The Differences Between Preventive and Repair Maintenance

Efficient maintenance is critical for businesses that depend on equipment or a workspace. This includes the metalworking and woodworking industries as well as air and marine transportation, industrial plant, and facility management industries.


Understanding the three types of maintenance can help you develop a strategy that cuts costly downtime. This article looks at the definitions, types, advantages and disadvantages of each type.

Preventive Maintenance

As its name suggests, preventive maintenance is a proactive approach to maintaining equipment and machinery that involves scheduled inspections and servicing. It minimizes downtime, maximizes lifespan and improves overall reliability and efficiency. It is a key component to compliance with safety regulations and ensures quality standards are met.

An effective preventive maintenance program requires a thorough understanding of each piece of equipment. This means analyzing work procedures, inspection histories and inventory information. It also requires gathering original equipment manufacturer (OEM) manuals and any other documentation relevant to the specific piece of equipment. It is important to develop a schedule for each piece of equipment to be inspected and serviced based on these parameters, as well as the type of work performed.

The goal of preventive maintenance is to catch problems before they become major issues and to reduce the need for costly repairs. When a problem is spotted, it can be fixed right away to avoid costly downtime. This can be accomplished by performing regular inspections, cleaning and lubrication of equipment. Other preventive maintenance tasks include examining operating reports and inspecting records to detect defects or failures.

To make the most of your preventive maintenance program, consider implementing a software solution that will help you track and monitor all of your equipment and assets. Tools such as SafetyCulture (formerly iAuditor) can help you create preventive maintenance checklists, assign inspections to team members, schedule work orders and even send reminders.

Predictive Maintenance

The goal of predictive maintenance is to keep machines running optimally for as long as possible by monitoring equipment health and identifying issues before they affect production. This strategy enables companies to reduce downtime and maintenance costs and improve product quality.

In this maintenance technique, sensors track machinery’s performance and detect potential problems that would not be detectable by human senses or manual analysis. This information is used to predict when a machine might fail and create a work order for repairs. This system can be expensive, and it requires a highly trained team to implement and manage it.

A major challenge of predictive maintenance is making sure that the data being collected from sensors is accurate and complete. Sensors need to be calibrated correctly and all the data from different hardware must be consolidated into something that can be used for modeling or generating alerts. Another challenge is interpreting the results of the predictive model and alerts to make informed decisions.

Predictive maintenance utilizes a wide variety of technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and the Internet of Things (IoT) to deliver insights into the condition of an asset or a fleet of assets. This information helps to drive better decision-making, improve maintenance workflows and operations, and minimize energy usage and inventory costs. It also enables businesses to transform their enterprise asset management (EAM) practices by moving away from time-based maintenance schedules and toward condition-based predictive maintenance.


The goal of both maintenance and repair is to keep equipment, tools, and infrastructure in good condition so that it performs well and lasts longer. However, there are some important differences between the two that can affect asset management and reporting for tax purposes.

The main difference between maintenance and repairs is that repairs are done after a failure occurs, while maintenance helps prevent problems from occurring in the first place. For example, you can prevent a fire by regularly inspecting and cleaning your facilities, or you can repair a damaged piece of machinery before it breaks down completely.

Maintenance tasks can be performed by anyone who knows how to use a piece of equipment or is trained in its specific operation, including cleaning, lubricating, and protecting assets. For more complex maintenance tasks, such as fixing mechanical issues or electrical components, a specialized team may be required.

When it comes to taxes, ordinary repairs are recorded as expenses in the accounting period in which they occur, leaving the book value of the fixed asset unchanged. However, capital improvements are an exception because they add to the value of the property. Whether or not a maintenance job is considered a capital improvement depends on whether it results in a material increase in the property’s capacity, productivity, strength, or quality.

Replacement Parts

When it comes to repair, there is an inherent level of risk. Not only does repairing something require the time and effort to determine what is wrong, but it also involves the possibility that the problem can be more severe than thought or that the fix will not work properly. That is why a proactive maintenance strategy is so important, if you are looking to reduce the number of issues that arise on your equipment.

This includes having a proper spare parts management system in place. The right software can help you track inventory, ensure that all necessary tools are available and provide automated low-quantity alerts to prevent costly equipment downtime from unplanned parts orders or expedited shipments.

It is also important to make sure that you are sourcing parts from reputable suppliers. Beware of generic or no-name brands that might be sold on the internet or at flea markets, which can potentially have lower quality standards and can lead to failures. In addition, it is helpful to use remanufactured parts, which are recycled parts that are rebuilt to better-than-new condition and can be up to 50 percent cheaper than original equipment manufacturer (OE) parts.

Lastly, be sure that you have well-defined standard operating procedures in place to ensure that your staff follows the best practices for repairs. This will help prevent errors and improve the overall speed of repairs.