The Cost of Unplanned Downtime and Reactive Oilfield Service



All service industries face struggles that come with unplanned downtime. Malfunctioning equipment, multiple trips to the jobsite, unqualified technicians or those with expired certifications, and the wrong equipment and tools are among the most common sources of this costly error. However, in an industry fraught with dangerous working conditions and job sites spread across large and remote regions, oilfield services can benefit exponentially from reductions in unplanned downtime. Additionally, repeated trips to the worksite can erode profitability and, obviously, reduce efficiency. This system deepens a reactive model, placing field technicians behind work orders, continually playing “catch up.”

Several studies in 2017 revealed a pattern of causes (and effects) of unplanned downtime, each of which can be offset with technological tools available to oilfield services companies today. One found that companies reported an average loss of $2 million due to downtime, and others discovered that data assimilation was lacking. Here are some of the most common losses which can occur with unplanned downtime and a reactive service model, and some may surprise you:

Mechanical Failures

Equipment issues top the sources of unplanned downtime (aka: breakdowns). By not maintaining acquisition, regular service, and maintenance records, field service teams are simply waiting for the inevitable to happen. Companies often don’t know when equipment needs to be serviced, or even replaced. This means more than man-hours lost while technicians wait for equipment to be up and running; potential orders are lost as jobs become backed up, while labor costs remain high when employees are paid even though they can’t get the job done, then complete service orders in overtime. This epitomizes reactive field service.

Human Error

This is, not surprisingly, one of the leading factors in unplanned downtime. By not maintaining computerized records, even those companies who attempt to monitor asset repair needs are left with hand-written notes and static spreadsheets, which require time and effort to bring up-to-date. Human error can be the source of a variety of downtime-related scenarios we see: missed certifications and scheduled repairs, field ticket errors which affect job completion and can cause return trips the field, and even inventory mistakes which result in jobs sitting idle while technicians wait for parts. Digitization of processes not only improves accuracy but reduces the time needed for data entry.

Although not a cause, the length of unplanned downtime compounds the issue. It is not uncommon for critical equipment to be out of service for at least 4 hours—even days—while the problem can be detected, parts ordered, and service completed. In the meantime, productivity plummets, along with customer confidence and companies’ good reputations. As customer expectations rise with increasing competition in the service industry, some teams may rush to get assets back online, which can result in shortcuts in compliance and safety.

Lack of Integrated Technology

Companies understand the importance of reducing downtime, and some are even striving for a zero-tolerance of unplanned downtime and a move to predictive service. However, they may be unsure where to start. Unconnected tools, even if they are digital, can add another challenge to organizing and utilizing data so quick decisions and forecasting can be performed effectively, transforming the service model from reactive to predictive. Company goals and technological ability must align to keep all processes on the same path. Additionally, executive teams need access to data in real-time, decreasing the gap between data entry and utilization, so mobility is key to data collection, reducing downtime in oilfield services.

Oildex Oilfield Services Suite—Reduce Unplanned Downtime with Integrated Modules

One of the biggest advancements in reducing unplanned downtime comes with IoT—connected devices and applications allow data sharing across all business processes and help keep the executive team and department heads on top of operations. This data—both accurate and updated in real-time—allows leadership to move to a predictive service model, where planning for everything from equipment maintenance, scheduling, and even safety and training is based on collected data and analyzed for maximum returns. The Oilfield Services Suite provides companies with a one-stop solution, integrating several needs into one platform with individual modules to meet the needs of specific organizations, and brings insight and intelligence to oilfield service organizations.


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