In today’s increasingly competitive business climate, maintenance managers and business owners must explore different ways to maximize efficiency while minimizing operational costs. One maintenance strategy to do so is run-to-failure (RTF) maintenance, which involves running equipment until it fails before replacing or repairing it. In this post, we’ll examine the pros and cons of run-to-failure maintenance and break down when its usage can be beneficial for a business. With knowledgeable insight into what RTF maintenance entails, companies are sure to make informed decisions to keep their operations up and running with minimal disruption in productivity.
What is Run-to-Failure Maintenance?
As the name implies, run-to-failure maintenance is an approach to maintaining equipment that allows it to run until it fails. This is an alternative to proactively maintaining or replacing the system or part. This type of maintenance approach can have a big impact on the bottom line, depending on how you use it. It can provide savings in labor and materials costs, but also cause extended downtime and other costly issues if mismanaged. RTF maintenance has been used by organizations in many industries for decades as a cost-effective way to manage aging assets. The key to run-to-failure maintenance is that you have a plan in place to minimize the production impact of the failure when it happens. That includes having the right staff and spare parts on hand to quickly perform the maintenance necessary to get your equipment running again.
RTF Maintenance vs. Reactive Maintenance
Unlike reactive maintenance, RTF maintenance allows the asset to run until it fails, without intervention. Additionally, RTF maintenance is planned and reactive maintenance is unplanned and unexpected. Run-to-failure maintenance is an appropriate strategy for assets that pose no safety risks and have minimal impact on production.
Run-to-Failure Maintenance Benefits
RTF provides a few advantages, including being economical and extending the lifespan of your equipment and components. The planning requirements are very minimal for maintenance because you don’t have to plan much in advance. It is only necessary to do maintenance following a breakdown. Additionally, this approach is simple to comprehend and utilize.
The Drawbacks of RTF Maintenance
Run-to-failure maintenance has disadvantages because most maintenance plans aim to reduce downtime. It is challenging to predict when you’ll need labor and components for repairs because the majority of breakdowns are unpredictable. Additionally, it can be challenging to plan staffing due to the sporadic nature of failures. When applying this method, you must consider all the possible costs. In addition to direct part and labor expenses related to executing the maintenance, these costs also include manufacturing and breakdown costs. The maintenance crew must also keep extra parts on hand to account for sporadic failures.
What is Run-to-Failure Maintenance Good For?
Run-to-failure maintenance is suitable if the overall cost of restoring a piece of equipment after it breaks is less than the cost of performing other types of maintenance on it before. Understanding how a machine might break down and what would happen in that scenario is necessary for run-to-failure maintenance. For redundant or non-critical assets, run-to-failure maintenance would also be preferable.
Run-to-failure maintenance is inappropriate for situations where equipment failure poses a safety risk or equipment availability is vital to operations. Additionally, it is not ideal for assets when a more proactive maintenance strategy, such as preventive or predictive maintenance tactics, might result in a decrease in overall maintenance expenditures.
Run-to-Failure Maintenance Examples
The maintenance schedule for a general-purpose light bulb is a well-known illustration of run-to-failure maintenance. You use the light bulb until it burns out, and you simply keep a spare for that light bulb on hand. Then, the plan to fix the asset is put into action. At an opportune time, a fresh light bulb is brought from stock and installed.
Run-to-Failure Costs Equal to Preventive Maintenance Costs
Take a machine that you use in a continuous, around-the-clock production process as an example. Preventive maintenance would take the machine out of production, resulting in an additional regular cost of downtime. Alternatively, maybe that piece of equipment would only malfunction or fail once a year. If the cost of the failure is the same as preventive maintenance, choose the option that results in less downtime.
Non-Critical or Redundant Assets
In a mine with 50 trucks and 1 rock crusher, the trucks are redundant because there are so many of them. Run-to-failure maintenance might make sense for the trucks but definitely not for the crusher.
Another Step to Optimize Your Maintenance Strategy
You can use numerous maintenance techniques to accomplish run-to-failure maintenance with little tracking or management. A CMMS (computerized maintenance management system) can help you better track all of your assets and maintenance strategies. The insight this software provides can even assist in determining which assets qualify for run-to-failure maintenance while tracking the inventory necessary. If you’d like to see how a CMMS can support your maintenance team, book a demo with a member of our team.