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How to Reduce Unplanned Downtime with Effective Maintenance & Repairs

Posted by Henkel on 4/21/2023

How to Reduce Unplanned Downtime with Effective Maintenance and Repairs

Whether it’s the result of a jammed line, a generator going down, or a key piece of machinery failing, unplanned downtime can be crippling to your operation.

When processes stop unexpectedly, it can lead to hours of productivity drops and hundreds of thousands of dollars being lost. Unplanned downtime, whatever the cause, can have a significant impact on your business.

It’s how you react to unplanned downtime that can dictate how much of an effect it has. In this piece, we explore some top tips for minimizing the effect of things breaking down when you least expect it and how to reduce unplanned downtime.

Employ a strict maintenance schedule

Planned maintenance strategies are far more effective at reducing downtime than reactive outlooks. Failures do happen, but an effective strategy centers around not simply accepting these as inevitable.

If you can fix a problem before it ever happens, it can save both time and money. Being preventative in your approach to maintenance can also help reduce the cost of reactively having to repair a failed piece of equipment.

Utilizing data, whether that’s from sensors that show the likely lifespan of components, or historic data that indicates the likely failure date, allows you to be more proactive.

Your maintenance plan should include:

  • Inspecting equipment and machinery regularly for wear and tear.
  • Following recommended maintenance schedules for specific pieces of machinery.
  • Cleaning, making oil changes, and carrying out minor repairs regularly.
  • Keeping accurate records of previous maintenance and services to allow you to spot trends.

When you detect any issues within the process, you can easily factor in the time and costs to ensure you know how your business will be impacted by downtime.

Address Chronic Failure

The industry average for causes of unexpected downtime is split between chronic failures (70%) and sporadic failures (30%). Many organizations accept chronic failures, such as minor leaks, component breaks, and wear, learning to live with them as part of their operation. This is often because they don’t see these happenings as being as catastrophic as serious sporadic events, accepting them as normal. Companies that don’t accept chronic failures as normal and eliminate or reduce them with preventative measures are the ones working towards world class manufacturing. However, some common chronic failures don’t need to happen at all. By tackling these more effectively, you can reduce their impact and extend the time between failures, or even eliminate them. Doing so can reduce unplanned downtime occurrences. 

Some of the most common chronic causes include:

  • Hydraulic, gasket, and air leaks in pipes
  • Threaded fasteners loosening due to vibration
  • Shaft misalignment
  • Key wallow, slack, and spun bearings
  • General wear and tear
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