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Customer Spotlight

"We chose the PlantRun System because of its wide capacity for integration with all our equipment and what seems like an endless scope for customisation.”
Adam Marsland
Senior Design Engineer
Harman Technology
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Manufacturing operations are crucial components of many industries, including automotive, aerospace and consumer goods. However, unexpected downtime can disrupt production, resulting in significant financial losses, decreased product quality, missed delivery deadlines, and increased maintenance and repair expenses. To combat these issues, companies must focus on minimising unexpected downtime through proactive maintenance and monitoring.

In this article, we'll explore what unexpected downtime is, the costs associated with it, real-world examples of its impact, strategies for combating it, the benefits of using machine monitoring systems like PlantRun, and how PlantRun can help companies achieve their goals.

Understanding Unexpected Downtime

Unexpected downtime refers to unscheduled production interruptions that occur due to equipment failure, component damage, operator errors, or other factors outside of planned maintenance schedules. Unlike planned downtime, which occurs during scheduled maintenance or upgrades, unexpected downtime can happen at any time, causing delays and reducing productivity. The longer the downtime, the greater the impact on a company's bottom line.

Costs of Unexpected Downtime

The costs of unexpected downtime can be significant, both financially and operationally. For example, a one-hour delay in automotive production can cost a manufacturer thousands of pounds in lost revenue, while a power outage at a data centre can result in millions of pounds in lost business and recovery costs. In addition to lost production time and revenue, unexpected downtime can also result in reduced product quality, missed delivery deadlines, and increased maintenance and repair expenses.

Combatting Machine Breakdowns

In the manufacturing industry, unexpected machine breakdown can result in delays and lost profits. For example, if a machine breaks down, it can cause a delay in production that can lead to missed deadlines and lost revenue. PlantRun can combat this in a number of ways.

Strategy 1: Engineer Callout and Rectification Tracking

To combat unexpected machine breakdown, companies can implement proactive maintenance and monitoring strategies. PlantRun provides a touchscreen interface or keypad terminal that allows the operator to make a call out to the maintenance department. From there, the response time and rectification time can be tracked, allowing the department to review whether the processes in place are working. By making a call out, the operator does not have to try to find the responsible person and can stay at their post.

Strategy 2: Condition Monitoring

Condition monitoring is an essential part of proactive maintenance and can significantly reduce unexpected downtime in manufacturing operations. By continuously monitoring the condition of critical equipment, PlantRun can detect early signs of wear or damage that could lead to equipment failure and unexpected downtime.

Through the use of sensors, PlantRun can gather real-time data on the performance and condition of equipment. This data is then analyzed to identify any deviations from normal operating conditions that could indicate a potential problem. By detecting these issues early, maintenance teams can take corrective action before the equipment fails, preventing unexpected downtime and minimizing the impact on production schedules.

In addition, condition monitoring systems can provide insights into the root cause of equipment failure, allowing maintenance teams to address the underlying issue and prevent future failures. This approach helps reduce maintenance costs and increases equipment reliability, resulting in improved production efficiency and profitability.

Strategy 3: Startup Quality Checklists

Conducting startup quality checks is an effective strategy for reducing unexpected downtime in manufacturing operations. By performing these checks before production begins, operators can identify potential issues that could lead to equipment failure or product defects, allowing for corrective action to be taken before production is disrupted.

Startup quality checks typically involve verifying that all equipment is in proper working condition, that all required materials are available, and that all settings and configurations are correct. By doing so, operators can ensure that production runs smoothly and that product quality is consistent.

By conducting startup quality checks, companies can also identify any recurring issues or trends in their production processes that may be leading to unexpected downtime. This information can be used to improve processes and reduce the likelihood of future downtime events.

By using a manufacturing information system like PlantRun, companies can streamline the startup quality check process and ensure that all necessary checks are completed. PlantRun can automatically prompt operators to perform checks and provide guidance on the specific tasks that need to be completed. Rules can be put in place on the system so that the machine cannot be ran until the checks are complete and any issues are rectified. It can also provide real-time data on equipment performance and product quality, allowing for early detection of any issues that could lead to unexpected downtime.

Strategy 4: Usage Based Maintenance


Usage-based maintenance (UBM) is a maintenance strategy that involves performing maintenance activities on equipment or machinery based on their actual usage rather than predetermined maintenance schedules. This approach can help combat unexpected downtime in manufacturing in several ways:

  • Improved Equipment Reliability: By tracking the actual usage of equipment or machinery, UBM can help identify potential problems before they result in unexpected downtime. This is because UBM allows maintenance teams to schedule maintenance activities based on the actual wear and tear of the equipment, rather than relying on generic maintenance schedules that may not accurately reflect the condition of the machinery.

  • Reduced Maintenance Costs: UBM can help reduce maintenance costs by avoiding unnecessary maintenance activities that may be performed too frequently or too infrequently. This is because UBM allows maintenance teams to perform maintenance activities based on the actual usage of the equipment, which can help reduce the frequency of maintenance activities without compromising on reliability.

  • Increased Equipment Uptime: UBM can help increase equipment uptime by ensuring that maintenance activities are performed at the optimal time, minimising the risk of unexpected downtime. This is because UBM allows maintenance teams to schedule maintenance activities based on the actual usage of the equipment, which can help identify potential problems before they result in unexpected downtime.

  • Improved Safety: UBM can also help improve safety by ensuring that equipment is properly maintained and functioning correctly. This is because UBM can help identify potential safety issues before they become a problem, reducing the risk of accidents and injuries.

With continuous monitoring of equipment run time and cycles, PlantRun makes usage based maintenance simple to implement. Dashboards display usage since last maintenance and usage to date, while alerts notify the maintenance team when maintenance is due for each asset that is monitored.

Combatting Lack of Stoppage Information

Not accurately tracking the reasons for downtime can lead to several problems for manufacturers. Firstly, it becomes difficult to identify the root cause of downtime, making it harder to address the issue and prevent it from happening again in the future. This can result in a higher frequency of unexpected downtime, increased maintenance costs, and reduced production efficiency.

Secondly, without accurate tracking of downtime reasons, it can be challenging to make data-driven decisions to improve manufacturing processes. This can lead to missed opportunities for optimising production and reducing costs.

Strategy: Downtime Reason Tracking

PlantRun can help address these problems by providing a comprehensive solution for logging and tracking downtime reasons. By accurately recording the reasons for downtime, PlantRun enables manufacturers to identify the root causes of problems, allowing for targeted improvements to be made to the production process.

Additionally, by providing real-time visibility into equipment performance and downtime reasons, PlantRun allows shop floor operators and management to make data-driven decisions to optimise production and reduce costs. By using the data collected by PlantRun to identify trends and patterns, manufacturers can implement predictive maintenance strategies and improve equipment reliability, leading to fewer instances of unexpected downtime.

TV Screen Top 5 Downtime Reasons
Machine monitoring systems like PlantRun can help companies combat unexpected downtime by providing real-time insights into equipment performance, identifying potential issues before they cause downtime, and allowing for proactive maintenance and repair. Benefits of using machine monitoring systems include improved equipment performance, reduced maintenance costs, and increased production efficiency.