Asset Intelligence and Management

Asset Intelligence and Management

EZO CMMS Blogs What Is Unplanned Maintenance

What is Unplanned Maintenance? Types and Examples

Unplanned Maintenance

Facilities require reliable servers, networks, and air conditioning units to perform non-stop maintenance tasks and repairs, ensuring the upkeep of equipment. Implementing a maintenance system is essential for saving both time and money and improving service quality. 

As per a report by the Ponemon Institute, large-scale businesses lose $9,000 for every minute of downtime whereas small businesses lose $137-$427 per minute. Without a properly planned maintenance strategy in place, facilities are bound to face disruptions and high downtime costs. 

In the realm of maintenance, “unplanned” means an unexpected and unintentional issue, often known as an unannounced, abrupt, and spontaneous event.  This type of event usually occurs without any forewarning or the possibility of mitigation. 

When no maintenance plan is in place, this can prevent unplanned maintenance. Moreover, the provision of spare parts is rarely considered, except by chance. 

In this article, we will explore unplanned maintenance, its types, and examples, and understand how different it is from planned maintenance. 

What is unplanned maintenance? 

Often referred to as reactive or emergency maintenance, unplanned maintenance occurs unexpectedly when equipment experiences a breakdown. This type of maintenance does not have a predefined maintenance strategy and often requires the maintenance team to figure out the issue on the spot. 

Consider this example: A piece of equipment that depends on a motor to operate properly experiences an unexpected breakdown due to motor failure, causing a disruption in production. 

Since the motor had been working properly and deemed reliable, there was no maintenance plan in place when it failed to perform. This is an example of reactive maintenance as action was taken after equipment faced an unexpected breakdown. 

This is also what unplanned maintenance is – the term is used interchangeably with reactive maintenance. 

 The main purpose of this type of maintenance is to quickly identify and rectify any equipment malfunctions. It can be expensive due to overtime costs, call-out services, and the need to purchase spare parts if required. 

unplanned maintenance statistic

What is the difference between unplanned and planned maintenance?

Maintenance is of different types that can be categorized into two main categories: planned and unplanned maintenance. However, it is important to differentiate between planned and unplanned maintenance.  

An example of planned maintenance in the case of machinery would involve the inspection of wear and tear on belts, chains, and other moving parts. Scheduling consistent annual planned maintenance checks can greatly reduce the chances of unexpected malfunctions.

However, even with planned maintenance in place, certain factors can still cause equipment to experience a breakdown. This could be due to outdated technology or equipment with a history of failures. This is where unplanned maintenance steps in. 

Contrary to planned maintenance, unplanned maintenance does not occur regularly based on a schedule. Planned maintenance is carried out as a preventive measure to ensure equipment runs smoothly and consistently. 

What is the difference between unplanned and unscheduled maintenance?

While unplanned and unscheduled maintenance may seem similar and are sometimes used interchangeably, they have a few key differences. 

Unplanned maintenance refers to maintenance tasks that are unexpected, with no predetermined plan in place to complete them. On the other hand, unscheduled maintenance pertains to maintenance tasks that are planned but not scheduled for a specific time and not assigned to a technician.  

Let’s consider this example of unscheduled maintenance. Imagine you have a conveyor belt that needs maintenance every 50 hours it runs. You have a plan for this because you know what maintenance work needs to be done, how much it will cost, and what parts you’ll need to get the job done. 

However, you don’t know exactly when those 50 hours will be utilized. It may take one or three weeks. That’s why we say this maintenance is not scheduled, because you can’t predict the exact day or time it will require maintenance.

types of unplanned maintenance

Types of unplanned maintenance

Unplanned maintenance consists of three main types and they are as follows: 

Reactive maintenance

Reactive maintenance is a type of unplanned maintenance that is performed to fix equipment only after it experiences an unexpected breakdown. Repairs are performed as a reaction to the equipment failure and are not pre-planned. Reactive maintenance is also referred to as breakdown maintenance. 

An example of reactive maintenance could involve cartons becoming jammed on a conveyor, resulting in damage to the sensor and guide rail. This stops conveyor operations, requiring costly manual workarounds to keep the production line running. 

On the other hand, the guide rail would require welding and straightening and a new sensor would have to be purchased. 

Also Read: What is Reactive Maintenance? Types, Examples, Benefits, and Drawbacks

Corrective maintenance

Corrective maintenance aims to bring the equipment back to its proper working condition after it experiences a breakdown. From addressing minor defects that are causing equipment to perform slowly to repairing a machine that has completely stopped working, corrective maintenance encompasses everything. This type of maintenance solves unexpected issues that were not a part of the planned maintenance schedule. 

In our conveyor example, corrective maintenance would be required if a roller appears to be jamming. The cartons are coming down the conveyor, but they stop once they reach the tight roller. 

A second carton would be needed to push the first one forward to resume its journey on the conveyor and the third one would be required to push the second one. This issue will only be resolved if the roller is removed and its bearings are changed or replaced with a new one.  

Opportunistic maintenance

Opportunistic maintenance is performed when a defect is found unexpectedly while other work is being carried out. It takes advantage of an unforeseen halt in production to perform preventive maintenance tasks on equipment. Since the halt was not planned or scheduled, this type of maintenance is considered unplanned. 

An example of opportunistic maintenance would be performing preventive maintenance on a machine and noticing that another part of the machine is deteriorating. This can help you take immediate action to solve the issue, preventing the part from potential failure. 

Enhancing Unplanned Maintenance with CMMS 

Facilities can improve unplanned maintenance activities with the help of a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS). They can utilize CMMS for unplanned maintenance to record data for audits, generate work orders, manage resources, and track repairs. 

With a robust and effective CMMS, facilities can also maintain historical records for analysis, update maintenance plans based on failure trends, and manage inventory for supplies whenever needed. 

The maintenance system ensures adherence to quality standards and identifies responsible technicians for later follow-up if required.  

All in all, a CMMS helps facilities enhance the management and response to unplanned maintenance events, leading to improved performance and reduced downtime.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

What is an example of unplanned corrective maintenance?

Facilities perform unplanned corrective maintenance when they have not set any preventive maintenance plan in place. An example would be having a forklift or trolley that is not inspected, but unexpectedly breaks down one day. Repairing that item is unplanned corrective maintenance. 

What are the effects of unplanned maintenance?

The effects of unplanned maintenance include increased costs due to maintenance activities such as equipment replacement or repair. This also includes expenses for costly labor (including overtime and call-outs), lost production, and potential damage to equipment. These cumulative costs can greatly impact a facility’s operational budget and overall efficiency. 

What is the difference between planned and unplanned maintenance?

Planned maintenance includes all planned and scheduled maintenance activities whereas unplanned maintenance includes reactive, emergency, and break/fix activities that arise unexpectedly, demanding immediate action.


EZO CMMS is robust maintenance management software that helps you manage assets, schedule maintenance, and track work orders – all in one place. Streamline operational workflows and enhance productivity using this computerized maintenance management software. 

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