7 maintenance downtime reduction strategies
This post is part of a series detailing the benefits of digital transformation in maintenance and how facilities can improve asset management by using maintenance software. Check out the other articles in this series:
- Major league maintenance: How to cut costs and boost revenue with digital maintenance technology
- Knowledge is power: How to improve asset reliability with a digital knowledge hub
- Time is money: Tips for using maintenance software to save time and spend more efficiently
Table of contents
According to studies of the manufacturing industry, manufacturers deal with an average of 800 hours of downtime annually and lose at least 5% productivity because of it. The typical cost of downtime for industrial manufacturers is between $30,000 and $50,000 per hour. This means, conservatively, downtime can cost the average company between $10 and $25 million a year! In fact, the total annual cost of unscheduled maintenance across process industries in the US is $20 billion per year, according to a report from market research firm ARC Advisory Group.
The immediate loss of productivity isn’t the only financial drawback of downtime. A manufacturer that fails to deliver on a promise to a customer because of unplanned maintenance risks losing trust and business.
Manufacturers can avoid the nasty consequences of downtime by taking their maintenance operations digital. Shifting from pen and paper or spreadsheets to a digital platform makes it easier to track, record, analyze and plan maintenance activities. This can pave the way to a more balanced strategy that prioritizes preventive maintenance and establishes more efficient ways to tackle downtime.
Common causes of downtime and how digitization can help fix them
The following are five common obstacles maintenance teams face when reducing downtime and how digitization can help address the root causes to cut down on unplanned repairs.
1. A lack of reliable data
Unplanned maintenance is often the result of improper preventive measures. But it’s impossible to determine the right level of preventive maintenance without a complete view of the historical data for an asset. This data is hard to organize and analyze with a pen and paper system or spreadsheets, leading to unreliable, inaccurate numbers and more downtime.
Digital solution: Centralized data
A digital platform allows maintenance teams to log and sort historical data for assets. Having an overview of maintenance activities for an asset’s entire life allows managers and technicians to fine-tune their approach to preventive maintenance. Establishing more effective triggers and flagging prominent issues can increase asset efficiency and reduce downtime from breakdowns.
2. A slow work order process
Manufacturing facilities are often victims of slow work order processes based on written requests. Technicians aren’t notified of a problem until operators have time to fill out a work order by hand, deliver it in person and wait for it to be read. The longer they’re in the dark, the more downtime occurs.
Digital solution: Improved communication
Digital work orders can solve many problems associated with paper-based ones. They can be filed from anywhere using a mobile device, automatically added to a list available to technicians, and technicians can receive alerts for new work, and sort work orders by priority. The result is quicker communication, faster action and a downtime reduction strategy.
Manufacturers deal with an average of 800 hours of downtime annually and lose at least 5% productivity because of it. Conservatively, downtime can cost the average company between $10 and $25 million a year!
3. Inefficient maintenance practices
Inefficient maintenance practices can prolong or create downtime, whether it’s during routine checks or while fixing a breakdown. Walking back and forth to retrieve documents, completing tasks out of order and searching through manuals can all lead to lost time or mistakes, perpetuating the cycle of downtime.
Digital solution: Access to a library of resources
Digitization means being able to put all resources in one place, making them accessible to everyone and standardizing maintenance practices. For example, when repairing a machine, technicians can quickly access its history, manuals, how-to videos, exploded-view drawing and checklists without leaving the asset. This can speed up the repair process substantially.
4. A deficit of accountability
When tasks are assigned and logged through pen and paper, a whiteboard or a spreadsheet, project ownership is hard to define, a record of work is difficult to establish and things fall through the cracks. A lack of accountability often leads to incomplete maintenance and forgotten projects, which are all sources of downtime.
Digital solution: Better work records
Managing maintenance from beginning to end through one central digital system ensures everyone on the maintenance team is accountable and sticking to standards. Work orders can be assigned to specific technicians and data is captured on the time and steps taken to complete the task. This creates a sense of ownership and ensures repairs are tracked and completed properly.
5. Insufficient inventory tracking
If you can’t properly track which parts you have on site, or it takes too long to find the appropriate piece, it can set repairs and planned maintenance back significantly. Pen and paper or spreadsheet systems can quickly become outdated. These systems also can’t tell you if a certain part from a vendor may be the cause the problem.
Digital solution: Improved inventory records
Upgrading to a digital platform allows you to automatically update your inventory and see which parts are on site without visiting the stockroom. You can also set minimum levels so you’ll never be out of a crucial part. You can even collect and analyze data from breakdowns to see if a defective part is the cause of downtime and explore alternatives.
A Fiix guide to CMMS features that help reduce downtime
Scheduling and calendar
The scheduling and calendar tool in Fiix’s CMMS allows maintenance managers to automatically trigger work orders for preventive tasks and coordinate maintenance with production schedules. Maintenance teams can make the most of the time available to perform preventive work while avoiding excessive backlog, lost production and unplanned downtime.
Root cause analysis
The root cause analysis (RCA) feature in the CMMS gives maintenance teams the opportunity to collect data on breakdowns for particular assets and determine the common causes of downtime. Once identified, problems can be corrected or monitored to prevent further cases of downtime.
Digital work orders can solve many problems associated with paper-based ones. They can be filed from anywhere, automatically added to a list available to technicians, and sorted by priority.
The inventory tracking module on the Fiix CMMS is the perfect way for maintenance teams to skip the time required to physically check stock levels when performing repairs or checks. It can also automate ordering of crucial parts so you are never stuck without a piece you need. All this adds up to reduce downtime.
Mobile work orders
The ability to submit and view work orders on Fiix’s mobile CMMS is a simple upgrade over pen and paper that can have a huge impact on your quest to reduce downtime. Requests can be sent, viewed, prioritized, assigned and tracked in real time. Alerts ensure technicians are aware at every step. This makes for a smoother work order process, increases accountability, improves reliability and cuts downtime.
The reporting feature on Fiix’s CMMS can have all sorts of uses. When it comes to reducing unplanned maintenance, this module is key to analyzing the reliability and performance of certain assets over time so informed decisions can be made on preventive schedules, repair or replace protocols, work order priority and more.
If you would like to learn more about strategies to reduce downtime, increase production and plan better preventive maintenance, check out these articles: