Cyclical Vs Reactive Maintenance

Large-scale or industrial corporate signage and illumination systems are subject to the elements, which over time causes degradation and impairment of the functionality of the signage system, affects the appearance of the site, and possibly even leads to safety hazards. That is why generally there needs to be some kind of upkeep scheme in place. There are two main options to consider:

  1. Cyclical maintenance, also sometimes known as preventative maintenance, is a strategy similar to servicing your car. A car service regularly fixes those things that can generally be predicted will need working on after a certain mileage. Also, a regular service checks that everything is in good order, so as to prevent serious future failures. Cyclical maintenance does the same thing for corporate signage and illumination systems. 
  2. Reactive maintenance, on the other hand, is when work is done purely on an ad-hoc basis. In other words, a crew only comes in after something has gone wrong. 

To help make an informed decision as to which scheme would suit you, here are some of the differences between the two options. 

Cyclical Maintenance

The aim is to prevent failure and extend the overall life-span of signage and illumination systems. 

Maintenance work is planned around on-going site activity and can be carried out while the site remains functional. There need not be a stage where a faulty sign is left standing unattended, thus affecting the image of the site given to the public.

Preventative maintenance is usually less costly in the long run, as major emergency failures can be prevented before more expensive work needs to be done. Also, travel costs are reduced as the maintenance can be worked into a schedule with other work being done in the area. More importantly, the maintenance budget can be planned more effectively as there won’t be surprise costs coming up. 

A good working relationship between the site owner and installation crew can also develop, as the crew becomes familiar with the unique properties of the site. 

Reactive Maintenance

This is a maintenance solution that is initiated only when a call comes through, on an ad-hoc basis. This is appropriate for unforeseeable damage, such as that brought on by weather, vandalism, or vehicle collision.  

The time taken to get the work done can take a while, as several quotes might have to first be compared, then an appointment scheduled. There may be a period where the damaged signage is exposed to the public, which can give the site an unkempt appearance, negatively affecting public perception. 

By allowing sign damage to get extensive before being fixed, there is always the dangerous risk of a site accident, leading to possibly severe legal and financial repercussions.

Cost Comparison

At first glance the costs may seem to be less than for cyclical maintenance because you only spend what is authorized or necessary at the time. In the long run, however, this option can be more expensive, as heavier damage accumulates, and re-visits often need to be made. Here is a table of the cost comparison between the two options:

                                                                                                                                                                                       Average spend / site / year
Company A cyclical maintenance including site cleaning                                         R 37 800.00
Company A cyclical maintenance excluding site cleaning R 27 047.86
Company B reactive maintenance (call outs) R 51 260.50
These costs essentially relate to the same site cover, and so the data from the above table can be easily compared at a glance. The yellow row represents the costs involved with planned, cyclical and preventative maintenance, whereas the blue row indicates the ad hoc, reactive scheme. As can be seen, the cyclical option is far more cost effective. Site cleaning could be added to this program and still be cheaper in the long run.