How to minimize the impact of a stopped production line

August 13, 2020

An unscheduled production stoppage can have a disastrous impact on cost increase; on the health, safety, and motivation of the work environment; on the ability to deliver the product to the customer within the agreed-upon deadline; on the drop in productivity; on the drop in the profitability of the business, among others.

The cost increase with unscheduled downtime comes in the form of wasted hours, overtime to perform the repair, emergency repair costs with labor, parts acquisition and logistics, opportunity cost to be able to tender to other customers, etc., etc.

Unscheduled downtime, according to a survey of the American industry, shows three main categories of reasons as its cause:

  • Human error.
  • Equipment failure.
  • Process failure.

Obviously, not all causes of unscheduled downtime are related to maintenance activities.

Here, however, we will discuss some preventive actions that are within the scope of maintenance to reduce these stoppages as much as possible.


If human error is the most frequent reason for unscheduled production stoppages, it shows how important it is to pay attention to the training of this team. Don’t you agree?

In the text, “How to build high performance maintenance teams” it’s possible to find some of the aspects that draw attention to the formation of maintenance teams.

The description of maintenance procedures, should not be a written and abandoned document, but something that is followed and revised with practices over time.

One reason for it is the continuous learning from failure analysis and, when indicated, the identification of its root cause.

Another reason is: how can you train a team if there is no standard process, no work routine to be followed?


FMEA – failure mode and effects analysis. Failures will occur routinely and continuously.

They range from minor faults to equipment breakdown or even accidents and work incidents.

There is no work plan that can foresee such a variety of events.

The maintenance procedures must foresee how to deal with each situation, who will the people involved be, and, at each new event, update the procedure aiming at the continuous improvement of the process.

It is essential to keep track of all failures and their corrections, preferably in a computerized maintenance management system, where work orders, backlogs, criticality, and the entire asset management can be tracked.

The benefit of identifying and analyzing failures is to discover their root cause and eliminate them.

Root cause failure analysis is always a learning opportunity for the entire maintenance team.

However, the criteria must be established, with triggers that require the root cause analysis to be performed, because not just any situation will merit this debugged analysis.

As examples of triggers, one can define, safety incidents, environmental incidents, loss of sales, the cost of failure, relevant customer complaint, and frequency of events throughout the year.

The usual candidates for root cause analysis are the most critical or costly equipment failures.

Triggers should be reviewed and updated on an ongoing basis, since using root cause analysis of the failure should produce only a few of these events during the month.

The suggestion is for a monthly event, per facilitator or team leader.


There is no “cake recipe” for the ideal maintenance plan.

What is true is that the planning, execution, and follow-up of maintenance practices is something that is in the control of the organization and plays an important role in business results.

Reliability-based maintenance has been used for:

  • Reduce costs;
  • Reduce emergency repairs and allocate staff time to proactive maintenance;
  • Minimize unscheduled downtime;
  • Increase production and product quality;
  • Increase profitability.

Implementing a reliability-based maintenance strategy is detailed work that requires planning and commitment, as well as time. Among the items in this strategy are:

  • The team to conduct the process;
  • Establish metrics and benchmarks for them;
  • Compliance with the preventive maintenance plan;
  • The root cause analysis of failure for critical machines or major problems;
  • The recording of all data and information in an electronic system;
  • Initiating a predictive maintenance program.

Creating a culture of problem solving, failure cause analysis, recording events, and comparing them to established benchmarks will require continuous team monitoring and training. It is a process that never stops.

Predictive maintenance comes in with the use of machinery condition monitoring technologies to prevent the early replacement of parts and to ensure the highest possible availability of the machinery.

Get to know the solution and decrease the risks of unplanned downtime in your industry.

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