As a plant operator, lead facilities technician, or other professional managing the logistics of daily operations and maintenance, there’s no shortage of tasks to occupy your time. When unplanned downtime occurs due to emergencies like equipment failure, you may find yourself facing even more demand as you scramble to get operations back up and running. What about scheduled downtime, or extensive, unplanned downtime? When you find yourself suddenly and inexplicably enjoying a breather, should you rest on your laurels and thank your lucky stars, or should you find something to do?
If you’re a seasoned industry veteran, you know that an unanticipated surplus of free time gives you the opportunity to catch up - and maybe even get ahead - but organizing tasks to take advantage of extra time isn’t always easy. What can you do to make the most of your free time, whether you’ve got a few extra hours during scheduled maintenance or you have days or weeks of downtime ahead of you?
Catch Up On Deferred Maintenance
If you’re experiencing downtime anyway, you might as well use it to make sure all of your equipment is up to snuff. If you’ve scheduled downtime for maintenance, why not plan for other equipment inspection, cleaning, and repair at the same time? This approach can help to improve efficiencies across the board and prevent unwanted and unplanned downtime due to failures later on.
Perform Needed Repairs or Upgrades
Ideally, you’ll want to perform equipment repairs as soon as you discover problems like waning efficiency, worn parts, minor leaks, and so on. Unfortunately, you simply may not have the time or budget available to act on this information at the time.
You can’t push off needed repairs for too long, though, or you’ll find yourself dealing with emergency shut-down scenarios when major failures occur. A good solution is to wait for scheduled downtime and plan to perform any needed repairs simultaneously, or use unscheduled downtime to address any minor repair projects that have been piling up.
You could also use scheduled or unplanned downtime as a window of opportunity to implement upgrades that have been planned that you simply haven’t had time to conduct. Making the most of your downtime means doing all you can to offset the losses associated with impacted operations by taking steps to improve efficiencies, performance, and productivity when you’re back online.
Engage in Ongoing Education
If you’re facing substantial downtime and you’ve checked everything off your list when it comes to maintenance, repairs, and upgrades, there’s no need to resort to busywork. Education is one of the best ways to make the most of free time.
You can not only work on further educating yourself about industry advances, but you can offer training to team members like junior technicians that don’t yet have your knowledge and skills. By improving the skills of team members, you offer mentorship that makes them better at their jobs - and you also ensure that you have backup if you ever get sick or need a vacation.
Work on Life Cycle Planning and Efficiency Strategies
Your average workday may be so filled with so many pressing tasks that you simply don’t have time to engage in activities that address future needs. Rather than waiting for failures or other emergency scenarios to arise, use downtime to work with designers and engineers on planning for the future needs of your operation, including equipment upgrades, technological improvements, scalability, and so on. You might also want to set up a schedule for regular maintenance or hammer out disaster recovery plans, if these measures aren’t already in place, and consider auditing processes to eliminate waste and increase efficiency.
If you need help with your maintenance, to avoid downtime or minimize it, we’ve got you covered. See what the experts at Tate Engineering can do to help with preventative maintenance at your facility.