Proactive Maintenance

Proactive maintenance is a strategy based on identifying the root causes leading to equipment failure and using this information to anticipate or reduce breakdowns or performance degradation and extend equipment life. Rather than emphasizing the symptoms of failure, proactive maintenance differentiates itself by focusing on the factors contributing to equipment failure. More than any other maintenance approach, it strives to extend equipment lifespans and minimize repetitive repairs.

Data collection, tracking, and analysis are essential to successfully implementing a proactive maintenance plan, and a good computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) can provide the engine behind a successful deployment.

Proactive Maintenance vs. Reactive Maintenance

Fundamentally, proactive maintenance might be described as the opposite of reactive maintenance. Reactive maintenance operates on a “run-to-failure” philosophy that minimizes maintenance time and investment. Proactive maintenance, on the other hand, takes steps to anticipate and resolve problems before they occur. Using a reactive strategy, potential root causes of failure, such as inadequate lubrication, improper cooling, or design flaws, are not considered because the inoperable equipment is replaced or repaired without further diagnosis or analysis. While the reactive method may seem wasteful by comparison, it can sometimes be the most cost effective maintenance solution for low-value assets that can be easily replaced.


Identifying root causes of failure and taking proactive actions to minimize or eliminate these factors entails more commitment and resources but can bring a significant ROI for high-value equipment. For this reason, many organizations combine maintenance methods strategically to place the highest priority on critical assets.

Proactive Maintenance vs. Preventive Maintenance

Proactive maintenance is closely related to preventive maintenance and incorporates many of the same attributes and benefits. Preventive maintenance programs are established using time or usage-based intervals for inspection, part replacement, and other pre-planned activities. This is considered a proactive approach as well because the designated activities are intended to avoid random, unplanned breakdowns that might otherwise occur.

Proactive maintenance flips the equation by shifting the focus from the symptoms of failure to the root cause. For example, a preventive maintenance strategy might call for inspecting a bearing every six months and replacing it when it is degraded beyond specified limits. Proactive maintenance would, however, include tracking known causes of part failure, such as inadequate lubrication, heat, or contamination and then triggering maintenance activities based on these factors.

The proactive philosophy also incorporates design improvements that minimize the impact of these contributing factors on the component or equipment lifespan.

Proactive Maintenance Advantages

Proactive maintenance creates many of the same benefits as preventive and predictive maintenance approaches, including decreased malfunctions and downtime, minimized repair costs and increased equipment longevity. These advantages all contribute directly to bottom-line performance.


Automated monitoring practices associated with proactive maintenance can further reduce the load on technical personnel by minimizing troubleshooting and inspection time allotments.


Proactive maintenance provides additional benefits as a result of the data-centric, root-cause emphasis. By analyzing and positively identifying the causes of failure, proactive maintenance precipitates a continuous improvement cycle. Equipment design, installation, and maintenance processes can all be elevated over time to optimize equipment life and performance further.


Preventing the same problem from occurring is essential for maintaining equipment reliability throughout its useful life. Rather than merely triggering corrective actions, proactive maintenance software can be used to predict potentially related problems and identify meaningful improvement opportunities that prevent a recurrence. This farsighted use of system intelligence leads to ongoing enhancement and maintenance optimization.

Proactive Maintenance Disadvantages

Proactive maintenance requires a fundamental change in maintenance philosophy that continues to produce tangible benefits and savings as it evolves. What is sometimes perceived as the drawbacks or disadvantages of proactive maintenance are the initial investments in technology, equipment and training.


Because developing a maintenance strategy from the root-cause perspective is contrary to many existing programs, the conversion to proactive maintenance can be a long and arduous undertaking. For these reasons, a robust long term organizational commitment and a shift in philosophy from cost effective maintenance to profit-centric maintenance is a vital ingredient.


Setting up a Proactive Maintenance Plan

Given the complexity of proactive maintenance implementation, careful planning and organization are needed to ensure a successful transition. The planning process should begin with establishing program goals, leadership, budgets, and training strategies.


Planning the scope of proactive maintenance implementation will make it easier to determine what new tools and equipment will be required and what additional utilities or resources will be needed to support them. This aspect of planning might be limited by the level of root cause awareness that exists before implementation.


The next steps in establishing the revised maintenance plan include a selection of the proactive maintenance software package and the baselining of existing conditions. Equipment life span history, failure reporting, spare part usage and established preventive maintenance cadences will play an essential role in baselining the current state. Having the appropriate software tools available will facilitate this transition as the computing horsepower begins to connect the dots between root causes and effective strategies and solutions.


The next phase of baselining will include real-time measurement and monitoring of input factors to identify existing problems, establish nominal operating levels and prepare for deployment. The baselining process is also vital for quantifying improvements over time.

Moving from planning into implementation requires meticulous coordination to ensure equipment uptime is maintained even as new data collection practices identify root cause reduction strategies. As this transition evolves, it is essential to prioritize the time, money and energy spent on proactive solutions that can demonstrate program effectiveness and accelerate buy-in. Proactive maintenance software will gradually facilitate a favorable tradeoff between labor-intensive reactive tasks and targeted cost effective maintenance, proactive tasks.

Proactive Maintenance Solutions

The breadth of tools required for proactive maintenance support is dependent upon the level of implementation and the potential sources of failure being considered. Screening tools like thermal imaging equipment can be useful for investigating and quantifying heat-related conditions.


Other tests and measurement tools can evaluate humidity, vibration, electrostatic discharge or any number of different factors that are influential to equipment performance and reliability. A comprehensive, proactive maintenance solution might also include wireless sensors and other advanced monitoring devices to connect these input factors to equipment performance.


An essential tool for any successful maintenance program is proactive maintenance software that facilitates data capture, analysis and management. MicroMain’s CMMS software is an innovative and cost-effective means to incorporate intelligent analytics into maintenance practices and drive proactive, data-centric solutions. Intuitive and user-friendly dashboards and features make advanced maintenance processes logical and accessible. CMMS asset management and reporting functions are also ideally suited to proactive maintenance activities, converting information on equipment lifespan, performance and repair into tangible, actionable metrics.


How to Get Started

Our award winning maintenance management software can help you implement an effective proactive maintenance plan for your company or organization. Learn more about all the powerful features available with our industy leading CMMS software!