The five most common types of maintenance triggers

  • 10 November 2022
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The five most common types of maintenance triggers
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Maintenance triggers aren’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Matching the right triggers to the right assets takes time and effort, but the end result is a more efficient and reliable facility.

In this post, we’ll explore the five most common types of maintenance triggers and share when and how to use each of them to improve your maintenance program. 


#1 Breakdown trigger

This occurs when a piece of equipment breaks down and can’t be used anymore. When this happens, an alert is triggered and maintenance is scheduled to fix the problem and return the equipment to operation.

Breakdown maintenance triggers are a clear sign that a run-to-failure maintenance strategy is being used for an asset. They are also often put in place on non-critical assets that can be replaced or fixed quickly with little cost or effect on production with planned stock availability.

For example, a light bulb is allowed to operate until it goes out, which triggers a maintenance order that can be fulfilled quickly because extra light bulbs have been stocked for this exact scenario. 

Maintenance types that use breakdown triggers include corrective, reactive, and run-to-failure.


#2 Time trigger

This is one of the most frequently used maintenance triggers. Here’s how it works: an asset is scheduled for maintenance on a predetermined schedule, such as the first of every month or every 14 days. When that time arrives, a maintenance work order is triggered, a technician is alerted and the maintenance task is completed.

Time triggers come in many different shapes and sizes, from an hourly indicator to a seasonal one, and are part of a preventive approach to maintenance. By scheduling maintenance at regular intervals, it helps ensure assets are functioning properly with a minimal amount of unplanned downtime. 

They are best used for simple tasks, such as oil changes, and on assets that have an established best-before date, such as air conditioning filters that need to be changed every spring.

Maintenance types that use time triggers include preventivecondition-based, and predictive.


#3 Usage trigger

This occurs when an asset requires maintenance after operating at a certain output. 

A belt may need to be inspected after 100 hours of production, tires could be checked after 10,000km and induction sealing equipment might require maintenance after 20 production cycles. When these thresholds are met, a work order is triggered and maintenance is scheduled.

Usage triggers are another hallmark of a preventive maintenance strategy. Rather than wait for an asset to deteriorate and fail with the strain of use, a trigger is identified to prevent unplanned downtime from happening. That belt is inspected after 100 hours so it doesn’t stop working in hour 101 or hour 150 or whenever you need it most.

They are best used on assets that are critical for production, are either heavily or irregularly used and have identifiable, usage-based failure rates, such as drills at a mining operation.

Maintenance types that use usage triggers include preventive, condition-based, and predictive.


#4 Event trigger

Here, maintenance tasks and activities are triggered by a specific scenario or event. For example, if the basement of your facility floods, the electrical systems must be checked, or, if an audit is scheduled, certain assets must be inspected.

By its very nature, an event trigger is part of a planned, reactive maintenance strategy. Many events are unforeseen, but that doesn’t mean you can’t plan for the unexpected. Creating event-based triggers help maintenance teams build a blueprint for emergencies or a sudden adjustment, so tasks can be completed quickly, assets can be maintained properly and parts are on-hand when needed.

They should be used on critical assets that are prone to impact by external forces. For example, equipment at a facility susceptible to hurricanes or an asset with a higher emissions output that might be subject to new environmental laws.

Maintenance types that use event triggers include preventivecondition-based, and predictive. 


#5 Condition trigger

When a condition-based maintenance trigger is in place, it identifies the problem areas and alerts a technician that maintenance needs to be performed.

For example, an engine may be overheating or a bearing on a conveyor belt may be vibrating too much, which could lead to the entire piece of equipment breaking down. When these conditions are discovered, maintenance tasks are triggered, so the engine can be cooled down or the bearing can be tightened.

Condition-based maintenance triggers are part of a well-planned preventive maintenance program. If a piece of equipment isn’t functioning right, it can be checked, adjusted and returned to normal operation without much expense or time instead of experiencing a costly and time-consuming failure. 

These are the most complex triggers for maintenance because data about the condition of each asset must be obtained and interpreted. The equipment needed to perform condition monitoring often requires specialized training and experience to operate effectively, and is why condition-based triggers are best used on very critical assets that have predictable failure conditions and can integrate condition monitoring methods into their operation.

Maintenance types that use condition triggers include condition-based, and predictive.


We’re curious to learn which triggers are part of your maintenance strategy today, and which ones you hope to add in the future. 

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