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Unplanned Downtime – the key disruptor to Industry

8 min read
Chris McMillen
Senior Product Manager

Unplanned downtime is a key negative contributor to any organization’s bottom line. By its very definition, no organization seeks unplanned downtime that can wreak havoc on production schedules, customer relationships, revenue goals, and worse. Yet, despite this reality being recognized, we still see it running unchecked through systems and production lines all over the world and across every industry. One recent study  found that:

  • 82% of companies have experienced at least one unplanned downtime over the past 3 years (with 2 outages being the average). 
  • $250k USD per hour and $2MUSD per event is the average unplanned downtime impact on companies. 
  • 70% of companies polled do not have a complete awareness of when equipment assets are due for maintenance or upgrades. 

Thus, not surprisingly, 

  • 72% of companies polled have zero unplanned downtime as the No. 1 priority. 

Despite the fact that unplanned downtime is a major concern for organizations, outdated and time-based maintenance strategies that are not effective at predicting or preventing machine failure are still being used. Furthermore, when unplanned downtime does occur, teams are responding reactively since there is minimal data available to understand the root cause of outages.

Rest assured though, condition monitoring strategies are here to combat and offset these daunting numbers. When reviewing your organization’s condition monitoring strategies, it is important to understand the entire impact associated with an unplanned downtime event. When one event averages $2 million - just in tangible losses, then the value of a proactive condition monitoring program becomes clear.

To evaluate current or future condition monitoring needs, the total impact must be considered when assessing your condition monitoring needs. This impact can be broken into three categories: 

  • Tangible costs:  lost revenue, regulatory penalties, lost productivity, and more.
  • Intangible costs:  brand damage, industry exclusions, legal ramifications, and more. 
  • Higher-order costs:  human safety, environmental impact, and more.
Components of Unplanned Downtime

Tangible losses are often the first type of loss organizations focus on. Lost revenue due to a production stoppage, regulatory penalties and fines, and the reactive extra labor, factory overhead, increased cost per unit, and equipment repair/ replacement costs typically runs two to five times higher than a proactive condition based maintenance and monitoring program.

Intangible losses are secondary costs such as negative brand image, customer experience, customer service and support, supply chain disruption, regulatory hurdles, and possible legal ramifications for the organization and potentially the executives within.

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Finally, there can be a degree of higher-order costs that include:

Human Safety - Possible injuries and/or death to personnel, public, and communities at large Environmental Impact - Emissions, leaks, and other catastrophic events that could lead to pollution, regulatory fines, reputation, and decades of litigation Facility Impact - The impact on equipment and plants could range from crippling to total loss, resulting in even more downtime and more losses associated with a single unplanned downtime event

So with the potential for huge and far-reaching costs tied to what has been identified as an event that is, on average, likely to happen to a given organization twice in a three year period, the search for a solution to these unplanned downtime events becomes less of an “it would be nice to have” and more of an outright necessity to the life of an organization.

A sound condition monitoring strategy starts with assessing your enterprise’s machinery assets and processes in totality.  As the saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” the best way to mitigate unplanned downtime events is in avoiding them altogether. And the best way to do that is through a plant-wide, proactive condition monitoring strategy.

It is important to think about countering unplanned downtime events on a planet-wide scale, to do otherwise would invite “blind spots” in coverage that can come back to “haunt” you down the road. A thorough audit of all of your machinery (and their support systems) will make sure that you are fully aware of all assets that need condition-based monitoring so you can have a proactive maintenance program.

You cannot recreate uncollected data after failure unless you monitor before failure occurs.

A comprehensive condition monitoring strategy brings technology and domain expertise together. From portable, walk around solutions, sensors and monitors, automated diagnostic software, to service and training; a plant-wide strategy employs the right combination to best meet company needs. Bently Nevada is here to support. In most cases, you’ll want this strategy to be as automated as possible. This brings a twofold benefit: lower overall costs and 24/7 monitoring. Employing a suite of sensors to monitor the various states and limits of your machinery will pay for themselves by bringing you real-time data, and a plant-wide view of the health of every critical asset you own.

Some sensors available from Bently Nevada which cover most aspects of machinery health are

Additionally, to harness the power of all these sensors, you’ll need a robust condition monitoring system that allows for real-time monitoring of assets across your entire enterprise. Systems like Bently Nevada’s Orbit 60 Series employ cutting-edge technology, highly customizable configurations, distributed architecture, and cyber-secure operations, will make the management of your entire fleet not only easier, but also more effective, and above all: proactive.

All of this data is useless if you aren’t actively leveraging it, as well as analyzing it for trends, anomalies, and alerts. You’ll also want it presented in a format that doesn’t require a data scientist at every location, through data displays that are easy to understand, intuitive, and shareable across your entire organization. Through the application of condition monitoring software like Bently Nevada’s System 1, you can unite data from across your entire enterprise, and assign values, custom alerts, custom rules, triggers, and events to those sensors that can alert you (or whoever you select) far ahead of a catastrophic failure giving you ample time in advance to make informed decisions.  By taking a plant-wide approach, you can develop a history of machine health that can be shared and applied to other assets as well as across multiple locations.  Finally, with tailored algorithms like Bently Nevada’s InsightPaks , you can create advanced algorithms for a specific machine or “system”, in a specific application, without having to write the code from scratch. This is one way to retain machine and plant knowledge with a shifting workforce and manage an ever-growing amount of data from connected machines.

Applying sensors, a condition monitoring system (from portables, wireless, distributed and rack systems), and advanced software will go a long way towards preventing unplanned downtime events from a machine-oriented point of view.

Another potential blind spot when it comes to preventing unplanned downtime events resides at the human level. One way to ensure that your labor pool is up to the task of condition monitoring on a plant-wide, proactive level is to augment them with training and “on-demand” remote support. Bently Nevada offers both through their Supporting Services Agreements. This highly configurable service is flexible to cover installation, operation, and data analysis for parts or the entire condition monitoring system, even including the option of hosted software.

condition monitoring Software Hosted Services

A hosted software solution, Bently HOST, runs the software remotely, thus removing the need for a deep IT infrastructure investment. It includes a Bently Nevada team of condition monitoring experts on call when needed to supplement your staff 24/7 to analyze your machinery data and offer you the world’s leading troubleshooting and supporting services. 

You can also access decades of industry experience for all of your technicians through any of our training programs, which can be conducted at a variety of field offices around the globe, at the location of your choice, or remotely.

Some of the support services offered are:   

  • Implementation Services - Help with getting your condition monitoring strategies off the ground
  • Proactive Support - From tech support and troubleshooting to fully managed support services
  • Remote Monitoring & Diagnostics - 24/7 real-time monitoring of all your critical assets
  • Bently HOST - Condition Monitoring SaaS solutions
  • Training & Education - Global expertise for an immediate upgrade to your existing labor pool

With so many automated, real-time, data-backed solutions available, and an industry average of USD $2M in losses per downtime event - it becomes clear that there is real value in adopting a proactive approach to machinery condition monitoring

You need a partner, not a product.  To discuss how Bently Nevada can help you minimize the occurrence and effect of unplanned downtime events, feel free to reach out to your sales representative or contact us directly and we will be happy to schedule a time to assess your plant-wide condition monitoring needs.

Predictive Maintenance

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Chris McMillen

Chris McMillen

Senior Product Manager

Bently Nevada Sensors


Chris is the Senior Product Line Manager for Bently Nevada sensors.  He is responsible for new developments and lifecycle management within the Bently Nevada sensor portfolio for both wired and wireless solutions.