Planned or Unplanned, Downtime is a Drag

According to a recent study, eliminating unplanned downtime was listed as a top priority for 72% of organizations across a variety of industrial sectors. Why are companies placing such high importance on this benchmark? That same study concluded that unplanned downtime costs companies $260,000 per hour, and the majority of companies have two unplanned outages in the span of three years, equating to more than $2 million. 

At the same time, planned maintenance is on the rise across all U.S. industrial markets. In the oil and gas industry, for example, U.S. refiners spent more than $1.26 billion on scheduled plant outages, turnarounds and shutdowns in 2018, an increase of 38.5% compared to the previous year.

Scheduled events when all or part of an industrial plant is taken offline for an extended period so that preventive maintenance or upgrades may be performed are costly in terms of both lost production and costs for the labor, tools and materials used to execute the project. Depending on the product that is under production, attention must also be paid to ensure that product quality is not compromised during scheduled downtime.

Companies are looking for innovative ways to efficiently and cost effectively manage the business impact of both planned and unplanned outages.

One way to address the time and labor challenges associated with planned outages is to utilize switch-rated plugs and connectors listed under UL 2682. Unlike standard connectors, devices listed under UL 2682 can operate as switches and be used to disconnect loads, even when energized, greatly reducing the amount of time necessary to verify that electrical equipment is de-energized before being worked on.

With a switch-rated connector system, the plug being separated from the receptacle provides visual proof that power has been removed and displays fast and positive compliance with NEC requirements for de-energizing industrial equipment. For the example of changing out an electric motor, this process typically takes one to three hours, with a total of up to four employees required per motor. Switching technology allows one employee to change out an electric motor in minutes.

Companies can also ensure code compliancy and increase plant maintenance efficiencies by utilizing products with Type 4X and IP69K protection ratings. With a watertight connection to eliminate or reduce the risk of electrical shocks, short circuits, and electrical fires, sealed systems can withstand washdown and a number of harsh industrial environments, effectively eliminating the ingress of dust and water and helping to prevent against unplanned outages.

By investing in electrical componentry designed with industry ratings and OSHA compliance in mind, end users now have an easy solution to the dangerous problem of de-energizing industrial machines and equipment.  Companies will then ensure code compliancy and increase plant maintenance efficiencies by reducing unplanned downtime.