Is “Run-To-Failure” A Cost-Effective Maintenance Approach?

Maintenance Best PracticesWhat is “Run to Failure” (RTF) maintenance?

“Run to Failure” (RTF) maintenance, also known as reactive maintenance, is a strategy where equipment is operated until it fails before any maintenance is performed. This approach stands in contrast to preventive maintenance, where maintenance is performed at regular intervals to prevent equipment failures.

Potential Benefits of Run-to-Failure Maintenance

  • Minimal planning is required, as assets do not need to be included in routine maintenance schedules.
  • Spare parts only need to be kept on hand for when a failure occurs.
  • Applicable for small, inexpensive items like light bulbs or filters.
  • Suitable for stand-alone equipment where a breakdown won’t significantly impact operations.

Benefits of Proactive Maintenance over Run-to-Failure

Reduced Maintenance Costs: Performing preventive maintenance at regular intervals is often more cost-effective than waiting for equipment to fail and then replacing or repairing it. Unplanned breakdowns tend to be more expensive.

Improved Productivity: Proactive maintenance helps minimize equipment downtime, keeping your operations running smoothly and efficiently. Unplanned failures can significantly disrupt productivity.

Increased Predictability: Scheduling maintenance based on usage or time allows you to anticipate when equipment may need servicing, reducing the unpredictability of failures. This makes it easier to plan maintenance around production schedules.

Optimized Inventory Management: Preventive maintenance allows you to stock spare parts based on projected needs, rather than keeping a large inventory to handle unpredictable failures. This saves on storage costs.

Enhanced Safety: Regularly inspecting equipment and addressing issues proactively helps maintain a safe work environment and reduces the risk of injuries from equipment malfunctions.

Advantages of a CMMS for Maintenance Planning

Embracing a Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) is embarking on a journey toward proactive and financially savvy maintenance practices. With a CMMS at their disposal, maintenance teams find themselves equipped with a centralized hub that adeptly oversees every aspect of maintenance operations. From creating work orders to managing inventory, tracking assets, and crafting comprehensive reports, a CMMS becomes the cornerstone of streamlined and efficient maintenance management. Below are some additional highlights:

Identifying Failure Patterns and Predicting Future Issues: With a CMMS in place, maintenance teams can log equipment failures and maintenance activities, creating a rich pool of data for analysis. By spotting recurring problems and patterns, they can foresee potential future breakdowns and take preventive measures before they occur. This proactive approach not only minimizes unplanned downtime but also boosts equipment reliability.

Optimizing Maintenance Scheduling: Traditional fixed-interval maintenance schedules can be inefficient and costly. However, a CMMS equipped with predictive analytics allows maintenance tasks to be scheduled based on predicted failure dates. This means maintenance is carried out precisely when needed, optimizing resource allocation and prolonging equipment lifespan.

Tailoring Maintenance Strategies: Not all assets require the same maintenance approach. Utilizing Reliability Centered Maintenance (RCM) principles, a CMMS helps teams identify the most suitable maintenance strategy for each asset based on factors like criticality and cost. This could involve a mix of preventive maintenance, condition-based monitoring, and run-to-failure strategies, ensuring optimal maintenance effectiveness and cost efficiency.

Centralizing Maintenance Operations: No more scattered spreadsheets and disjointed communication channels. A CMMS acts as a centralized platform for all maintenance-related activities, from planning and scheduling to work order management and inventory control. This centralization streamlines processes enhances collaboration, and ensures tasks are completed in a timely manner.

Leveraging Data for Informed Decision Making: CMMS solutions offer powerful reporting and analytics features. Maintenance teams can monitor crucial key performance indicators (KPIs), craft tailored reports, and make timely, data-driven decisions. This access to actionable insights not only fuels continuous improvement but also guarantees alignment with organizational objectives.

Promoting Collaboration and Communication: By providing a single platform for maintenance activities, a CMMS fosters collaboration among team members, departments, and external stakeholders. This improved communication flow reduces errors, enhances coordination, and cultivates a culture of teamwork and efficiency.

Ensuring Regulatory Compliance: CMMS solutions often include features to track regulatory requirements and ensure compliance. By maintaining detailed records of maintenance activities, organizations can easily demonstrate adherence to regulations during audits and inspections, mitigating risks and avoiding penalties.

Facilitating Mobile Maintenance: Many modern CMMS platforms offer mobile applications, enabling technicians to access work orders, update maintenance activities, and check equipment status on the go. This mobility enhances responsiveness and efficiency, particularly for field technicians and teams operating in remote locations.

Maximizing Asset Performance: Leveraging a Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) stands as a pivotal tactic for optimizing asset performance and yielding maximum return on investment (ROI). Through seamless integration with essential systems, a CMMS empowers organizations to access a comprehensive, data-driven overview of asset health, utilization, and efficacy.

Driving Continuous Improvement: A CMMS serves as more than just a tool; it’s a catalyst for ongoing improvement. By continuously analyzing data, refining processes, and incorporating feedback, organizations can continually optimize their maintenance operations, driving better performance and cost-effectiveness over time.


While run-to-failure maintenance may be appropriate for certain low-cost, non-critical assets, it is generally not a cost-effective approach for most warehouse equipment. By implementing a CMMS like eWorkOrders, maintenance teams can take a more proactive and strategic approach to maintenance planning. This helps minimize equipment failures, reduce maintenance costs, and improve overall productivity and safety. eWorkOrders provides powerful tools for work order management, preventive maintenance scheduling, inventory control, and reporting to help maintenance teams optimize their operations.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is another word for run-to-failure?

Run-to-failure maintenance, also known as “breakdown maintenance”, is a maintenance strategy where an asset or piece of equipment is allowed to operate until it fails or breaks down before any maintenance or repairs are performed.

What are the disadvantages of run-to-failure?

The big problem with run-to-fail is its unpredictability. You never know when the asset might fail, and Murphy’s law says it will be at the most inopportune time. Asset spares also need to be kept continually in stock, just in case. Cost needs to be considered. 

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