Navigating Maintenance: Staffing During Plant Downtime

plant downtime

Plant downtime can be a costly affair in more ways than one. Besides production losses and service costs, there is an equally pressing concern—adequate staffing during maintenance shutdowns. However, it’s all too familiar for plants to put this top-level concern on the backburner. Unfortunately, day-to-day duties and concerns tend to shelve downtime staffing down on the agenda, even when many plant managers depend on third party manufacturing contractors to supplement their workforce. Putting a game plan in place can help ensure you’re well-staffed for plant shutdowns and not at risk of sacrificing optimal uptime

Knowing When to Reinforce Your Staff During Plant Downtime

It can be a tricky concept to pin down exactly when to call in a third party contractor. But it all starts with planning. In fact, planning is key in curbing the risk for plant shutdowns to run over. Plus, planning for staffing early on makes it much simpler to prepare for third party support. No one wants last-minute workforce scrambles too close to the shutdown’s start date. To assess staffing needs, start by:

  • Building a plan to deal with downtime maintenance
  • Outlining specific staff duties and obligations
  • Coming to experts early on

Making a Plan 

Oftentimes, staffing isn’t the first thing you’ll need to assess. You’re more likely (and probably better for it) to assess assets first. Your downtime maintenance plan will need to incorporate a detailed work schedule. This schedule will define the time each job will take and bookend project start and end dates as well. If you’re old school, Gantt charts do this well. You can also utilize more modern techniques, such as customized checklists and metrics that measure project progress. 

Not to be forgotten—your maintenance plan will also assess staffing. Diagram what each shutdown phase will call for in terms of manpower. This list can be quite comprehensive; it might entail engineers, service specialists, vendors, technicians, contractors, and more. On-site personnel have a tendency to shoot up by hundreds of percent during instances of plant downtime. 

Outlining Roles

In-house staff may not have the skills and expertise to carry out key plant downtime duties. Knowing this beforehand allows you to sufficiently supplement through third party manufacturing contractors and other specialists. 

It’s also good to clearly define jobs and their duties, to steer away from redundant work. If everyone knows what their job is, they can be much more effective team members. They can devote time and resources to their specific role undistracted and unabated, helping to ensure a return to normal operations sooner. 

Petitioning Experts

Plant managers have multiple moving parts to deal with on a regular basis. This, coupled with confidence in third party contractors, can lead to delays in contacting those contractors until things get critical. However, it’s better to be proactive in your approach. In fact, early planning can net savings in both costs and time later on. Soliciting professional expertise can even help relieve the burden brought about by logistics, with specialists offering input in determining what needs to be done and the best way to do it. 
Looking for experts who know how to handle plant downtime and get your facility up and running again? Call on Southern Field-EEC. We specialize in solving your plant’s big problems and maximizing uptime. We’re fully equipped in personnel, products, and parts to see your plant maintenance shutdown through to success. Contact a representative, request a quote, and return to our blog for more industry info and insights.