ABB Survey Reveals Unplanned Downtime Costs $125,000 Per Hour

Despite this, 21% of businesses surveyed still rely on run-to-fail maintenance.


According to the new “Value of Reliability” survey from ABB, over two-thirds of industrial businesses experience unplanned outages at least once a month, costing the typical business* close to $125,000 USD per hour**. Despite this, 21% of businesses surveyed still rely on run-to-fail maintenance.

The survey, conducted by Sapio Research in July 2023, gathered responses from 3,215 plant maintenance decision-makers globally across the energy generation, plastics and rubber, oil and gas, wind, chemicals, rail, utilities, marine, food and beverage, water and wastewater and metals sectors. It is part of a report that provides insights into how businesses currently manage maintenance and how they can reduce unplanned downtime.

The findings demonstrate the importance of equipment reliability and maintenance. Ninety-two percent reported that maintenance has increased their uptime in the last year, with 38% reporting an improvement of at least a quarter. Also, three-quarters of respondents said that reliability positively impacts their business reputation and financial performance and helps them meet contractual obligations, prevent waste and secure repeat business. Reliability was rated by respondents as the top priority when purchasing new equipment.

Looking forward, 60% plan to increase their investment in reliability and maintenance in the next three years, with a third planning to boost spend by more than 10%. Nine in 10 respondents expressed interest in outcome-based maintenance agreements. Under these, operators pay service partners based on achieved outcomes, such as increased uptime or energy efficiency. This results in efficient and effective service delivery with predictable cashflow. 

"There’s no typical length for an outage, but consider one that lasts a working day of eight hours – based on the median hourly rate, it would cost a business one million dollars," said Virve Viitanen, Head of Global Customer Care and Support at ABB’s Motion Services division. "With this in mind, industrial businesses should aim to progress from a high-risk run-to-fail maintenance approach to a long-term outcome-based strategy. This will improve reliability, business reputation, competitivity, cut costs and provide peace of mind – empowering businesses to focus on their core competence.”

This new, outcome-based model to maintenance will help industrial businesses meet incoming emissions targets and regulations as the world fights against climate change. In addition, it will help overcome the industry skills gap as experienced technicians reach retirement age.


*The median value was used rather than the mean/average. Because of the distribution of answers, the median is a closer representation of the typical organization.

**The survey is based on information provided by third parties in response to a questionnaire, rather than reviewing actual accounting records.

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