How to prevent downtime in industrial facilities

When you’re operating a large-scale industrial facility the last thing your business needs is downtime. If something goes wrong in your operations it could cost you a significant amount of money, not only to fix the problem that is causing production to stop, but also the money you’ll lose from the process being down. In this article we’ll be exploring some of the key ways you can avoid downtime in your industrial facility, to help ensure your business continually runs efficiently and costly downtime is prevented.


Planned and unplanned downtime

Planned downtime is when a business schedules the shutdown of equipment or processes in order to perform maintenance or carry out repairs, inspections, or upgrades. Unlike unplanned downtime, planned downtime is essential at some stages of your operations to ensure it is properly checked and maintained. Even though planned downtime will slightly interrupt your industrial processes, ultimately, you’re still in control of it and planned downtime exists to prevent unplanned downtime.

Tips for preventing downtime in industrial facilities

Planned equipment and machinery maintenance is one of the main ways you can prevent unwanted downtime. Industrial operations put a lot of strain and high demand on equipment and without effective, regular maintenance, at some point during their lifespan they will breakdown. This will lead to unnecessary and frustrating downtime that could have potentially been avoided by ensuring the machinery is in optimal condition and its efficiency in the production process is maximised.

Preventative maintenance can be done during planned downtime or when operations are still running. Part replacements are often done during downtime to enable the right parts to be ordered and make sure that suitable personnel are present to perform the necessary work, therefore saving as much time and money as possible. When the processes are still running, the type of maintenance that can be performed includes adding or changing lubricating oils and cleaning various parts of the machinery to help increase their lifetime.

As well as having a planned maintenance schedule, downtime can also be prevented by making sure employees are fully trained on how to properly use equipment and machinery. If operators have a clear understanding and are confident in using the equipment, they are much less likely to make a mistake that causes production to stop, as well as being able to respond quicker in an emergency. Human error and workplace accidents are common causes of downtime, so by implementing a detailed and structured training programme for all employees, you can reduce the risk of a problem occurring and the resulting downtime.

Technology has developed significantly over the years and has allowed for systems to be adopted that benefit industrial facilities and help to avoid downtime. For example, there are systems available that can monitor production with visible process trends at operator stations providing a visual of how processes are running over time.

This makes it easier for any inconsistencies to be identified and addressed before the problem worsens and leads to downtime. Monitoring systems can even be used remotely that still enable real-time tracking of machine performance. Therefore, if there is a problem it can be responded to quickly, even from a distance.

This relates to human error and the advancements that have been made in technology over recent years. If it is possible to implement automated processes into your industrial facility, it could make a difference in minimising downtime. This is because your production process can be made more efficient by automating repetitive tasks that are more prone to human error. Additionally, it’ll give your workers more time to focus on profitable jobs and develop their training to take on advanced roles. As a result, you can generate higher profits for your business and demonstrate to your workers that they are valued.

Optimising energy use is really important across all industries and businesses to reduce the negative impact on the environment. This is also relevant to preventing downtime in industrial facilities because by using energy more effectively you can avoid overloading the systems and reduce the risk of system failures. Introduce energy efficient practices and technologies minimise stress on equipment and machinery where possible.


Hopefully this guide has helped provide a greater insight into how businesses with industrial facilities can ensure unplanned downtime is prevented. If you need any further support our production engineering consultants at FESS Group are industry experts with years of relevant experience in helping businesses make their production processes as efficient and cost effective as possible. Book a free site survey online to get started or contact us if you have any specific questions or want to learn more about how our services can benefit your industrial facility.

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