What is equipment maintenance?
Equipment maintenance refers to maintenance activities performed by businesses to keep their equipment in proper working order
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What is equipment maintenance?

In addition to inventory management, equipment maintenance includes both upkeep that is performed regularly, including proactive maintenance, as well as any necessary maintenance tasks.

Types of equipment that need to be properly maintained on a regular basis include vehicle fleets, computer systems, tools, construction equipment, industrial and/or manufacturing equipment, and any other assets your business relies on in order to operate.

The success of your business is dependent on how well your equipment functions. While it is important to keep costs down, it is equally important to make strategic investments in equipment maintenance to avoid failure of your most valuable assets. Performing routine maintenance tasks such as keeping a maintenance checklist and having a maintenance process can help keep this from happening.

Having a strategic plan for maintaining your equipment can prevent costly breakdowns and downtimes and help your business get the most value out of its assets.

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Types of equipment maintenance

There are four main types of equipment maintenance that companies typically practice.

Preventive maintenance

Preventive maintenance is maintenance that is carried out on a regular schedule in order to reduce the risk of equipment failures. For example, if your business depends on heavy equipment, which includes cranes, forklifts, bulldozers and any heavy vehicles designed for construction purposes, your maintenance plan should include regular oil changes and lubrication.

Learn more about preventive maintenance
Predictive maintenance

Like preventive maintenance, predictive maintenance is a proactive approach to maintaining equipment functionality and extending lifespan. Unlike preventive maintenance however, predictive maintenance relies on real-time data about a piece of equipment’s condition to predict when it will fail. This data is provided using a network of sensors embedded in physical objects known as The Internet of Things, or IoT. Maintenance software such as enterprise asset management (EAM) or a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) centralizes maintenance information and facilitiates the processes of maintenance operations. 


Reactive maintenance

Reactive maintenance, or corrective maintenance, refers to a strategy of repairing equipment once it has broken down. This type of approach is based on the belief that costs sustained during downtime or as a result of necessary repair are typically lower than that of a regular maintenance program. While fine for low-cost, low-importance pieces of equipment this approach can have a negative impact on the life cycle of your most critical assets.

Run-to-failure maintenance

Run-to-failure maintenance is a maintenance strategy that relies on using assets until they break down completely and must be replaced. This maintenance plan is typically only effective if the cost of replacing a piece of equipment is less costly than repairing it using another maintenance strategy.

Benefits of equipment maintenance
Reduced maintenance costs

Regularly scheduled maintenance prevents equipment breakdowns that cost companies hundreds of millions of dollars every year. Some examples of recent incidents include:

  • 2015: A store outage cost a massive tech company USD 25,000,000.00 (1)
  • 2016: A power outage at a major airline caused the cancellation of 2,000 flights and an estimated loss of USD 150,000,000.00 (2)
  • 2019: An outage cost a giant social media company an estimated USD 90,000,000.00 (3)
Increased worker safety

Proper maintenance management keeps employees safer according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) (link resides outside ibm.com). Their research found a strong link between poor equipment maintenance and workplace injuries—even fatalities. Researchers estimated that 35% of workplace incidents were related to failures of equipment.

Extended equipment lifecycle

In addition to reducing costs associated with downtime, proper equipment maintenance preserves equipment for longer, meaning it doesn’t have to be replaced as often. Thanks to modern tools such as IoT and EAM software which allow for real-time monitoring of performance, businesses are extending the lifespans of their most valuable assets.

Industries that perform equipment maintenance

A broad range of industries rely on equipment maintenance to streamline their maintenance services and keep their equipment running smoothly.

  • Manufacturing: Equipment maintenance in the manufacturing industry is critical to keeping industrial plants and facilities running and ensuring that their production capacities are maximized. 
  • Information technology (IT): Equipment maintenance in the IT sector helps restore system availability following incidents and outages so that downtime can be kept to a minimum.
  • Aerospace and transportation: In the aerospace and transportation industries an effective equipment maintenance program helps keep planes, automobiles and other vehicles running smoothly and minimizes downtime as a result of equipment breakdown.
  • Oil and gas: Equipment maintenance plays a crucial role in the parts, manufacturing and maintenance of machinery that is used to extract, transport and store natural resources. Examples include oil platforms, drilling apparatus, ships and other vehicular transport, refineries and pipelines.
  • Utilities: Equipment maintenance in the utilities industry helps reduce the time required to repair power distribution assets and restore power to customers following an outage. This includes the maintenance and regular repair of trucks, power lines, cables, tools, power plants and generators.
  • Healthcare: Perhaps no other industry has more at stake than the healthcare industry when it comes to equipment maintenance. Hospitals and other healthcare facilities rely on maintenance programs to keep life-saving equipment such as defibrillators, ventilators, diagnostic machines, resuscitators, patient transport vehicles and many more in working condition.
  • Hospitality: Equipment maintenance is critical to hotels, restaurants and bars that must maintain complex systems that their staff and customers can rely on such as HVACs, elevators, plumbing, lighting and food preparation and cleaning equipment.
Roles in equipment maintenance

A maintenance team is composed of a variety of different roles that are crucial in preventing equipment downtime, heavy machinery breakdowns and costly repair work. While some of the roles on your team will focus on emergency maintenance, others will handle equipment management and routine maintenance procedures.

Maintenance managers

A maintenance manager is critical in developing and implementing your equipment maintenance strategy, managing staff, supervising work and budgeting/forecasting for any future repairs.

Maintenance technicians

A maintenance technician is a highly skilled worker that performs both regular maintenance tasks as well as repairs that arise from breakdowns.

Maintenance engineers

A Maintenance engineer ensures that equipment is installed and running smoothly. Their background in engineering helps them perform regular diagnostic testing and managerial duties as well as more hands-on repair work.

Equipment maintenance solutions
Asset management IBM Maximo® Application Suite

Intelligent asset management, monitoring, predictive maintenance and reliability in a single platform.

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Equipment maintenance resources What is preventive maintenance?
Learn about preventive maintenance which allows your organization to fix your most valuable assets before they break.
Why you need an intelligent asset management strategy now
More than two-thirds of data that organizations collect goes unused resulting in performance and reliability issues.
IBM Technology Lifecycle Services IBM Hardware and IBM Software Maintenance services
Choose flexible single-source support to boost your IT availability and reduce costs.
Take the next step

Unlock the full potential of your enterprise assets by using IBM Maximo Application Suite to unify maintenance, inspection and reliability systems into one platform. It’s an integrated cloud-based solution that harnesses the power of AI, IoT, and advanced analytics to maximize asset performance, extend asset lifecycles, minimize operational costs and reduce downtime.

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Gamet, Jeff, “App Store Downtime Cost Apple USD25M in Sales”, macobserver.com, March 12th, 2015, https://www.macobserver.com/tmo/article/app-store-downtime-cost-apple-25m-in-sales (link resides outside ibm.com)

Dustin, Jeffrey, “Power outage at Delta causes flight cancellations, delays”, Reuters.com, August 8th, 2016, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-delta-air-outages/power-outage-at-delta-causes-flight-cancellations-delays-idUSKCN10J0VP (link resides outside ibm.com)

Rocker, Thomas, “Facebook returns after its worst outage ever”, Theverge.com, March 14, 2019, https://www.theverge.com/2019/3/14/18265185/facebook-instagram-whatsapp-outage-2019-return-back (link resides outside ibm.com)