What is downtime and how to reduce it

Whether it’s a conveyor belt in a factory or a server at Google, machines are a highly important part of how we work and live. If for some reason downtime on these systems occur, there will be some negative responses.

In this post, we will talk all things downtime, including what is it, why it happens, and how to manage it.

What is downtime?

Downtime is the duration of time in which a system is unavailable. It can be planned or unplanned.

Unplanned downtime is exactly what it sounds like.  Time lost due to unexpected circumstances. Random equipment breakdowns are the most common cause of unplanned downtime. 

Planned downtime is much more beneficial to the equipment. It is the necessary “break” our systems and equipment take while they undergo routine, or preventive maintenance. 

For both of these scenarios, equipment is not available to be used for its intended function while undergoing downtime of any kind. 

Downtime and manufacturing

Manufacturers have been combatting downtime since day one. But that’s not really a surprise, because if there is any sort of downtime, there’s a significant decrease in productivity. 

Downtime can also disrupt contractual duties with partnering companies due to the decreased yield in production.

Companies usually use metrics like Mean Time To Repair (MTTR) and Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF) to measure downtime and estimate the effectiveness of performed maintenance work.

Downtime and availability

Availability is the probability that a piece of equipment will be available when it’s needed. It shows what the chances are that a piece of equipment is fully operational during its intended work hours.  

A piece of equipment is said to be available if it is:

  • Operational (not out for repair and maintenance)
  • Working at an expected rate (productivity levels up to par)
  • Working at the time it is needed (the start of the shift and throughout the workday)

Availability is obtained by dividing uptime by the sum of uptime and downtime.

What causes equipment downtime?

In order to combat equipment failures and unplanned downtime, it is important to understand why they happen in the first place. You do not have to run a root cause analysis for every equipment breakdown. Some causes are fairly obvious.

Operator Error

Improper operations are one of the most common causes of equipment breakdowns.

Improper training (or no training) will eventually result in poor usage of equipment.

An equipment operator who is not properly trained for work on a certain machine and needs to work on it due to short staffing or unexpected absences, is more likely to be a danger for themselves, those around them, as well as the machine they are using. 

No preventive maintenance

It is easy to overlook preventive maintenance, especially when everything is going smoothly. This is also true when the workload is staggering.

However, early signs of equipment failure can be extremely slight and easy to dismiss. 

If you continue to operate this way, you will eventually run into downtime. To combat this, maintenance teams need to understand equipment failure and apply preventive maintenance.

While doing preventive maintenance should be standard practice, even good things need to be done in moderation. 

Doing excessive maintenance 

For some preventative maintenance tasks, the equipment needs to be shut down and (potentially) taken apart. If you do that more often than it is needed, it means you are contributing to unnecessary planned downtime. 

To add to the downfalls, every time a piece of equipment is opened up for maintenance, it is exposed to a bunch of risks (i.e. screws not being completely tightened, damaging sensitive components during replacement, electrical wires being connected wrong, etc.) Over time, these risks can build up and drive the equipment to failure. 

Combating excessive maintenance

Maintenance teams often find themselves asking what is the least amount of scheduled maintenance they can perform to keep equipment in good shape and functional. 

The simplest way to combat excessive maintenance is to use a CMMS, like CHAMPS, to schedule work orders on your equipment and track the effectiveness of the work.

How to use CMMS to organize scheduled downtime

CMMS systems can be extremely helpful when it comes to gathering maintenance data. They can help you schedule preventive work while taking into account production schedules, availability, and the workload of the maintenance team.

The only way you’ll be able to appreciate it is to try CHAMPS CMMS for yourself.  Our system is effective, efficient, and convenient.  You’ll even be able to try it free for 30 days!  To set up a personalized demo or for more information email debby@champsinc.com.  Preventive maintenance can get complicated, but CHAMPS makes maintenance management a breeze.

Leave a Reply Text

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.