Is your organisation suffering from endless breakdowns? Tired and overworked crews? Low morale? Low productivity? Not making targets? Ongoing inconsistent delivery on targets? If yes, then read on.

I have often been exposed to maintenance organisations or departments that are in breakdown loops. It becomes a ‘tongue in cheek’ comment that it is not if there will be a breakdown today, but when

The spiral

Typically: as your breakdowns increase, your preventative maintenance initially still gets done. Then, gradually, as your team runs out of hours to cover the breakdowns and preventative work, the latter suffers.

When breakdowns increase, run time decrease, production decrease and ultimately profit decrease.

Once profit starts decreasing, maintenance spending, specifically overtime, is often the first area to be overhauled and cut. But with ongoing breakdowns the only work that is not done, is your preventative maintenance, as the plant needs to be back up and running asap. And the loop becomes a speedy downward spiral.

Can the cycle be broken?

There is no silver bullet, no one time solution and no quick fix. Breaking the cycle do not have to cost a fortune, but it will cost discipline.

To be able to break the cycle, you as the leader, must pick up and maintain the discipline reigns. Think like a diary – plan, schedule and stick to your appointments. If you falter between the new (planned) and the old (breakdown after breakdown) way, you will not change the outcome. The old way will always win. Trust me!

How to set up to break the cycle?

Start by dividing your team into two. You will have your breakdown crew – the guys who will be fighting fire after fire. And you will have your preventative maintenance crew – the guys that will focus on ensuring the plant keeps running (in between the breakdowns).

These two teams can not be mixed, and should not be the same. (For variation in work, you can swap or rotate members on a weekly basis). The only exception to this is during PLANNED maintenance outages. Then both crews can work together to complete the planned work.

Breaking the cycle

As I said, it will take discipline.

If you have a planned maintenance outage on Wednesday, and the plant breaks down on Tuesday. What do you do?

Do you pull the shutdown forward and do as much of the work as possible during the breakdown? Or do you fix the breakdown, and go down the next day for your planned shutdown? 

There is no right or wrong answer. There is however a suitable answer for your plant. If you are fighting to get out of the downward spiral, you must ONLY fix the breakdown and do some other reactive work (only utilizing your breakdown crew) and then stop the next day for your planned outage. Why? 

Discipline, discipline, discipline.

Else all your planned outages will become extended work during breakdowns. And your teams will never have trust in the phrase ‘planned outage’.

When you operate as a well matured maintenance organisation, your planned outage can be moved, without it impacting your team’s morale or their identity as a planned maintenance organisation.

If you are serious about breaking the cycle, you must maintain the discipline. All planned outages must happen as scheduled in order to move your organisation from a reactive to a proactive maintenance outfit.

How long will this take?

If you are serious and well disciplined, you can break the cycle within 3 to 6 months. This however will depend on your preventative maintenance schedules, and how well your CMMS is set up.

If you need help to assess your current situation, or to set up the right processes to break this cycle, give Asset Optimisation a call. Breaking the cycle is not impossible. 


For a conversation on how we can assist you,

please contact us

DERICK MARTINS  - Specialist Coach

M: 0418 295 374      |      Email Us

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