How Are Repairs and Maintenance Different? An In-Depth Comparison

How Are Repairs and Maintenance Different? An In-Depth Comparison

Any industrial or manufacturing facility uses machinery and equipment to produce goods. Because these assets have fixed lifespans, the importance of repairs and maintenance cannot be overemphasised.

Repairs and maintenance as a part of proactive maintenance are crucial in preventing downtime and costly repairs. However, these terms are often used interchangeably, which can lead to confusion and ineffective practices.

This is why this article explores what each of these terms means and uncovers the differences between maintenance and repairs as well as the different types of each concept.

Let’s take a closer look.

How Are Repairs and Maintenance Different? An In-Depth Comparison

What Is the Difference Between Repairs and Maintenance?

Equipment repairs and maintenance are not the same thing. In an industrial or manufacturing plant, each of these terms has different meanings, although they both fall under the continuum of maintenance.

For example, repairs are the actions taken to restore an asset when it breaks down, becomes damaged or stops working. On the other hand, maintenance is the routine activities that are performed on assets. Its purpose is to prevent damage and prolong the asset’s life expectancy.

While maintenance/repairs have significant differences, scopes and functions, their ultimate goal is to ensure that they keep equipment in good shape and working order.

What Are Repairs?

Repairs are the activities taken by maintenance personnel to fix something that is already broken. This necessarily implies that there has been a partial malfunction or a complete breakdown of the asset in question. It requires taking something that is worn, damaged or faulty and restoring it to a good working condition. In essence, it entails restorative work.

Types of repairs

On the repair continuum or spectrum, it is important to note that there are different types of repairs that can be carried out. These types of repairs are usually grouped into two main categories: partial repair and complete repair. We explore each one in more detail below.

  • Partial repair: Partial repair takes place when a piece of equipment is still operational or functional but at a lower capacity. Through corrective actions, the asset can be restored to good condition and functionality before the issue that has been identified results in a complete failure. It is worth noting that if partial repairs are not carried out, this could lead to potential safety hazards at the manufacturing premises and could later lead to complete breakdowns at inconvenient times.
  • Complete repair: Complete repairs take place when the equipment is broken and cannot function at all until the repair work carried out restores it to its original condition. As such, the asset becomes completely unavailable for use. Often, the root cause of the failure will determine the amount of resources required to fix the issue. Some of the potential disadvantages that can occur as a result of complete repairs include costly and unplanned downtime.

When an equipment failure or breakdown occurs, it can be very expensive to repair. This can also cause a halt in production activities, affecting the overall productivity of the organisation. While some potential failures are due to human error, others may be caused by unforeseen accidents, natural wear and tear and other possible causes. In many cases, these situations can be avoided through preventive maintenance.

What Is Maintenance?


In a manufacturing plant operation, the concept of maintenance refers to the process of preserving assets’ conditions so that they operate optimally. It corrects problems before they occur or become serious. There are several different types of maintenance that many organisations fluctuate between.

Types of Maintenance

In this section, we outline the different types of maintenance that you can expect to encounter. Each one has its place in maintenance operations and its own advantages. Let’s explore these different types in more detail below.

  • Reactive (emergency) maintenance: Reactive maintenance, also referred to as emergency maintenance, run-to-failure or breakdown, takes place after an asset has stopped functioning properly. This type of maintenance happens when a piece of machinery breaks down. They are often unplanned. Due to the minimal planning involved, reactive maintenance can end up being quite costly, resulting in production delays, spare part delays and other challenges.
  • Preventive maintenance: Preventive or preventative maintenance is a more proactive approach to maintenance. Instead of waiting for an asset to malfunction or break down, maintenance tasks are scheduled at regular intervals (such as part changes, lubrication, inspections, etc.), either by time or usage. The purpose of this type of maintenance is to ensure that the asset does not break unexpectedly and its lifespan is prolonged. Often, preventive maintenance is carried out in terms of the asset manufacturer’s guidelines and warranty documentation. It is usually scheduled and raises alerts through a computerised maintenance management system (CMMS) that triggers work orders when this type of maintenance is due, automating scheduling and getting work done in advance. In turn, this ensures that maintenance teams have the right parts and resources in order to complete the task faster and more efficiently.
  • Predictive maintenance: Similar to preventive maintenance, proactive maintenance looks at the need for maintenance based on a set of triggers, which are often integrated into a broader CMMS through sensors that provide constant monitoring of critical conditions. In short, it aims to predict failures before they take place. This enables maintenance tasks to be carried out at the right time.

Reliability-centred maintenance (RCM): Through this particular type of maintenance, all possible failure modes for each piece of equipment are analysed. It recognises that failure is not always linear. As such, it focuses on creating customised maintenance plans for each asset to increase equipment availability and reliability.

Use Fabrico CMMS to Optimise Maintenance Operations

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When it comes to the repairs and maintenance of machines, there are certain costs to bear in mind. Equipment repairs and maintenance expenses can accumulate and cost organisations a hefty amount of financial and other resources.

That’s why fixed asset repairs and maintenance should be planned proactively through preventive maintenance that makes use of a CMMS to ensure that business repairs and maintenance are carried out as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible.

Finding such a solution is now easy: Fabrico’s CMMS is a powerful tool that can help you reduce repairs and maintenance expenses and ensure that your organisation functions at optimal capacity.

Schedule a demo with Fabrico’s team today!


If you are wondering, “What does ‘repairs and maintenance’ include?” it’s important to first distinguish between these two terms.

Although there may be multiple repairs and maintenance examples, the different types outlined above are the most common ones.

Overall, the significance of both repairs and maintenance to keep equipment in good condition and working order should not be underestimated.

This is why you are encouraged to adopt proactive maintenance strategies to help your organisation thrive in any type of environment.

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