Planned downtime is a scheduled shutdown. While no amount of downtime is great for any organization, planned downtime can be used strategically to perform routine maintenance or critical equipment upgrades. Scheduling planned downtime can be a preventative way to avoid unplanned shutdowns, which often occur due to inadequate maintenance.
While it is certainly beneficial for an organization to be able to predict and manage downtime, any kind of downtime, planned or unplanned, can hurt a company. Using the right software and tools can help reduce downtime overall, so that even planned downtime events, such as inspections, can be performed exactly as often as needed.
Using the right tools to plan for downtime
Planning for downtime requires the right data, and collecting, conditioning and analyzing that data requires the right tools. Predictive maintenance software such as Aspen Mtell® uses machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) to collect data and recognize failure patterns across your systems and equipment. The software will warn of an upcoming failure, provide suggestions for how to resolve the issue, and forecast how the issue will affect other aspects of the organization. These kinds of metrics are critical for understanding how to properly plan for downtime.
Once you have the data to anticipate downtime, you are prepared to manage that downtime effectively. For example: predictive maintenance software forecasts that a fuel line will need to be replaced within two weeks. Having this lead time allows you to buy a replacement part and schedule an appropriate window during which to shut down the machine and safely replace the fuel line. Had the software not detected this issue, the organization could have ended up with a costly, and potentially hazardous, fuel leak.
How to appropriately schedule planned downtime
Although downtime can be scheduled in advance, it may still have an adverse effect on the operation. A work stoppage, regardless of the cause, is still a source of lost income. It is therefore critical to plan your downtime strategically.
Planned downtime should ideally occur during a period of low output — in other words, when a work stoppage will hurt the company’s bottom line the least. This may be at night, over the weekend or simply during slower hours. Asset management software can help visualize these production cycles and show when and where equipment is working its hardest.
How to reduce planned downtime
To reduce planned downtime, organizations must already be in a position to monitor their plant metrics in real time, as well as understand the implications of these metrics. From here, the next step in reducing downtime is identifying the largest source of downtime, then taking measures to reduce it. For example, one common source of planned downtime is routine machine inspection. If these inspections become time-consuming or excessive, you may need to employ prescriptive maintenance software in order to reduce the need for the inspections in the first place.
Another way to reduce planned downtime is to invest in your staff. A knowledgeable, experienced maintenance team with good interpersonal communication can dramatically reduce the time needed to diagnose and handle an issue. Achieving this goal might require an ongoing effort from your team, including: holding weekly team meetings, maintaining proper channels for communication such as email, establishing a clear point of escalation and initiating proper protocols, or standard operating procedures, for how to deal with specific maintenance issues. It is also important for your maintenance team to have good communication with other teams, too; planning for a routine shutdown becomes less efficient if the cleaning crews and other workers don’t know about it in advance.
Ensuring a steady supply line for spare parts — or having them routinely on hand — will also go a long way toward speeding up your repair or maintenance procedures. If your manufacturing plant is located in a rural or isolated region, replacing a part could take weeks. Ensuring that all critical parts are in stock at your plant or are able to be shipped within a reasonable timeframe allows you to plan more strategically for plant downtime.
How do you reduce equipment downtime?
When a piece of equipment fails, your plant’s operational capacity drops. To reduce downtime, you should make sure that you have proper asset management software in place, spare parts on hand and a maintenance team that is qualified and prepared to handle the equipment failure issue.
How do you calculate manufacturing downtime cost?
Manufacturing downtime can cost more than $1 million USD per day. Factored into this total cost are not only direct financial expenses, such as replacement parts, repairs and lost or damaged inventory, but also environmental consequences and worker injuries. In general, planned downtime can cost much less than unplanned downtime.