Downtime: What is it and how can you prevent it?

The term downtime inherently carries a negative connotation. Experiencing downtime within production is usually undesirable. The goal of every production environment is to minimize downtime and maximize uptime. In this blog, we will discuss what downtime entails and the various wastes that can lead to downtime.

What is downtime?

Downtime is the measured time during which the production line cannot be utilized or is unavailable. When downtime occurs, production comes to a halt, which is certainly not desired! Opposite to downtime is uptime. Uptime is logically the time when the production line is available and therefore generating revenue for the company. You can compare downtime and uptime in production to website availability, whether it’s present or not. Downtime is a necessary KPI (Key Performance Indicator) within production to be continuously evaluated, along with uptime KPI.

What impact does downtime have on your production?

Downtime, or production stoppage, can be either planned or unplanned. Planned downtime may occur, for example, when machinery maintenance needs to be performed or when the factory temporarily closes due to holidays. Unplanned downtime often relates to one of the eight wastes outlined below and is therefore undesirable. Production stoppage in the form of unplanned downtime can arise from factors such as faulty equipment, a shortage of manpower, or improperly executed tasks in the production process. Downtime caused by equipment failure is also known as breakdown. Downtime has many negative consequences. Production stoppage results in lost productivity since production cannot continue on the line. Additionally, extra personnel often need to be mobilized to resolve downtime, costing extra time and money. Other consequences of downtime may include delayed production, leading to a delay in delivery time for the customer, accumulation of inventories due to non-processing, and a shortage of produced units compared to demand. In conclusion, the impact of downtime on production can be significant.

The 8 wastes of downtime

In Lean methodology, we now recognize eight wastes that collectively form the most common causes of downtime. If you find it challenging to remember the downtime wastes, you can use the memory aid TIM WOODS: Transport, Inventory, Motion, Waiting, Overproduction, Overprocessing, Defects, and Skills. Below, we discuss all these wastes, which Lean aims to eliminate.


Waste related to transport can arise quickly. There might be too much or too little transport occurring, or perhaps just too frequent. When everything is perfectly aligned, the right amount of transport can occur at the right times to meet delivery schedules and have inventories arrive on time. This way, excessive storage or unexpected delivery times are avoided. Also, consider internal information sharing in transport waste: is it as efficient as it could be?


Having a large inventory on hand may feel like a safe choice. However, it can also be a waste. If you have more inventory than necessary for planned production, you not only waste storage space but also have already spent money waiting to be recovered. Therefore, closely monitor customer demand and the production process to always know how much inventory is truly needed.


Employees searching for the right tools and moving around the factory do not contribute to the value of the production line or the customer at the moment of movement. Motion is a waste that is often overlooked because the employee is actively preparing for a task. However, motion can largely be eliminated if all tools are in the right place and easily accessible.


If a production process does not flow smoothly, employees will have to wait at various points until they can proceed with their tasks. This waiting time is rarely filled with activities that add value to the production line or the customer. Waiting is therefore a clear waste and can be avoided by better aligning the steps in the production process.


Like overprocessing, overproduction is a waste that is unnecessary if you stay close to customer demand. If you produce more than the customer consumes, you only use storage space to put finished products on hold until new orders come in. With semi-finished and finished products, there is also a high likelihood of wasting raw materials due to overproduction.


The other side of waste is doing too much. The customer expects what they have asked for, and delivering more than what the customer has requested is likely to mean the extras are not adding value for the customer. Overprocessing is also a waste that you should avoid. Do not deliver less than agreed with the customer, but also do not deliver more if it does not add value for the customer. Overprocessing is unnecessary.


The time needed to rectify a mistake is, to put it mildly, a waste. Mistakes happen where people work. It is logical that this happens occasionally. However, you can largely reduce the chance of making mistakes by working with checklists that show all the steps within the production line and on which every employee can tick off the actions performed to ensure that the processes are always maintained in the same way.


Waste of talent is the waste that has been added last to the list of Lean wastes. Nowadays, we can conclude that employees often have a lot of untapped potential. This is a waste of knowledge, of course, but also immediately increases the risk of employees missing the challenge in their work. Therefore, look for all the talents that employees carry and find an efficient way to make all this talent work for the company.

Preventing downtime? Use EZ-GO!

As you have read, many wastes can be limited or even prevented if every process is approached in the same way and all actions are well documented. This makes it quicker to identify the reason for unwanted downtime, reduce or eliminate the chance of downtime, and have all information for audits readily available. EZ-GO makes it super easy to implement standardization within processes by providing work instructions and checklists throughout the factory. The EZ-GO platform thus offers many tools to enable operators to perform first-line maintenance themselves, reducing downtime and increasing efficiency.