3 Components to Reduce Unplanned Downtime

In by contextere

Downtime often falls into two overarching categories: planned and unplanned. While planned downtime is generally considered productive time, as assets go through necessary upgrades or maintenance, unplanned downtime is often regarded as a negative result of poor planning and equipment failure. Specifically, 43% of unplanned downtime is caused by equipment failure, which can be extremely costly and increases repair costs by 50%.[1] For example, offshore oil and gas companies experience an average of 27 days of unplanned downtime per year, resulting in costs anywhere from $38 million USD to upwards of $88 million USD.[2]

Not included in the aforementioned costs, however, are opportunity costs. For instance, unplanned downtime can result in reputation damage, dissatisfaction among internal and external stakeholders, and decreased competitiveness in the marketplace. In short, frequent unplanned downtime can have severe negative consequences and can prove difficult to overcome. As a result, this week’s post will examine 3 components that we think will help reduce unplanned downtime.

Harness the Internet of Things (IoT) and Machine Learning (ML)

IoT is a system in which devices and machines can be connected to the Internet or each other to extract and gather data. By 2020, Statista estimates that there will be over 20 Billion IoT devices in use. This translates into copious amounts of data, greater than any human will be able to reasonably consume. Although this is cumbersome for humans, it’s ideal for ML. ML is a subset of Artificial Intelligence (AI) that requires large amounts of data to learn desirable and undesirable outcomes and recommend a path forward. We believe that coupling these two veins of technology will result in previously unattainable insight, leading individuals to make better decisions thereby reducing the length of unplanned downtime.

Make data consumable

While the advent of big data has made it possible for ML to come to fruition, it has also inundated humans with information. In fact, “[according] to a recent study by Accenture, 60% of operators cite dealing with outcomes of data gathered as a major challenge.”[3] Therefore, rather than provide individuals with all possible outcomes and insights that an ML algorithm can generate, we believe in making big data small, only providing users with the information that’s relevant to them in that moment.

Weave in context

Although we’re making great strides in AI, humanity has yet to reach a point where individuals aren’t performing the majority of maintenance and repair tasks on large assets. We would argue that this will not change in the foreseeable future, nor should it. On the last tactical mile, human judgment is required and judgment requires two things – context and a human brain. Therefore, just as it’s important to harness IoT data to understand the state of our assets, it is equally important to understand human context.  Combined, we’re able to curate and assemble the right information to be delivered at the right time on the right device. Ultimately, relevant, consumable, and contextual information will empower the worker to use their judgment to make optimum decisions and reduce unplanned downtime.

Take away

At contextere, we suggest combining IoT, ML, and context to reduce unproductive downtime, maximize productivity, and ultimately increase ROI. For instance, returning to our initial scenario in offshore oil and gas, if we conservatively estimate that technology can reduce unplanned downtime by just 1 day, a minimum of $1.4 million USD would be saved yearly in repairs and lost/deferred production. In addition, all the other negative, intangible impacts of unplanned downtime could begin to be repaired.

In the 2017 Digital Business Report, MIT SMR and Deloitte explain “”[m]ore than 70% of organizations that provide their employees with the opportunity to thrive and whose leaders have sufficient vision to lead digital efforts say their initiatives are successful. On the part of organizations that don’t, fewer than 25% can make the same claim.” With over two decades of experience in digital transformation, our founders are experts in the field. We can provide technology solutions or strategic consulting services to help you determine the right blend of human performance technology to achieve desired operational outcomes, empower your workforce, and reduce unplanned downtime.

To learn more, please contact us at info@contextere.com.

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[1] ARC Advisory Group

[2] GE Oil and Gas 2016

[3] GE Oil and Gas 2016