The Cost of Machine Downtime in Construction

Anyone working construction can attest to the fact that having a machine down for maintenance is an irritating interruption to one’s day. But the cost of machine downtime in construction goes beyond inconvenience. It impacts both the project and the people trying to complete it.

Replacements and Repairs

The first and most obvious cost of a machine going down is the cost to repair it. This cost depends largely on the machine itself and the amount of work needing to be done on it. There is also the cost of getting a replacement machine to do the downed machine’s work for the duration of its maintenance. This cost increases with the amount of time the original machine is out if one is renting the replacement.

Construction Delays

The bigger impact of machine downtime doesn’t come from the direct costs, though, but the indirect. When one machine goes down, even if a replacement is available, there will inevitably be delays. Construction delays have a whole host of costs, including the cost of being on the site longer, compromising client trust, fees associated with not meeting deadlines, as well as an increase in liability costs.

Worker Productivity

The impact on worker productivity goes beyond the delays themselves. In construction, as in many other industries, any individual task depends in part on all the other tasks happening on the site. That means if one machine goes out, other people doing a totally different task will have trouble finishing their work. Even if they can continue working, their help may be needed with the downed machine, taking them away from the task as well. Managers and overseers will also have to take their attention away from other tasks, causing the site to work less efficiently.

Employee Morale

In construction, the cost of machine downtime isn’t only tangible, though. Delays, repairs, and disruption to productivity affect employee morale. Disruption to workflow and not having the tools to do the work you were hired to do can cause tension and irritability on a site. Low employee morale has a number of hidden costs, such as absenteeism, illness, and a decrease in productivity.

For the sake of your jobsites, it is good to have individual plans to minimize downtime for all the machinery, including bulldozers, steamrollers, trucks, and forklifts. Along with this, establishing plans for how to respond to downtime will help the site maintain greater levels of productivity as they wait for their machines to be ready to work again.

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Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for Patch.com, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.