Hydraulic System Maintenance: “Run-to-Fail” or Proactive

Do you have a backhoe or fleet of equipment which uses hydraulic hose systems? Maybe your company utilizes a large hydraulic system for processing or production. Your hydraulic hoses, couplings, pumps, and assemblies are important components, and they eventually wear out. Some companies take a “run to fail” approach on hydraulic system maintenance, and this is in their best interests. Other companies are proactive with their maintenance. Here are some of the good and bad things about each system from Paca Industrial, to help you reach an informed decision.

Benefits of “Run to Fail” Maintenance

Waiting until parts fail can be the best maintenance plan for some businesses. For example, you do not have to pay maintenance staff for routine inspections and simple repairs. When hydraulic hose fittings or hoses fail you simply replace them. You might be able to outsource your maintenance, and when something goes wrong, you can call your maintenance service onsite for troubleshooting or repairs.

When you have limited maintenance staff on hand, you spend less money on employee-related expenses. For every maintenance job you eliminate, you save on worker compensation and health insurance premiums. You have fewer supervisory and HR issues. However, there are some downsides to this kind of maintenance program.

Problems with “Run to Fail”

If you wait until components like hydraulic hose couplings or hoses fail, you may have to deal with extensive downtime. For example, if you replace hoses when you notice they are worn, you can schedule hydraulic hose maintenance while the system is not running. Yet, when a hose breaks during the production day, you have to shut down the system until it gets replaced. Downtime might be even longer if you have to order parts and wait for them to arrive.

Proactive Maintenance Benefits

Being proactive means you take care of little issues before they become big issues. If hydraulic hoses are cracked or hard, this is a good time to replace them. Since the repair is not an emergency you do not have to replace the hose or hydraulic assembly right away. You can wait until the production process is shut down for other reasons. This is a good way to avoid expensive downtime and keep your operation running.

Hydraulic oil leaks can be a big problem. If a hose is worn and eventually breaks you could lose a significant amount of oil. You also have a mess to clean up and oil on the floor can be a safety concern.

Do you want to increase output without adding to your workforce or equipment? Proactive maintenance can increase production. With fewer downtime issues, your operation has longer running time.

The Downside of Proactive Maintenance

Maybe you run a 24-hour operation. You may not be able to schedule maintenance or repairs to eliminate downtime. Shutting down (for repairs which can wait) is not the most cost-effective solution. In some cases, outsourced maintenance staff may work best. Smaller companies may not be able to afford full-time maintenance staff.

Points to Ponder

Run to fail maintenance means you do not make repairs until things fail. Proactive means you take care of little issues as they arise to limit downtime. For companies with maintenance staff and normal business hours, a proactive approach is a viable option. However, 24-hour companies (and businesses with limited budgets) may do better with outsourced maintenance and a “run to fail” program.

For more information, please visit our website at or call 1-877-998-6446 to speak to one of our sales representatives.

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