9 Types of maintenance: How to choose the right maintenance strategy

Finding the right type of maintenance regularly for your networking equipment can be challenging. In the tech ecosystem, there are clearly defined strategies for hardware maintenance but no truly agreed-on strategy that perfectly suits various businesses.

This to some extent is logical because different factors can influence the type of maintenance you want to adopt for your business. Factors like cost, staff size, location of the business, and client size can all influence the maintenance strategy a business adopts.

Be that as it may, being able to choose the right maintenance strategy for your business is paramount to your success. It not only eases off a lot of stress from you, but it also typically reduces functional failures in your business.

Types of Maintenance

Generally speaking, there 9 types of maintenance. They can further be summed up into two major classes of maintenance namely, preventive and corrective maintenance

Preventive maintenance focuses on getting the job done before damage occurs. It can involve not letting a piece of equipment get bad at all or reducing the impact of the failure on the network equipment.

Corrective maintenance also called reactive maintenance happens when the equipment has failed. It involves the process of setting an already failed asset up to work seamlessly as it used to in the past. Sometimes, corrective maintenance can just be a strategy designed deliberately by operational managers to allow an asset to function on its own till it breaks down and requires a repair and/or replacement.

Preventive maintenance 

  • Condition-based preventive maintenance
  • Time-based preventive maintenance
  • Failure-finding preventive maintenance
  • Risk-based preventive maintenance.
  • Predictive maintenance.

Corrective maintenance 

  • Emergency maintenance
  • Deferred corrective maintenance.


As stated earlier, preventive maintenance programs are carried out on a piece of equipment that is still working well to reduce its chances of breaking down. Preventive maintenance can be appreciated under certain subtopics which include

1. Condition-based preventive maintenance (CBM)

This sort of preventive maintenance involves the use of certain indicators to monitor the condition of the network equipment and henceforth determine when maintenance services ought to be carried out. Certain indicators like heat or vibration can point to the need to carry out preventive maintenance.

In most cases, outright failure of networking equipment is not always age-related. Instead, equipment failure occurs with signs that are easy to detect. Help in the form of condition-based maintenance can then come in at this point to reposition the equipment to its optimal function.

Of note is that CBM does not reduce the probability of failure. Rather it strives to monitor the condition of the equipment and recommend areas to maintain before a total failure occurs. This impacts positively on the cost of maintenance as well as helping to get the equipment to its normal operating conditions.

2. Time-based preventive maintenance (TBM)

Here maintenance schedules are set on network equipment at a specific interval. This can be monthly, bimonthly, or even weekly. The primary goal of this maintenance pattern is to reduce the chances of equipment failure and subsequently prevent downtime in a network center.

TBM can also be based on how the equipment is used. For example, a maintenance vendor can decide to schedule routine maintenance for a piece of network equipment after every 100 hours of active usage.

3. Failure-finding preventive maintenance (FFM)

Failure-finding maintenance involves a series of tasks carried out to detect a failure in a network asset before it happens. This type of preventive maintenance helps to reduce failure in protective systems as well as regular networking equipment.

Maintenance departments have a unique formula that guides them in determining how often protective systems should be checked for failure. This is called the failure finding interval. It determines the probability that a system would fail at a given time considering certain factors. It then sets a time frame where maintenance activities can be carried out to save the additional costs of unplanned maintenance.

Worthy of note is that this type of maintenance does not prevent failure, rather it helps detect it. When the failure is detected, the responsibility then lies on you to seek appropriate help to service the system and forestall its abrupt stoppage.

4. Risk-based preventive maintenance (RBM)

This approach to maintenance focuses on hardware that impacts the data center more if they were to fail. It is not a common subset of maintenance, but it offers immense cost savings advantage and can help prolong the life cycle of network equipment.

RBM works by detecting critical assets whose optimal function offers immense benefits to the business. It then channels available resources to service it and put it to good use, to minimize the risk of total equipment downtime.

Consequently, scarce business resources are used to maintain these essential assets more frequently, while low-risk equipment is maintained at a lower frequency. This form of maintenance when implemented thoroughly reduces the risk of failure to the barest minimum while also utilizing only a small amount of the maintenance budget.

5. Predictive maintenance (PDM)

Predictive maintenance involves the use of specialized tools to monitor the performance of an equipment, identify any faults and subsequently fix them before they outrightly fail. The difference between this form of maintenance and condition-based maintenance (CBM) revolves around timing and measurement.

For a while, predictive maintenance has been classified as a subset of condition-based maintenance. However, a clearer difference has been established with the introduction of newer technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning. PDM thus seems like an advancement to CBM, whose goal is to explore several parameters to determine when a failure is going to occur and henceforth schedule the best time that maintenance should be carried out.

With AI and machine learning, very many companies are currently moving into this form of maintenance. The basis for this is not far-fetched as the precision and reliability offered here are good for business operations.


Corrective maintenance involves a series of activities employed to resolve a problem that has already occurred with the use of hardware. Here, the function of an item is only restored after it has failed. The reason for adopting this method of maintenance can be that preventive maintenance is not economically feasible for the business or even because the system’s failure will not yield any impact on the business or the environment.

On another look, corrective maintenance can simply be the aftermath of improperly planned preventive maintenance. This strategy can be used in microscopic areas of a business where failure will not require an emergency.

When it comes to corrective maintenance, I’ve seen it used in two different ways in a business setting. The first way is when a problem has already occurred and the second is when preventive maintenance hasn’t been done properly.

In the first case, where a problem has already occurred, it can be very costly for a business if they don’t have a plan for corrective maintenance in place. For example, if there’s an equipment failure and the company has to go out and buy a new one, that could be very costly. Not only do you have the initial cost of the new equipment, but you also have the cost of downtime while you’re waiting for it to come and getting everything set up.

– Kristian Crowe, Founder of Above It All Roofing

There are two main types of corrective maintenance. They are

1. Emergency maintenance

Emergency maintenance is often referred to as breakdown maintenance. Here, maintenance services are only rendered when an asset has unexpectedly broken down in such a way that it could cause serious damage to the business and/or the environment.

This form of maintenance is usually more expensive when compared to preventive maintenance. The cost of equipment failure can be daunting. Not just that, it offers no peace of mind to business owners as a breakdown in the business process can trigger unpleasant reactions.

2. Deferred corrective maintenance

This is the type of corrective maintenance where services aimed at maintaining a product are postponed for a later date. There are a few reasons why maintenance services can be rescheduled. It may be due to the unavailability of replacement parts or may be due to other higher cases which require the attention of available technicians.

Most cases of deferred maintenance are due to the company having scarce resources to deploy for maintenance. Scarce resources here can either be manpower or cash. Whichever it is, a longer period of deferred maintenance is tantamount to a potential failure as well as an increase in the cost of maintenance.

FAQ about types of maintenance.

1. Which maintenance strategy is mostly exorbitant?

Unarguably the most expensive type of maintenance is emergency maintenance. This is so because in emergency maintenance important systems are shut down which can cause some sort of panic and confusion for a maintenance team in a business environment.

Decisions taken henceforth may not go through serious scrutiny. Solutions that may follow could be inefficient just as maintenance costs are higher, especially when compared with the well thought and planned preventive maintenance.

2. What is breakdown maintenance?

This typically refers to corrective maintenance. Just like with corrective maintenance, the system has already broken down and needs to be repaired. It can either be an emergency or not, depending on the situations that led to the failure of the system. In most instances, however, it can be an emergency often requiring immediate interventions. All necessary precautions and interventions accorded to emergency maintenance should be replicated at this point.

3. Is preventive maintenance by any chance under the same umbrella as predictive maintenance?

People sometimes get confused when trying to distinguish between preventive and predictive maintenance. However, the difference is clear. Preventive maintenance is an umbrella term for various types of maintenance that aim at assisting before a gadget fails. Predictive maintenance on the other hand is a type of preventive maintenance.

On another note, preventive maintenance tasks are time-based. They are carried out at a stipulated period whether or not the equipment is bad. The maintenance interval can be weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, etc.

Predictive maintenance on its own is not time-based. It utilizes advancements in technology such as artificial intelligence and machine learning to detect faults in a gadget and schedule a time for a maintenance team to fix it before it gets even worse.

4. Can you use planned maintenance and preventive maintenance interchangeably?

No, they are quite distinct. Planned maintenance involves a thorough preparation of the maintenance process from timing, budgeting, etc. This is routine maintenance that goes through irrespective of whether the system is faulty or not.

With preventive maintenance, the faults of the system have been identified and efforts are put in place to make sure it does not fail. Most preventive maintenance is however planned because after identification of the faults, technicians will surely devise means of repairing it and this process requires planning.

5. What is autonomous maintenance?

This is one of the proactive maintenance strategies where individuals use specific systems to monitor the performance themselves. They go ahead to make minor adjustments and other small maintenance duties on the system. This is in place of assigning every aspect of maintenance (from minor to major) to technicians and engineers.

Autonomous maintenance also referred to as frontline maintenance involves certain activities such as cleaning, lubricating, inspecting, and even repair of technological equipment. A staff assigned to use the equipment often takes up this role of its regular maintenance, allowing the TPM vendor to focus on more compound work.

6. What edge does preventive maintenance have over breakdown maintenance?

Prevention is better than cure is a common proverb used to infer that it is better to prevent something from happening than to wait for the damage to occur before repairing it. This applies in maintenance as preventive maintenance on critical assets is always better than breakdown maintenance.

Firstly, preventing a system from failing is cheaper than repairing it after it has failed. Moreover, preventive maintenance can be carried out regularly while the system and business are still running. In breakdown maintenance, your business is often at downtime which can have a detrimental effect.

Meanwhile, there are some cases where breakdown maintenance can be one of the effective strategies adopted. Certain areas of a business that are not quite significant such as lighting can be allowed to break down before maintenance is carried out. This is because even with an advanced approach it is difficult to ascertain when bulbs will go bad and even when they do, there is no immediate threat to the business.

7. Is there an option to choose either preventive or predictive maintenance?

Predictive maintenance is a type of preventive maintenance. Both employ similar ways of ensuring that a network system does not fail before they are serviced. Therefore, none is entirely better than the other. The issue at stake will be each maintenance manager adopting the particular one that will be more convenient for them.

Depending on how frequently your system fails, either of these strategies can be useful. For example, if your system fails more frequently, then a predictive maintenance approach will be useful. This is because you’re able to determine when the failure will occur and take action to prevent it.

If your system is more stable or it is not economically feasible for you to use predictive maintenance, then preventive maintenance will come in handy. It is time-based maintenance and can offer much-needed flexibility.


Fill out the form and we’ll schedule a meeting with a NorthSmart expert or call us now


Fill out the form and we'll schedule a meeting with a NorthSmart expert.