Downtime is one of those words that every business owner and manager just dreads to hear.

When some or all of your people can’t access core IT systems and data, it’s always bad news – for relationships with customers, for productivity, for morale and, ultimately, for the bottom line.

But in the manufacturing and engineering (M&E) world, the downtime discomfort is doubled and the numbers that result can be, well, eyewateringly large.

Are you sitting down?

Research shows that the average manufacturer experiences 800 hours of downtime per year – or more than 15 hours per week.  For the average automotive manufacturer, one MINUTE of downtime costs almost £18,000.

Of course, the precise damage and cost of unplanned downtime depends on many factors and varies from one business to the next. Hopefully, your downtime costs don’t come close to those of our automotive friends.   But even losing a few hundred pounds per hour could make the difference between profit and loss on a job.  

And downtime can have horrible knock-on impacts, with expensive machinery lying idle,  inventories becoming depleted, staff abandoning other important tasks to understand the implications of the downtime and then advise customers of delivery delays and not to mention supply chain management.   Your reputation for reliability and great service, hard-earned over many years, is suddenly under immediate threat.

Running an IT and telephony support business as I do, I’d love to be able to say that unplanned downtime is 100% avoidable! The reality is that it’s very difficult to prevent every conceivable cause of downtime. Occasionally even the best technology fails and human error is always a possibility.

Faced with a challenge like this, you have to get practical – very quickly! What do we do about this then? Well, here are some key things that manufacturing and engineering businesses can do to minimise unplanned downtime – and even planned downtime too:

  1. Understand the risks and potential costs to your business of downtime
  2. Create a strategy and action plan to proactively manage all aspects of your IT
  3. Put a disaster recovery plan in place
  4. Organise regular automated backups
  5. Regularly check your backups
  6. Monitor and update all your devices and systems.

The thing is, for most businesses with limited IT resources and expertise,  the most efficient and cost-effective way of ensuring that these tasks are completed and checked is to work with a trusted IT service partner with specific technical expertise and management skills.  One that understands your business essentials, such as speed of response, proactive support and the importance of security, and is familiar with the M&E sector too, in particular the vital role of reliable IT, in your ERP and MES environments for example – and where your vulnerabilities may lie.

Although there are costs involved, as there are engaging with any supplier, these are usually very reasonable, while the impact of not making this investment can be huge.

Just one more tip: Make sure your prospective partner offers flexible terms so that you can quickly and easily go elsewhere if you need to – beware those businesses that want to tie you down to long contracts with onerous terms!  To help you find the right IT service provider for your business, we’ve also created this helpful guide.

If you’re concerned about the impact that downtime could have on your business and what you can do to prevent it, email us on or call us on 03300 886116 for a confidential chat about how we can help.