Reducing Downtime: 5 ways to minimize equipment breakdowns

January 25, 2019  •  Alayna Giesting

Downtime is often one of the hardest parts of a Facility Manager’s job and can lead to headache after headache. One day your maintenance truck might not start, and the next your boiler stops working. But that doesn’t have to be the case. With a little upfront work on your end, you can reduce those equipment failures and ensure your assets are running smoothly.

5 tips for reducing downtimeConstruction Bot

1. Perform a facility audit 

Audit: a big, scary word that no one ever wants to hear. But, in the case of equipment downtime, it’s something you will want to undertake as soon as possible.

One of the main reasons this is so important is because an audit will point out equipment obsolescence. Say you have an HVAC system in one of your buildings that’s 25 years old. Not only is it at high risk for failure, but it’s also going to take much longer to repair. This is because the manufacturer may no longer support your older HVAC, which will make it difficult to obtain the part you need. This HVAC system would be considered obsolete. Ideally, you would want to replace it, because in the long run it’s going to cost you more time and money to repair it.

2. Look at the data

Determining why equipment is failing is crucial in its prevention. For instance, knowing that your air-handling unit (AHU) in building four has been down for two weeks is not much help when it comes to preventing this type of failure in the future. Instead, you should figure out why that equipment item failed, predict the next time that it might fail, and put a plan in place to stop it (or at least prepare for it).

In order to do this though, you need data! And the best way to obtain accurate data is to have a central place for your team to track every time they service an equipment item, order a part, notice an underperforming asset, or do anything else related to a piece of equipment. Once you have enough data in place, you can begin to notice trends and make predictions about that asset’s performance. 

How FMX can help: When your team performs maintenance on an equipment item, they can report all the details, such as steps taken or parts used, in FMX. This will act as a one-stop-shop for everything equipment related. Reporting a failed asset in FMX is just as easy. As soon as you notice an issue, you can scan the QR code on that piece of equipment, which will pull it up in FMX. You can then input all the necessary requirements, and even include pictures, to ensure the issue is fully detailed. FMX even calculates mean time between failure (MTBF) for you based on how frequently a machine is down. With this feature, FMX will alert you when it is likely to breakdown again.  

3. Set up a preventive maintenance plan for all equipment

While I may sound like a broken record, I’m going to say it again: performing preventive maintenance will minimize costs, save you time, and reduce out-of-the-blue breakdowns. If you can catch issues before they lead to complications or failure, you can proactively order parts and fix a piece of equipment while it’s not being used. By doing this, you’ve avoided priority-shipping expenses, overtime compensation for your employees, and a drop in production.

How FMX can help: FMX can help take the hard work out of preventive maintenance by helping you plan tasks days, weeks, months, or years in advance. FMX allows you to create step-by-step instruction sets, eliminating any confusion your team might have when it comes to inspecting your equipment. When a PM task is closed out, you can have your team include the labor hours and parts used, which will automatically populate in your equipment module. You can then see a running total for labor and inventory costs for that asset.

 4. Properly train your team

Not all errors can be blamed on the age (or condition) of equipment. Sometimes, the people handling the equipment can cause errors, too. As a Facility Manager, it’s your job to ensure all employees are properly trained so that they make as few errors as possible when working on, and with, equipment. 

To start, make sure you are pointing out helpful tips to improve your employees’ results and sharing best practices with the entire team. This will help boost morale while also giving them areas for improvement.

The second initiative you should consider is cross-training your employees. If there is only one person who knows how to get the AHU up and running and they’re out for the day, you are in big trouble. So, make sure every employee is comfortable performing maintenance on each piece of equipment, which will ensure each asset can always be fixed.

5. Calculate downtime expense

You may not know just how much money you are losing in downtime expenses, and the answer may shock you. On average, manufacturers experience 800 hours of downtime per year, which is a little over two hours each day. While two hours a day may not seem like much (especially if it’s allocated over several pieces of equipment), it can still add up very quickly. 

When you calculate the amount of money you are losing on a regular (weekly, monthly, yearly) basis, there are several factors to measure. These include: loss in production of goods, labor hours (and sometimes overtime) to fix the issue, costs of parts and shipping, and the opportunity cost of other things your team could be working on.

Knowing how much money downtime costs your organization can be a big eye opener to you, and can also help justify some of your future preventive plans to upper management.

 

Managing equipment downtime doesn’t have to cost you your sanity. In fact, with the help of a Computerized Maintenance Management System, you can use data from these equipment failures to help justify more staff and better assets. See how easy it is in FMX, and start a free trial! 

For more information on downtime and equipment tracking, click here.  


FMX-headshot-300x300Alayna is the Content Marketing Specialist at Facilities Management eXpress. When she’s not drafting up content for the blog or social media, she is most likely traveling the world or trying new foods in Columbus! 

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