenance helps maximise the uptime of assets and prevents significant, unforeseen repairs and breakdowns. These types of incidents cost more and are a headache for facility managers, as they can take longer to remedy whilst spare parts are being ordered and unforeseen works are scheduled into contractors’ already-full diaries. During this time, your facility will either have to close or operate at sub-optimal capacity.  

Planned preventative maintenance schedules can be used to define the maintenance plan for a building or estate. 

  • Increase Safety 

Safety is a primary objective for all organisations, and maintenance is a vital aspect of establishing, maintaining and improving workplace safety. Planned maintenance schedules provide various benefits regarding safety, such as reducing malfunctions and deterioration of assets, protecting from health hazards, and avoiding liability lawsuits. 

These risks - and more - can be avoided with planned maintenance, as you'll be able to implement a compliant, regular, reliable and effective maintenance regime. Meaning you'll be aware of safety or efficiency concerns more quickly and have the ability to act right away and prevent hazards. 

  • Reduce Costs & Energy Consumption 

Planned maintenance and its benefits can save businesses money. As you will always be aware of when maintenance will occur and needs to happen, you'll never use systems and equipment to the point of failure. Meaning you'll also avoid the significant expense it leads to, and organisations who invest in planned maintenance experience less breakdowns and fewer disruptions to their business. Of course, this saves money on large-scale repairs and maximises profits through minimal downtime. 

Another critical factor to consider is energy consumption. Poorly maintained electrical assets or malfunctioning equipment consume more energy than those that operate as they should. Planned maintenance and proactive scheduling ensure facility managers identify issues early on and address them as soon as possible. By doing so, they avoid crippling energy bills and adopt more environmentally-friendly practices. 


  • The Need for Effective Planning 

One area that may prove a challenge for some organisations is an increased need for planning (as the name suggests). Fortunately, planned maintenance software can support facility managers with effective scheduling. 

  • Initial Costs 

Compared to reactive maintenance, planned maintenance does require more initial financial investment during the setup and implementation stages. This can put some people off. However, it's important to remember that you'll be spending more money now to ensure your assets operate efficiently and for their full lifespan, minimising costly replacement of equipment. 


Reactive Maintenance: Pros & Cons 


  • Minimal Planning Required 

As you will be responding to issues and concerns as and when they occur, reactive maintenance means there’s little required in the way of maintenance planning. This means you won’t have to spend time or money on planned maintenance or create maintenance schedules. 

  • Simplistic System 

When your business experiences issues with systems or equipment, as long as you have a reactive maintenance provider available, you can call them out to fix the problem. 

  • No Regular Maintenance Costs 

With reactive maintenance, you won't have regular maintenance costs. You'll simply pay for services, parts and repairs when something needs replacing or fixing. However, as we mentioned earlier, the cost of broken equipment tends to be much higher than those requiring regular maintenance. 


  • More Substantial Costs 

A reactive maintenance system means you will only ‘react’ when a system or piece of equipment breaks down or malfunctions. Issues such as this tend to require more substantial repairs or complete replacements, both of which come at a heftier cost compared to start up costs of planned maintenance. 

  • Risky Strategy 

Every business is unique and naturally has their own ideas about what maintenance is best suited to their needs, but it’s important to recognise the risks associated with reactive maintenance, including the fact that it is extremely likely that your business’s maintenance is not compliant with UK legislation. When it comes to planned vs reactive maintenance, one of the key benefits of the former is the awareness you have about the condition of assets.  

With reactive maintenance you’re pretty much in the dark until something goes wrong, for which you then have to scramble to fix it — failing to do so quickly comes at a cost and leads to additional problems for your business (downtime, etc.). 

  • Impact to Profits 

Unexpected repairs, replacing parts or completely replacing assets comes at a serious cost — costs that will need to be incorporated into your business’s budget. Not to mention how unexpected issues can lead to lengthy downtimes or the need to operate with reduced capacity. Whether it’s additional costs, downtime or lower productivity due to maintenance issues — profits will take a hit, which isn’t good news for any business. 

  • Time Wasted 

Equipment or machinery breakdowns and the need for irregular maintenance callouts are both costly and time-consuming. If vital assets are broken or not operating as designed, it causes significant downtime and reduced efficiency. It is unlikely that spare parts are always on hand, or that engineers are available to fix the issues straight away. If you're in the midst of a high priority project or have clients with high expectations, downtime and missed deadlines can have a considerable impact on your reputation. 

  • Environmental impact 

The circular economy relates to carbon contained in building fabric and equipment. Maintenance teams need to consider how the business is optimising use of equipment to reduce waste. Assets that do not realise their intended lifespan result in a larger carbon footprint, driven by replacing equipment earlier than those assets that are correctly maintained and last longer. 


Get Started with Planned Maintenance  

Are you interested in planned maintenance for your business? SFG20 is the definitive standard for planned maintenance. Our dynamic online service provides users with access to a library of over 2000 maintenance schedules, dynamically updated to meet legislation and regulatory updates. This allows facility managers to create a compliant and bespoke maintenance plan for their buildings and estates. 

At SFG20, we offer tailored maintenance solutions to suit the needs of a wide range of industries and businesses, large and small. We provide businesses with the industry-standard benchmark to work to. Planning and executing efficient and effective maintenance has never been as quick and easy. 

Improve your business with planned maintenance today! Request a demo or get in touch with our helpful team if you have any questions.