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Downtime Disaster:
Why Every Manufacturer Needs a Proactive Maintenance Strategy

In today’s fiercely competitive manufacturing landscape, every second counts. Unplanned downtime – those unexpected interruptions that halt production lines and throw a wrench (pun intended) into operations – is a silent threat that can erode productivity, damage customer satisfaction, and eat away at profits.

The High Cost of Downtime

A staggering statistic from Deloitte [1] reveals that unplanned downtime costs industrial manufacturers a whopping $50 billion annually. That’s right, billions lost due to equipment failures, power outages, and other unforeseen events.  This translates to production delays, missed deadlines, and ultimately, unhappy customers.

The Reality of Unplanned Downtime: It’s Not a Maybe, It’s a When

To think unplanned downtime is a rare occurrence, something that only happens to “other” companies, to which reality can be far less comforting. According to a BusinessWire press release citing new research [2], 82% of companies have experienced at least one unplanned downtime incident in the past three years. This means the odds are overwhelmingly stacked– it’s not a matter of if downtime will strike, but when.

The Root Cause: Human Error and Inefficient Maintenance

While unforeseen circumstances like natural disasters can contribute to downtime, the most common culprit is often surprisingly human. Research shows that human error is the most frequent cause of unplanned downtime in the manufacturing sector, exceeding all other factors [2]. This highlights the critical role of proper maintenance procedures and training in preventing downtime.

Here’s where things get interesting – despite the significant financial burden downtime presents, a significant portion of companies (42.5% in the US alone) allocate only 21-40% of their operating budget to cleaning and maintaining equipment  [3]. This reactive approach, often characterized by a “run-to-failure” mentality, ultimately results in more frequent and costly breakdowns.

The Power of Proactive Maintenance: Weapon Against Downtime

The good news is that unplanned downtime isn’t an inevitable fate. By embracing a proactive approach to maintenance, manufacturers can significantly reduce the risk of disruptions and unlock a host of benefits [4]. Here’s how:

  • Reduced Downtime: Regular equipment inspections, preventive maintenance practices, and a focus on early problem detection can nip equipment failures in the bud before they escalate into full-blown breakdowns. This translates to fewer disruptions and more continuous operation.
  • Enhanced Safety: Proper maintenance not only protects equipment but also safeguards the workforce. By addressing potential safety hazards before they cause accidents, proactive maintenance fosters a safer working environment for everyone.
  • Improved Performance: Well-maintained equipment runs more efficiently, leading to increased production capacity and throughput. This, in turn, translates to faster delivery times and better customer satisfaction.
  • Reduced Costs: While proactive maintenance might initially seem like an added expense, it pales in comparison to the cost of unplanned downtime. By preventing breakdowns, save money on repairs, replacements, and lost production time.

Unplanned downtime is a silent threat that can cripple manufacturing operations. By prioritizing a proactive approach to maintenance, helps minimize disruptions, improve efficiency, and ensure production lines keep humming. Remember, a well-maintained facility is a future-proof facility, one that allows stay ahead of the competition. 


  1. Unplanned downtime costs industrial manufacturers as much as $50 billion a year https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/us/Documents/process-and-operations/us-cons-predictive-maintenance.pdf
  2. 82% of companies have experienced at least one unplanned downtime incident https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20171106006370/en/Human-Error-is-More-Common-Cause-of-Unplanned-Downtime-in-Manufacturing-Than-Any-Other-Sector-According-to-New-Research
  3. In 2021, 42.5% of companies in the US spent 21-40% of their operating budget on cleaning and maintenance equipment/supplies. https://www.statista.com/statistics/799977/share-of-operating-budget-spent-on-cleaning-or-maintenance-equipment-and-supplies/
  4. Inefficient Maintenance A Big Contributor To Unplanned Downtime. Unplanned downtime in manufacturing is one of the largest causes of lost productivity, causing delays, unhappy customers and lost revenue. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2021/02/26/manufacturing-without-unplanned-downtime-could-become-a-reality-sooner-than-you-think/?sh=57192bb970d1 
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