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All about Breakdown Maintenance (types, examples & benefits)

All about Breakdown Maintenance (types, examples & benefits)

Let us understand what is it?

Breakdown maintenance is the process of performing maintenance on an equipment that broke down, is faulted or for any reason not working/operating. The goal of this process is to fix the problem that is leading to the malfunction of the equipment. On the other hand Preventive Maintenance is done to keep the things in order/running.  

When a machine breaks down suddenly but there is a need for that to be working again soon, we need to operate it as soon as possible. This is an unplanned event. On the other hand we can plan Breakdown Maintenance sometimes which we even call as “good” breakdown-maintenance.  

Let us now understand about the two types of Breakdown Maintenance:

Planned Maintenance:

By Planned Maintenance we understand that the breakdown is expected to happen, it is not all sudden. The equipment works until it is on the verge of breakdown which then leads to the initiation of run to failure (RTF) trigger. RTF triggers are unplanned, breakdown maintenance use RTF as a way to lower the cost of the maintenance, which eventually helps the organization.

These kinds of serious plans of breakdown maintenance are supposed to be rigorously documented and controlled. It is important to know which part of the machinery is damaged and what needs to be taken care of under Preventive Maintenance. Without this clear data it would be difficult to know which part is damaged.  

Unplanned Maintenance:

Unplanned breakdown maintenance occurs suddenly with no prior information regarding the breakdown. It is also known as Unplanned downtime event. It is possible for not all the facilities are using planned maintenance as they require resources for planned maintenance. And even in the case of unplanned maintenance resources should be there to take care of the sudden breakdown that happened in the organization. As it is normal for any equipment to break down at some point in life.  

5 examples of breakdown maintenance:

It is a very different application which is used in different ways in different industries with different sets of products, especially the one which involve health and safety. This brings us to the conclusion that it is used when the parts are non-essential or not that costly.  

Let us now know about a few examples in which we can apply Breakdown Maintenance:

  • One is not able to repair the equipment at all
  • Assets contains of something which consists of inexpensive parts
  • There are non-critical pieces in equipment
  • Equipment are meant for disposal as they are made to be replaced at the end of their life cycle.
  • Some assets are short termed.

From these examples it is very clear that there is no inherent safety risk when a piece/part of an equipment is broken. Let us understand it with the help of an example, let us consider a light bulb in some facility. If the light bulb is not connected to the safety feature present in the organization then it makes no sense to replace it before the bulb has burned out as it is working all fine.  

However, there are times when people life can be on stake because of a product breakdown. Let us understand it with the help of an example, in aviation industry they can not have a broken part in their equipment as it is way too dangerous. As there is a direct threat to the safety of people. When a person’s life comes in it is good to rely on preventive and predictive maintenance.  

Pros and Cons

Let us now learn about the Pros and Cons


Failure in equipment can lead to dangerous consequences, but if we have a clear/ documented maintenance plan it can lead to many significant benefits for an organization.

  • Maintenance cost is reduced by cutting out unnecessary maintenance.
  • We can lower the cost of equipment that we replace again and again (for example bulbs, hand tools etc.)
  • Downtime for all the repairs that we are conducting can be consolidated
  • The staff need is also reduced as manual labor is reduced
  • It is easy to see that the equipment require maintenance.  


The downside of breakdown maintenance is also important to look at when we are dealing with the nature of maintenance plan. For example, breakdown maintenance should not be used with safety equipment as a single downtime of this asset would lead to a major lapse in the whole organization, it is also dangerous for the lives present in the facility as there is some breakdown in any safety equipment.

  • Piled up waste in a manufacturing facility
  • Occurrence of safety issues because of unplanned failures
  • Greater cost depending on parts that fail
  • Careful execution of breakdown maintenance  
  • It can be difficult to realize what is wrong in the equipment

Breakdown v/s corrective maintenance

It is obvious to wonder what the difference is between breakdown and corrective maintenance. They both work with equipment that is faulty, which is not working properly or is broken. But these two terms are not at all same.  

Above we learned about breakdown maintenance, it is performed on the equipment that is broken or is not working properly, maybe it stopped working in the manner it was supposed to work. Corrective maintenance whereas is focused on repairing the broken equipment, it is more of the correction work.

They might look similar to one other but if we dive deep in we come to know about the major difference which then clears up the whole confusion.

Now let us understand how these two types of maintenance differs:

One of the major differences is that breakdown maintenance works on equipment that are non-operational. Corrective maintenance is done on equipment that are still working but will not function to its maximum in a while. And hence it becomes very important to maintain them.

Corrective maintenance may be different in respect of different machine/equipment. Breakdown maintenance may happen in an extremely short period of time, particularly if the system in question is essential.  

Both types of maintenance typically happen to equipment that are still in place/in work which can be edited. Also, both types of maintenance may be classified as emergency maintenance, depending on the situation.  


Breakdown maintenance is not for every industry. Industries that have a direct relation with the lives of people should never use breakdown maintenance. It is okay if we are using breakdown maintenance for cheap assets/asset parts.  

One thing to always remember about maintenance is that it requires planning and coordination. Any organization should not allow the maintenance to be exploited, there should be proper usage of it always.