Reduce Downtime


The term downtime is used to refer to periods when a system is unavailable. Downtime or outage duration refers to a period of time that a system fails to provide or perform its primary function. Reliability, availability, recovery, and unavailability are related concepts. The unavailability is the proportion of a time-span that a system is unavailable or offline. This is usually a result of the system failing to function because of an unplanned event, or because of routine maintenance (a planned event).

How to avoid the costs of downtime

Whether you’re operating a factory or a power plant, everyone knows that the costs associated with downtime can be massive. Many people take this as an unavoidable aspect of the job, but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, some of the most common causes of downtime are entirely avoidable. Vortex Dry Ice Blasting can reduce your risk of downtime by intoducing affordable ongoing maintenance cleans. This will reduce build-up of contaminants that are known to cause many wear and tear issues with critical components such as bearings and in the example of power generation, carbon build up causes inefficiencies by enabling voltage drop through the carbon deposits.

Marine based businesses benefit in many areas. An example here is using Vortex to Dry Ice Blast hulls clear of marine growth which slows vessels and with increased hydo-resistance comes greater fuel bills. By keeping the hulls clean and clear ensures maximum operating  efficiency for each vessel.

Vortex is able to prepare surfaces for NDT inspection, in most circumstances much quicker than having to send components away to sandblasters and await its return. At Vortex we can blast at your location which can save days in turnaround times. We produce a true finish, unlike sandblasting which is very aggressive and peens the surface hiding cracks and fissures. Because the finish we produce is very clean and not peened this also enables the NDT inspections to take place more quickly, again saving time on turnaround scheduling.

The costs of downtime

A whitepaper has indicated that 59 percent of Fortune 500 companies experience a minimum of 1.6 hours of downtime per week. Based purely on this estimate, how much money was lost in this time. If you say that each company has 10,000 employees who are paid approximately $56 per hour including benefits, then just the cost associated with the loss of revenue through salary pay would amount to almost $896,000 per company each week. That adds up to over $46 million per year!

However, that estimate only accounts for wages paid during periods of downtime. There are many other costs associated with downtime other than just salary pay. We have identified a list of tangible costs of downtime: lost transaction revenue, lost wages, lost inventory, remedial labor costs, marketing costs, bank fees and legal penalties from not delivering on service level agreements. Of course, there are other potential areas of lost revenue that can affect companies when they have to shut down production. For instance, brand names could be compromised with bad publicity, and employee morale can suffer.

When critical assets breakdown, production comes to a complete halt. Even if it only takes an hour to repair essential equipment, the costs add up significantly over time. If you’re really curious to find out exactly how much money downtime can cost you, we have provided the following formulas for you to figure it out.

Labor cost = P x R x H


P = number of people affected

R = average employee cost per hour

H = number of hours of outage.

Lost revenue = (GR / TH) x I x H


GR = gross yearly revenue

TH = total yearly business hours

I = percentage impact

H = number of hours of downtime

Avoiding downtime

When you combine labour cost with lost revenue, the numbers can add up really quickly. Fortunately, we now offer asset reliability services that can help you maximize uptime and minimize losses associated with unplanned maintenance and repairs. There are many factors that can contribute to production shutdowns. Some of them are unavoidable, like natural disasters and extreme weather patterns that make it impossibly dangerous to run operations. No one would want to try to go to work during a hurricane, and there is nothing to be done in these situations but simply weather the storm. However, some causes of downtime are entirely avoidable, such as unplanned asset maintenance or repair.

Unfortunately, some asset reliability services rely almost exclusively on spreadsheets and big data to try to tell you when your assets need to be fixed. Big data can be informative, but when it comes to preventive maintenance and anticipatory repairs, it is most important to more closely inspect your specific assets. By employing Vortex to Dry Ice Blast your equipment and documenting the specific condition of each of its components, you can create a much more informed plan to repair and maintain each asset. Using that information, you can update or modify existing databases for maintenance, repairs, replacement and upgrades.

What the P-F (Potential to Failure) Interval Can Tell You

The smart money in machine reliability invests not only in frequent detection of faults and abnormal wear but also in frequent detection of root causes. Using the Pareto principle, you can concentrate efforts toward 20 percent of the root causes to gain 80 percent of the benefit. This is analogous to fixing the roof while the sun is shining. Correcting the cause of the leak is so much less expensive than correcting the damage caused by the leak (e.g., water damage to floors and furniture).

This concept is illustrated using the P-F interval in Figure 3. The proactive domain relates to vigilant monitoring and control of failure root causes (contamination, for instance). Corrections usually involve only minor adjustments (to remove the root cause) with no machine damage as shown in the root cause zone (A).

The onset of failure occurs at the beginning of the predictive domain. Ideally, it is detected early in the incipient failure zone (B). This requires high detection frequency and “pin-drop” detection technique (referring to condition monitoring techniques capable of detecting faint alarm signals). Once detected, the corrective action relates to root cause adjustments with only negligible machine damage.

The Dreaded Unscheduled Downtime Zone

Unscheduled downtime occurs in the precipitous failure zone (D). This is not early detection, and the damage is unforgiving. Certain types of failures produce runaway conditions. In such cases, the FDP is too short for detection (sudden death). For new machines, this is called infant mortality. The costs of these failures can be enormous due to business interruption, collateral damage (chain reaction failures), high repair bills and the potential for personal injury. Precipitous failure is the inverse of machine reliability.

Next is the post-mortem root cause analysis (RCA) zone (E). Use failure as a teacher to discover what went wrong and how to prevent its recurrence. Also, learn the incipient signs of failure so the condition monitoring program (frequency and technique) can be refined accordingly.