Computerized numerical control (CNC) turning center plays an important role in manufacturing industries. Reliability and maintainability are the key activities in any manufacturing industry to complete weekly/monthly/yearly manufacturing targets by maintaining the health of the CNC turning center. Therefore, it is essential to prioritize sub-systems of the CNC turning center according to criticality. In this context, analytic hierarchy process (AHP), one of the multiple criteria decision-making (MCDM) tool, is used for prioritizing sub-systems of the CNC turning center for four different criteria, viz. failure frequency, sub-system downtime, maintenance cost, and customer inconvenience. The major 14 sub-systems of the CNC turning center are considered for the analysis. SS, CNC, XZAS, TS, EES, and MT are the critical sub-systems of CNC turning center for the selected criteria and should be monitored carefully. The critical sub-systems for individual criteria are also identified. This case study shows that the AHP is a simple and effective tool for prioritizing the sub-systems and beneficial for maintenance managers to decide optimum maintenance strategies. © Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020.