The thought of unplanned downtime can elicit major stress for plant maintenance managers. It’s a recurring topic of discussion in manufacturing production scheduling meetings. While some staff may believe a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) will eliminate downtime, that’s not always the case. Read on to learn who should be held accountable for downtime.

The following excerpt originally appeared on, and is authored by DPSI professional services consultant Robert Brieck.

“Although the term ‘downtime’ is frequently used in the manufacturing industry, it can be defined in various ways. Below are two specific examples, which we’ll refer to as ‘downtime 1’ and ‘downtime 2’ throughout the remainder of this article.

  • Downtime 1: Time during which production is stopped especially during setup for an operation or when making repairs. Source: Merriam-Webster
  • Downtime 2: The period of time something, such as a factory or a piece of machinery, is not in operation, especially as the result of a malfunction. Source: American Heritage Dictionary

Standard practice involves documenting the reason downtime occurs, along with specific times, in asset history. While downtime 1 issues are addressed and resolved in this manner, many organizations neglect addressing downtime 2 efficiently.

Manufacturing facilities exist in order to create specific products and it’s the job of maintenance departments within those facilities to ensure successful production capacity. This is accomplished by providing well-maintained, usable and reliable assets that operate efficiently. Although downtime 2 is often attributed to maintenance, it’s the responsibility of the facility as a whole to address the issue as it relates to impacting profitability.

Downtime Tracking

Work orders typically provide an opportunity to record downtime in minutes, hours or days. In many cases, however, these opportunities only allow one entry. Downtime could be the result of two or more departments or individuals. To ensure downtime 1 is sufficiently addressed, CMMS programs should allow for multiple entries of problems, causes and remedies on one work order. Likewise, CMMS programs can accommodate multiple causes for downtime 2.” …

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