How To Prevent Unplanned Outages

Published May 9, 2022

unplanned outages

Downtime — it costs tons of money and reduces productivity, whether it is planned or unplanned. That being said, planned downtime for scheduled maintenance is quick and controlled, whereas unplanned outages can cause even more of a headache and stress. When unplanned outages strike, they can:

  • Really kill your profits
  • Cause production to grind to a screeching halt
  • Rack up repair costs
  • Necessitate wage payments without any work actually being done
  • Waste materials
  • Waste manpower
  • Cause missed deadlines and delays
  • Frustrate your own clients and damage trust and working relations
  • Lead to loss of business
  • Require a lot of work and expenses to start back up

In short, nobody enjoys the chaos of an unplanned outage. Thankfully, the risk of unplanned outages can be minimized by making a few mechanical or procedural changes and planning ahead. Some changes can also reduce the total periods of inactivity when outages do occur.

Common Causes of Outages – And Their Fixes

Knowing the common causes of unplanned outages means that you can efficiently prepare for the right fixes, which will either speed up your start-up or reduce the amount of downtime in general. In essence, expecting the unexpected can really help to manage sticky situations and kickstart operations as soon as possible.

Equipment Malfunctions

Number one on the list is equipment failures, or breakdowns. When there are so many parts involved with a manufacturing or other industrial process, one part that fails is enough to bring everything to an abrupt stop. Machines may stop working because of clogs and jams, wear and tear and similar. Parts wear out with age and use, with some consumable parts needing replacement more than others and some parts of equipment more prone to damage than others.

Equipment may also fail because of misuse and human damage, whether deliberate or accidental. Human error (detailed more below) can be a huge contributing factor to mechanical malfunctions.

Many people involved in repairs know that valves are a common issue leading to breakdowns. Some may choose to replace these valves more frequently as a solution, but while it does reduce the risk of outage, that tactic costs a lot of money in the long run.

Equipment malfunctions can be reduced by choosing quality equipment and parts in the first instance. For example, look for items that have longer guarantee periods and a good performance track record. Maintaining and cleaning equipment in the recommended way, at the recommended time and using recommended products can also help to prevent unforeseen equipment failure. For example, parts that need regular oiling should be oiled on schedule.

Workers should be adequately trained on how to operate machinery to prevent breakages and damages. Furthermore, staff members should only be allowed to operate machinery after a senior staff member is confident that they fully understand relevant processes and procedures.

Cleaning and Maintenance

Cleaning and maintenance are also problematic at times, when a machine part needs to be cleaned or maintained as soon as possible and cannot wait for a scheduled outage. When these actions aren’t performed well (as they may be in the rush of an unplanned outage) the problem compounds. Cleaning and maintenance needs may have been miscalculated, delayed or prompted by some other unforeseen event, such as misuse, a spillage, or similar.

Scheduling routine cleaning and maintenance works during quieter periods of operation can go a long way towards reducing unplanned outages. You can better manage your operations when outages are expected than when they are not. This goes for meeting production deadlines, having fewer staff on-site, minimizing wasted power, time and costs and managing client expectations.

Staffing Issues

Unplanned outages may also occur due to staffing issues. If you do not have an operator, you cannot run your operations, which means downtime is imminent. This kind of outage can often be prevented with careful staffing choices, and a contingency plan for if and when someone is sick or otherwise unable to come to work. You may consider, for example, cross-training staff members so as to be proficient in operating various pieces of equipment to allow for easier cover, and implementing a stand-by roster to ensure someone can always be available at short notice.

Changeovers between staff, and personal breaks that are not arranged wisely can also cause short outages, if things are not moving quickly and seamlessly. Find ways to make processes more efficient. Operator errors, too, can jam the system. Again, this is a staffing issue that needs to be addressed with careful planning, training, and processes in place.

Outside Factors

External factors can create issues with outages; these largely cannot be controlled. For example, power outages, water shortages, fires and natural disasters, such as floods, hurricanes and storms, will most certainly create problems for plants.

While you may be able to put some contingency plans in place, such as having a power backup, this is the kind of outage that is hard to plan for. In these cases, it is largely about mitigating losses and getting up and running as quickly as possible as opposed to preventative measures.

Non-Compliance

Many industries are governed by strict rules and regulations. Production facilities may be inspected at any time to ensure compliance. If a facility is found to be non-compliant, they may need to pause operations until such time they are re-assessed and found to be in compliance. As an aside, non-compliance can also lead to costly fines and other punitive measures.

The simple way to avoid possible unplanned outages in this case is to make sure all of your operations are compliant with relevant rules.

Other ways to reduce unplanned outages can include:

  • Ensuring safe working conditions
  • Having tighter monitoring systems in place
  • Identifying common causes of outages and finding solutions
  • Shift from a reactive mindset to a proactive one

How Everlasting Valves Can Help to Minimize Unplanned Outages

We cannot train your staff for you, nor can we assure that you will never face a power supply shortage, but we can help with a lot of the common causes of unplanned outages, well in advance so that your business is taking a proactive approach.

Given that equipment failures and breakdowns are a leading cause of outages, it simply makes sense to invest in parts that are designed to last. Sure, you can keep spending money on replacement valves, but that adds to your overall costs and does not help with outages, as you have to shut down parts of your facility to install the replacements.

With Everlasting Valves, you can get ahead of the equipment failures and rest assured that you will not be dealing with the ongoing expenses and frustrations of replacement valves. That is because our unique valves are truly designed for durability over the long term, as the toughest, longest lasting, best performing valve available.

The unique self-lapping, rotating disk action of Everlasting Valves ensures that, as your machines rely on these valves, the valves actually improve over time, polishing themselves and getting a tighter and stronger seal as time goes on. Our valves don’t wear out, they wear in. That solves the number one issue with unplanned outages, which may in fact give you more time and energy to hone in on other causes of outages.

The self-cleaning nature of Everlasting Valves also solves the problem of downtime owing to maintenance and cleaning. Yes, you still have to properly clean and maintain the rest of your equipment, but you can cross valves off your list, which makes the outage shorter.

You can rely on Everlasting Valves to supply your business with all of the valves you need, whether it is one of our stock options, or a custom-built valve for your business alone. We build all of our valves from design through to manufacturing, so you can count on us to provide your company with what you need, even if other manufacturers say it cannot be done.

We’re here to help you cut down on outages — both planned and unplanned — with the years of experience and carefully developed skills and industry knowledge that keep our clients happy. Connect with us today to learn more about how Everlasting Valves can help your business thrive.

Back to News