Category Archives: Mechanical

Service vs. Maintenance – What’s The Difference?

Getting your car serviced is different from getting regular maintenance done. I am just going to preface this blog with that. Essentially, maintenance is what you get regularly done on your vehicle to make sure it stays in fighting form. Maintenance is something that’s scheduled – like an oil change – whereas service is when you need something specific fixed or tuned up that’s outside of your regular maintenance schedule. It’s a really tiny distinction but it’s important. If you don’t get regular maintenance on your vehicle, you’ll probably have to get it serviced more, and those services will be more expensive than normal.

Maintenance of your car works the same way as taking care of your body – if you take your vitamins regularly, eat healthy, exercise, and take care of yourself, you won’t have to go to the doctor’s as often, and you’re at a lower risk of getting a disease or serious illness. The same applies to cars! You should stick to a regular maintenance plan because making sure you get your oil changes, tire rotations, and other inspections done regularly means that you won’t have to get things fixed as often.

Service vs. maintenance

There is a noteworthy distinction between the activities of “maintenance” on one hand and “service” on the other. Maintenance is a partial or total renewal of an item. Maintenance reduces the physical age of an item or can even “zero time” the item by rejuvenating some or all of its components. By contrast, Nowlan and Heap describe “service” as “activities necessary for achieving the design life of the asset”. Service is something that we have to do, operationally, if we wish to achieve the item’s inherent reliability. Service should not, generally speaking, in RCM or LRCM, be the object of intense debate or scrutiny by reliability or maintenance engineers.

We note the difference between service and maintenance, primarily to address a frequent confusion of priorities for reliability engineering studies. Generally speaking, maintenance engineers should not spend significant energy second guessing the manufacturers’ service recommendations. Those are usually a good starting point and can be taken at face value. Rather, reliability engineers should target their reliability studies towards the improvement of maintenance strategies. To this end, they should spend the bulk of their time in the following activities:

  1. managing the RCM knowledge base,
  2. managing the relationships (reference links) between the RCM knowledge base and the work order database,
  3. generating samples for reliability analysis,
  4. performing reliability analysis,
  5. reporting the recommendations derived from their analyses,
  6. monitoring the performance of all of the above (low level or “leading” KPIs), and
  7. monitoring the results of implementing those recommendations (high level or “lagging” KPIs).

Service tasks often represent opportunities for effective CBM measurements. In this respect they justify scrutiny by the RCM analysts.