The Cost of Machinery Downtime
The mining and construction industry heavily relies on machinery to operate. And yet machinery downtime is an unavoidable part of the operation, whether it’s planned (scheduled inspection and preventive maintenance) or unplanned (equipment failure or faulty/broken components). When these machineries undergo downtime, they can cost a company a lot of money. On average, around 80% of companies experience unexpected downtime and has an average cost of $260K per hour, and the average duration can amount to $1.04 Million. However, downtimes can cost a company more than just money.
Unplanned Downtime. For one, downtime due to machinery breakdown can derail a construction schedule or a mine’s production quota, which can have legal repercussions and may also affect a company’s reputation when it comes to prompt delivery. These unexpected breakdowns can also endanger the site and everyone in it, resulting in damage to assets and even injuries (or worse).
Scheduled Downtimes. Planned downtimes (for maintenance and parts replacement) can have a relatively less impact as it’s oftentimes accounted for when it comes to production timelines. Yet, it can still result in lower productivity and also increase the risk of an equipment breakdown — the more often you open machinery to inspect and maintain it, the higher the risk of something going wrong such as failing to properly install parts, or forgetting certain steps in the maintenance process.
As such, it’s only prudent for companies in the mining and construction industries to take note of these simple tips to prevent downtime (both planned and unplanned):
#1 Investing in High-Quality Machinery and Parts
Average or even subpar-quality machinery has very enticing price tags, but whatever amount of money your company saves in buying them won’t be enough to cover the price of lower productivity and safety and the overall impact and cost of more frequent downtimes.
As such, it would be best for mining and construction companies to go for high-quality machinery and parts since they generally perform much better, have better productivity and safety features, are less likely to suffer from unexpected breakdown, require less frequent maintenance, and simply lasts longer (extended equipment life and ROI).
The same goes for any replacement or usable parts such as drill bits — choose diamond core bits that perform a lot better and don’t easily wear out as much as regular ones, resulting in fewer bit changes.
#2 Follow the User’s Manual
Your machinery’s user manual contains everything you need to know to operate and maintain it properly. Your machinery operators should be well-trained and well-acquainted with the manual to minimize human error that can result in machinery failure or even accidents, and also allows them to quickly detect and even troubleshoot any problems that may arise during its operation. Additionally, the user manual generally provides the recommended duration when using the machinery, which should be followed to prevent it from overheating and/or premature wear and tear. Lastly, you should follow the maintenance routine outlined in the manual to avoid doing ‘too much’ or ‘too less’ preventive maintenance.
#3 Have Backup and Contingency Plans
As we’ve mentioned earlier, downtime is unavoidable. However, that doesn’t mean that your operations should come to a halt, as well. When it comes to both planned and unplanned downtimes, make sure that you either have another piece of machinery in place to serve as a backup to continue as scheduled (or at least have the parts or suppliers’/repairmen’s contact information ready). As for planned downtimes, make sure that you focus your manpower on other tasks while the machinery is down so you can still be productive while your machinery undergoes maintenance.
Machinery downtime is inevitable, but you can reduce its frequency or at least its impact in your mining or construction company’s operations by following the tips above. Only then would you be able to maintain productivity, keep up with your schedules, and lower the risk of breakdowns and even machinery-breakdown-related accidents.