Tracking Downtime: Increasing Manufacturing Maintenance Efficiency

These days, company leaders cannot afford to overlook the impact of equipment downtime on organization profitability. Unexpected equipment downtime forces maintenance personnel to divert their focus from preventive maintenance activities to reactive maintenance. Unfortunately, reactive maintenance is often more expensive than proactive maintenance.

Track Downtime to Develop Proactive Maintenance Plans

Process flow for proactive maintenance on MaintainX

Machine downtime tracking allows operational managers to develop proactive maintenance strategies. The benefits of tracking equipment downtime include:

  • Enabling maintenance teams to focus on proactive maintenance due to minimizing unplanned downtime;
  • Providing maintenance managers valuable insights to prioritize work orders;
  • Encouraging the accurate implementation of corrective maintenance activities;
  • Supporting higher equipment uptime, reliability, and efficiency; and
  • Minimizing unnecessary costs.

Manufacturing industry experts suggest striving to maintain equipment at 90 percent availability with less than 10 percent downtime. However, do not expect to get there overnight. Switching from reactive to proactive maintenance plans requires collecting and analyzing consistent asset data, adequate staffing, and commitments to following a strategic preventive maintenance program and developing a data collection system.

Image of a worker on large machinery

Managing Equipment Downtime

Therefore, we recommend that organizations learn to manage downtime by:

  • Anticipating the impact of downtime on the business: Even for planned downtime, schedule maintenance activities with minimal disruption to production. Try to schedule planned maintenance activities during off-hours. Scheduling maintenance also helps to organize resources for temporary fixes. Unscheduled downtime prevents reaching production goals.
  • Tracking an asset’s Useful Life cycle: Knowing when a machine will reach the end of its useful life cycle helps to prevent unplanned breakdowns. In the event of an unplanned breakdown, understanding the root causes of downtime is valuable as an organization begins to integrate a continuous improvement program. Pareto charts are valuable tools to graphically map common causes of downtime
  • Using advanced technology: A computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) helps organizations monitor asset performance and predict when failure is likely to occur by tracking downtime data. As a result, it enables an organization to take a proactive approach to maintenance and minimize unexpected production downtimes. With a CMMS, real-time data can be collected from the shop floor.

Two powerful maintenance KPIs help track downtime: Mean Time to Repair (MTTR) and Mean Time between Failures (MTBF).

Image of employee next to large tractor

Mean Time to Repair (MTTR)

MTTR is calculated from the time a work order is created to the time a work order is completed. MTTR is only calculated on reactive work orders. This timer starts when the work order is created to account for total downtime (not just Wrench Time). The time is measured from the “Created Date” of that work order for repeating work orders only. The MTTR KPI provides critical productivity data on your organization’s ability to repair equipment quickly after a failure.

MTTR is calculated by dividing the total maintenance time spent on a reactive work order to repair a down asset by the number of reactive repairs on that asset.

Mean Time to Repair (MTTR) is Total Maintenance Time divided by Number of Repairs

By keeping a data-driven mindset and proactively improving your company’s MTTR with training and better instructional information within work orders, you can reduce equipment availability losses due to repairs. The idea is to speed up the equipment’s rate of recovery from failures and breakdowns.

Strategies to reduce MTTR include:

  • Anticipating breakdowns and organizing resources needed for corrective maintenance,
  • Providing maintenance personnel with detailed standard operating procedures to avoid miscommunication while performing tasks,
  • Ensuring that maintenance teams are adequately trained and equipped with the necessary skill sets, and
  • Implementing a well-managed spare parts and tools inventory system.

If you group by Asset and sort by MTTR, you can quickly view the assets causing the most significant bottlenecks in your organization.

Image of employee with wrench

Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF)

MTBF is another useful KPI when considering equipment costs. In other words, if this metric is accurate, it can help inform capital allocation to increase efficiency across the operation. MTBF is calculated by dividing the uptime of an asset by the number of failures for that asset.

Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF) is total uptime divided by number of failures

For example, a production line unit (Asset X) may have run for 3000 hours in a given year. In that year, however, the unit went down 15 times. Therefore, the MTBF for the line is 200 hours. If the average MTBF of a similar production line asset in the factory has an MTBF of 400 hours, you can quickly identify your outlier.

The higher the MTBF, the longer a system is likely to work before failing. For example, if the MTTR is 2 hours, Asset X on the production line above has caused 30 hours of downtime in your operation. If this production line yields $10,000 per hour, those 30 hours of unplanned downtime could amount to $300,000 of lost production output. When you factor in the cost of repairing Asset X in both labor and parts, it makes more fiscal sense to allocate a budget line item to replace the asset this year.

Even more importantly, if you are not running a preventive maintenance program on your assets, consider implementing one. Allowing assets to run to failure and relying on reactive maintenance can be far more costly than implementing preventive maintenance.

Process flow for proactive maintenance on MaintainX

As your organization improves MTTR and MTBF, start tracking your Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE). OEE is a manufacturing standard used to measure the productivity of facilities, processes, and equipment. OEE indicates how efficiently organizations manage the production process by calculating asset availability, asset performance, and product quality.

Screenshot of MaintainX application showing reporting functionality with graphs and charts

Eliminate Downtime with CMMS Asset Tracking

Manufacturing organizations lose revenue due to equipment downtime costs. While it is impossible to eliminate downtime, companies can minimize such occurrences. A downtime tracking system is essential because it determines how an organization uses its maintenance resources. Tracking equipment downtime saves money and time by directing resources to more important maintenance activities.


How long does it take to implement MaintainX?

For the average customer, it takes three weeks to implement one site. For customers on our Premium & Enterprise plans, our team ensures a smooth transition to MaintainX within your organization. Partner with a dedicated implementation specialist through our structured three-week onboarding process. Learn more about our Implementation services here.

Is MaintainX secure?

MaintainX is compliant with security standards, including SOC 2, ISO 27001 & GDPR. It also supports Single Sign-On (SSO), multi-factor authentication (MFA) and custom permissions and roles. For more information, visit our Trust Center page.

Does MaintainX support multiple sites?

Yes, MaintainX Enterprise allows you to manage multiple plants or facilities within the same platform. You can also create customized reporting dashboards to track KPIs across multiple sites on the same screen.

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Caroline Eisner

Caroline Eisner is a writer and editor with experience across the profit and nonprofit sectors, government, education, and financial organizations. She has held leadership positions in K16 institutions and has led large-scale digital projects, interactive websites, and a business writing consultancy.

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