The hidden costs of downtime and how to avoid them

Few endeavours are as time sensitive as agriculture and no industry feels the impact of non-productive costs more quickly or directly.

You know the direct cost of equipment downtime – it’s measured in fields not tilled, crops not harvested and income not earned – and you know that proper maintenance can minimise those costs.

You also know there is more to the story because when it comes to maintenance it’s often either do it yourself or delegate to someone else and hope for the best. The choice can be tough when every minute counts toward success or failure.

Buying spares and parts to keep your equipment running has a significant cost which can be measured in terms of:

Time: Time searching on the internet or on the phone; waiting for calls to be returned; dealing with front counter staff who are not knowledgeable; or being informed of a part number that results in the incorrect part can add up to wasted time and effort.

Paperwork: The cost of paperwork required to raise and pay an order can be hundreds of euros, so it’s always wise to think of how you will pay for the goods.

For example, payment by account may be the easy option, giving you time to pay, but it also means more work at the end of the month to do the paperwork and pay the bill.

Delivery charges: It is easy to compare the cost of a part from different suppliers but don’t forget to add the shipping charges. If you buy a few items every day you may end up paying as much or more for shipping than you do for the parts.

Technology to support you

Fortunately, there is a way to minimise and control these costs. The free Perkins My Engine App helps you work out which parts you need, then you can order thousands of genuine Perkins parts at: www.perkins.com/shop ready for next-day delivery.

The app includes service scheduling and parts books so you can easily see exactly what activities are required and which parts are needed.

You can then search on the shop by part number or by engine model or serial number – ensuring you only see parts which are designed to fit and work perfectly on your engine.

Once you have the parts you need and are ready to work on your engine, all service manuals for Perkins UN ECE R96 Stage IIIA or below engines are available on the Perkins My Engine App.

This includes the following manuals:

  • Disassembly and assembly;
  • Electrical system;
  • Systems operation, test and adjust;
  • Specifications;
  • Troubleshooting guide;
  • Operation and maintenance.

How much is your maintenance admin costing you?

Because it directly impacts your ability to maximise income, maintenance really should be looked at as a potential profit centre rather than a cost. This means you need to know the real costs involved and that includes a lot more than parts and labour.

Those are just the visible costs; there are a lot more hidden from view. Here are three things to think about when you’re calculating the return on your ‘maintenance euro’.

Reliability and downtime

Reliability and downtime are different ways of looking at the same problem. You need to pay attention to both. Reliability measures how often a machine fails while downtime measures how long it takes to put it back in service.

Both impact and profitability need to be tracked to assess the effectiveness of your maintenance program. Tools like the Perkins SmartCap that links your engine to the free Perkins My Engine App can help you document both.

Machine downtime

Machine downtime impacts a lot more than just the machine that’s down. Someone or something has to pick up the slack and that can be expensive. Very few operations can afford to have spare equipment sitting idle “just-in-case” something fails in the field.

It’s much more likely the other machines and operators there will have to pick up the extra load and the additional wear and tear (and fatigue) that comes with it. An effective maintenance programme will help avoid both the downtime and the extra costs of compensating for it.

The right technology

The cost of ordering parts may well be more than the cost of the parts themselves. As we have seen, this is where the right technology really can make a difference.

Effectively managing and minimising the direct and hidden costs of downtime can make a significant difference in the profitability of agricultural operations.

In today’s environment the free Perkins My Engine App and www.perkins.com/shop are the right technology solutions for anyone whose livelihood depends on agriculture.