Deferred Maintenance

Table of Contents

Deferred maintenance is a normal occurrence in any maintenance program. And, every facility encounters deferred maintenance for different reasons. Here, we discuss deferred maintenance, the reasons it occurs, and its consequences in a facility. 

What is Deferred Maintenance?

Deferred maintenance refers to any maintenance work, scheduled or unscheduled, that is withheld and postponed. Any deferred maintenance work is added to a backlog or list of unaccomplished maintenance tasks. Proper maintenance management is needed to deal with deferred maintenance to prevent potential safety hazards or machine failure.

What are the Reasons for Deferred Maintenance?

The maintenance department can defer maintenance tasks for several reasons. These possible reasons include:

High Cost

A maintenance system with a limited budget often cites high costs as the reason for deferring maintenance tasks. Most facilities would prioritize maintenance work that is urgent, leaving minimal budget for less critical tasks. But, these facilities rarely realize that deferred maintenance today can become critical and costly maintenance tomorrow.

Unavailable Resources

Maintenance can also be deferred if the needed materials, tools, or technicians are unavailable. Proper planning should ensure that all of these resources are available before you schedule any maintenance task. Also, the maintenance department should keep a stock of tools and materials for unplanned or emergency maintenance purposes.

Operational Necessity

Maintenance of machines or assets can also be deferred if they are needed in operations. Often, you may have to pull machines scheduled for maintenance or repair out of maintenance to meet operational quotas or deadlines. Before deferring an asset’s maintenance, you must assess its condition. It should be capable of handling the necessary operations until you can reschedule its maintenance.

For Additional Information

Deferred maintenance can also happen if further evaluation or testing is needed to carry out the maintenance work. It is possible that a technician needs to consult with the manufacturer or other experts before they can continue with the maintenance. There are also instances when the initial maintenance was performed, but the succeeding steps are deferred to check if the initial steps were successful. 

Others Reasons

Other common reasons for deferred maintenance include:

  • Inaccessible machine or machine parts
  • Low priority assets
  • Scheduling errors

You can easily address these reasons for deferring maintenance with proper planning and scheduling of maintenance work.

Consequences of Deferred Maintenance 

Deferred maintenance is a natural occurrence in a maintenance system. But, frequently postponing maintenance can lead to negative consequences such as:

Increased Maintenance Costs

Deferred maintenance results in deferred costs. When you postpone maintenance, the severity of the maintenance issue increases over time, causing higher costs needed to resolve it. Deferred costs also come from the increased cost of materials, labor, and other resources due to inflation.

Reduced Asset Efficiency

Deferred maintenance can reduce asset efficiency. Even when a maintenance task is a low priority, it can make a big difference in the productivity and efficiency of a machine or equipment. Too much deferred maintenance on a machine causes it to use more energy or running time to accomplish its tasks or meet its quota.

Irreparable Damage

Minor maintenance issues that you defer can lead to major irreparable damages. Regular and frequent maintenance can repair and prevent damage at the early stages before total system failure happens. 

Increase Deferred Maintenance 

Deferred maintenance can snowball and increase into an unmanageable backlog of deferred maintenance tasks. If you keep deferring maintenance work, you will have difficulty squeezing all your postponed tasks next time, leading to more backlog, and so on.

Health and Safety Risks

Too much deferred maintenance on critical assets can cause health and safety risks for technicians and other employees within your facility. Worker safety regulatory fines can also increase if the risks are not managed through proper maintenance.

Managing Deferred Maintenance

The high number of deferred maintenance tasks can be a result of many maintenance issues. You can start dealing with these issues by assessing and auditing current maintenance procedures and practices. Only then can you pinpoint the root causes of these issues and improve on them.

Tracking and recording your maintenance procedures will also help manage deferred maintenance. This way, you’ll have a clearer view of all the maintenance tasks you do daily, weekly, or monthly. You can then plan these tasks in a complete and efficient manner.

Also, you can minimize your maintenance tasks and prevent deferring them by focusing your efforts on preventive maintenance (PM). Most urgent or unplanned maintenance can be detected early with effective PM. Shifting your strategy to PM will require time and effort, but its valuable benefits are worth it.

Managing Deferred Maintenance with CMMS

A computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) like Redlist can help you plan, execute, monitor, and record all your maintenance tasks. It can help you deal with backlog and keep deferred maintenance at manageable levels. CMMS also helps prioritize tasks more effectively, so you don’t defer critical tasks. To find out how Redlist can do these for you, request a free demo here.

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