Planning for Every Eventuality: Instituting a Multi-Faceted Maintenance Program

The success and stability of your cash flow and supply chain rely on the availability and up-time of your equipment. This 2017 study estimated that while failure costs for a manufacturing organization should be zero, they are typically closer to between 70% and 85% of an organization’s total quality costs. The lack of a strategic maintenance plan is expensive, and could be bleeding your bottom line.

An efficient and effective maintenance program doesn’t just address problems when they happen. Leaders need to plan for a range of issues before they occur, to protect daily business operations. 

Maintenance, just like any facet of your project planning, requires a strategy. No matter what industry or service area you are in, your equipment and staff need to be engaged with a maintenance program that ensures safety, reliability, and a responsive team. 

What Are the Different Levels of Maintenance Plans?

Typically, maintenance programs fall into four different categories: reactive, preventive, predictive, and proactive. In most situations, it isn’t a question of which you implement, it’s who you engage with or how you plan a maintenance strategy that includes all of the categories.

Each program addresses a variety of issues that impact your entire operation. Preventive maintenance, for example, provides greater assurance that you’re going to get the most value from older equipment. The goal of preventive maintenance is to keep your combustion system operating at peak performance (and preventing the need for a series of one-time/same day emergency repairs). 

Maintenance programs also verify that safety protocols are being followed, that your staff is fully trained, and that you are well-resourced in case you need a part replaced or repaired immediately. 

Defining Different Maintenance Strategies

On the surface, the maintenance categories all look interchangeable, but there are nuanced differences between reactive, preventive, proactive, and predictive maintenance.


Reactive maintenance is exactly what it sounds like. Equipment goes down or malfunctions and needs immediate repair. Most safety and equipment teams understand that being overly reliant on a singularly reactive maintenance strategy is costly and potentially dangerous. How you respond to those issues is a bigger part of your planned maintenance strategies. Put another way, when you plan for problems ahead of time, the less likely you are to have many stack up and shut down production.


Preventive maintenance includes a regular, scheduled program for each piece of equipment in your system. It’s usually scheduled at different intervals and can be labor intensive. (Think: Getting your car’s engine oil changed every 5,000 miles.) Equipment manufacturers usually include a recommended preventive maintenance schedule. Preventive maintenance is almost always more cost-effective than reactive maintenance because it can prolong the life of parts and equipment. While preventive maintenance manages and reduces risk, data and measurement today can lead to even more cost-effective programs.


Preventive and predictive maintenance sound interchangeable, but there is a nuanced difference. Preventive maintenance is executed at specified intervals, while predictive maintenance uses data and performance metrics from the equipment itself. By looking for algorithmic trends, your team and partners will get a better idea of what failures could be lurking, and what parts and issues can actually be left alone. Indicators like temperature, pressure, vibration, and other data points indicate issues that should be addressed immediately.

Scheduled (or preventive) maintenance relies on a series of assumptions about equipment. Predictive maintenance could be more cost effective, without scheduled down-time and repair work that may in fact not be necessary.


A proactive strategy combines predictive and preventive approaches by leveraging baseline performance numbers, monitoring equipment over time, and establishing a strategy to maintain equipment only when it’s needed. 

A proactive maintenance strategy goes beyond an established schedule. It addresses the common root issues of failure, to give you a holistic and comprehensive plan that addresses issues before they happen. Most organizations face big challenges when deciding how to allocate resources toward a maintenance program. Comparing and analyzing data from both new and aging equipment highlights likely failures. 

A proactive analysis and scheduled inspections put you in control of your maintenance in an intelligent way that also decreases cost over time. Working with a qualified safety expert further ensures that your equipment is satisfying safety requirements for your insurance carriers and approvals from various safety agencies.

Finding the Right Partner

Reliability and redundancy for equipment safety and maintenance is typically best outsourced to an experienced third party.

Why? Because internal operators are understandably consumed with the business itself. The right partner is incentivized to focus on the core components of your safety, and is aware of the current regulatory changes, as well as warning signs that could prevent expensive accidents.

Always make sure you’re working with a partner that offers:

  • Automated and customized solutions for combustion equipment
  • Robust customer support that’s always a phone call away
  • Programs that include regular diagnostics, inspections, and calibrations
  • Well-stocked inventory to keep delays at a minimum
  • Trained technicians who have existing expertise with your equipment

A high-quality partner already has their vehicles stocked with the parts needed for any job, as well as the expertise to provide whatever level of service you need, whenever you need. They can also work hand in hand with you and consult about an appropriate maintenance and safety program. Safety and maintenance programs safeguard against costly failures, keeping equipment reliable. What’s more, the less down-time and costly repairs you undertake, the more your business remains steady and profitable and, most importantly, your staff and equipment remain safe. 

Make sure to work with a vendor that can support the complete combustion system lifecycle, including sizing, design, and on-site installation and training. For example, BDC always has over $1M worth of stock to manage both proactive maintenance strategies and any reactive/emergency situations that are inevitable.

Of course, we’re always on hand no matter what arises, ensuring that your combustion solutions are appropriate for your needs and your processes. Reach out to us today to let us know how we can help. 

Have some questions? We've got answers.
Ask an expert