What Is Equipment Downtime? Definition, Calculation, Reduction Strategies

What Is Equipment Downtime? Definition, Calculation, Reduction Strategies

Everyone involved in running a manufacturing or production facility knows that every minute is precious. The more quality goods you are able to produce in a given period of time, the better for the organisation’s bottom line and industry-wide reputation. All this depends on the machines you have at your plant.

When they operate smoothly, you’re producing at maximum capacity. On the other hand, when there’s a breakdown or malfunction, you’re looking at lost productivity due to halts in production. The latter cases are often referred to as running into the problem of equipment downtime. Every maintenance manager should focus on addressing this challenge and work on maximising machine uptime.

This article considers the equipment downtime definition, its common causes and how to calculate it. It also offers ways to reduce it and discusses why equipment downtime tracking is so beneficial. Let’s explore this in more detail below.


What Is Equipment Downtime? Definition, Calculation, Reduction Strategies

What Is Equipment Downtime?

Equipment downtime is a metric that looks at how much time a piece of equipment is not operational, either due to planned or unplanned maintenance and repairs.

In the case of planned downtime, this is the amount of time that a machine is down for as part of a broader organisational strategy that factors in this downtime in a predetermined, calculated way.

As for unplanned downtime, this is a situation of unplanned equipment failure, such as a fault or a broken part that was not predicted and taken care of in time. However, in the industry, equipment downtime usually refers to unplanned downtime. 

Overall, the equipment downtime cost can be a significant challenge for organisations because it can lead to production losses or delays that have costly negative financial ramifications.

Common Causes of Equipment Downtime


So, what are some of the most common causes of equipment downtime? While there may be other reasons, those listed below are the most frequently encountered ones:

  • Poor maintenance
  • Mechanical failures
  • Electrical faults
  • Equipment overuse or misuse
  • Lack of spare parts
  • Human error

What is important to note is that each of these causes can be addressed when maintenance managers and maintenance technicians take the right preventative or precautionary steps. In manufacturing and production facilities, this is referred to as carrying out a preventive maintenance service.

Equipment Downtime Calculation

One of the best ways to reduce unplanned downtime is to measure specific equipment downtime metrics. In particular, the equipment downtime formula, expressed as a percentage, is as follows:

Time equipment is down/Total planned operating time x 100 = Downtime percentage

This equipment downtime calculation can be illustrated using an example. Say that a production plant has a total planned operating time of 160 hours in a month (8 hours x 20 working days). Furthermore, let’s say that a piece of equipment is down for 4 hours during those 160 hours. We would take these 4 hours, divide them by 160, multiply the total by 100 and get the result of 2.5% of equipment downtime. In general, the industry standard is to keep the equipment downtime percentage at 10% or less.


How to Reduce Equipment Downtime

Many organisations involved in manufacturing and production still use corrective maintenance as a strategy to deal with machine failures or breakdowns. However, it is highly advisable to aim to reduce equipment downtime with proactive approaches. Below are a few strategies to help you keep it to an absolute minimum.

  • Utilising a CMMS for downtime tracking: A computerised maintenance management system (CMMS) is a type of intelligent software that can help you track equipment downtime. With an easy-to-navigate dashboard and user interface, maintenance managers can immediately see which assets did not perform as planned and take proactive steps to implement preventive maintenance and repair work before the asset malfunctions. Doing this can increase the lifespan of your machinery. Meanwhile, the right CMMS can also perform a number of other tasks, such as work order management, spare parts and inventory management, preventive maintenance management and a lot more.
  • Implementing preventive and predictive maintenance: Another strategy that will help you minimise downtime is to reduce downtime with preventive equipment maintenance. The latter refers to all proactive maintenance steps that are taken to keep equipment failures to a minimum. Whether it’s regular lubrication, cleaning of the equipment or work area, a bulb replacement or a timely spare part replacement, it’s possible to keep your machines running for longer periods of time when you take good care of them in the interim.
  • Investing in sensor equipment for condition-based maintenance: Implementing a PLC system control and IoT devices is an automated and remote way of managing the assets under your control. You can gain immediate insights into any potential or actual equipment failures automatically sent to you through notifications when an IoT sensor reading reaches a certain level. This means that you can better manage your condition-based maintenance activities.
  • Documenting maintenance processes: Having the right paper trail that is digitised is another important strategy to follow. When you document your maintenance processes, you make it easier for the next technician to pick up where the previous one left off. When there is a streamlined approach to maintenance activities, there are no or limited interruptions to production processes. All this results in less equipment downtime and better operations.
  • Establishing a maintenance culture: While this approach takes time, it is an essential ingredient in reducing equipment downtime. Ensuring that every member of your team is on board and the same page regarding the need to carry out preventive maintenance will go a long way towards ensuring that the machines under your care are operating optimally.
  • Setting up failure codes: Furthermore, you may consider setting up failure codes, which are codes that indicate a certain error with the machine and why it is not working as it should. Error codes like these can help maintenance managers better manage their assets and gain greater insights into what the potential cause of the failure is. This way, they can take proactive and appropriate action to reduce equipment malfunctions.
  • Conducting regular inspections: Regular inspections may seem unnecessary, but they are essential in identifying any root causes of a larger problem that may arise in the future. By keeping a careful eye on potential problems, you can take steps to address them before they become bigger issues.
  • Carrying out planned downtime for maintenance: Lastly, it is important to carry out planned downtime for maintenance. This means scheduling a period of downtime for maintenance to take place in a predetermined way. By planning downtime, you can stop essential machines without costing the organisation important losses in time, resources, labour capacity, money and production.

Benefits of Equipment Downtime Tracking

Your organisation will greatly benefit from all efforts that aim to increase and decrease the uptime and downtime of equipment, respectively. That is because tracking and managing equipment downtime comes with several important advantages. Some of these are discussed in more detail below.

  • Improved machine uptime, efficiency and reliability: Machines that are well taken care of are more efficient and reliable. When they operate at optimum capacity, you can enjoy increased machine uptime, meaning fewer breakdowns and lower losses in production.
  • Improved equipment lifespan: In addition, well-functioning machines tend to run for longer periods of time. You can get the most out of your investment in a given machine when you are able to use it for its intended lifespan.
  • Enhanced insight into replacement and repair priorities: Tracking equipment downtime also gives you insights into which repairs are priorities. You can also track the machines to which most of your replacement parts are being allocated for enhanced decision-making purposes into which of your machinery is more problematic than others and requires greater attention and preventative maintenance.
  • Accurate implementation of corrective maintenance tasks: Corrective maintenance tasks will be streamlined if you have more information about which machines are the cause of production halts. When you clearly identify the problematic machine, you can take corrective action to reduce future malfunctions.
  • Lower maintenance costs and increased profit: Well-operating machines ensure that production processes operate efficiently and optimally. Furthermore, when there are fewer breakdowns and less downtime, improved production means more revenue for the organisation, which increases its levels of profitability.

Increased productivity: Finally, less equipment downtime means increased productivity. Tracking this metric means taking proactive measures to avoid costly periods of non-production, meaning your business can run smoothly.


Equipment downtime analysis is an essential part of being prepared and taking preventive and proactive maintenance steps for optimal equipment performance.

To help facilitate a smooth and long-lasting process that contributes to organisational success, we recommend that you follow a CMMS implementation plan.

It digitises your downtime analysis processes. With Fabrico’s CMMS at your side, you’ll experience a world of business benefits that enable your organisation to compete more effectively in your niche.


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