What is the key difference between Planned and Unplanned Shutdowns?

The positioning of the mind is what makes the difference between the failures and the successes: Jaachynma N.E. Agu


These days the heart sinks for many when suddenly our internet network stops. During peak summer afternoon, when abruptly electricity goes off, we sweat and crib the local government and electricity board for their inefficiency. Due to Covid, the planned lockdown was planned in many cities, states, and countries. When we are on a highway and our car all of a sudden breaks down, we get helpless.  


Any unplanned shutdown and downtime lead to financial damage to the plant.  For any business, maintaining business continuity and ensuring equipment reliability should be their key priority. Considering the emerging market demands and need for speed and consistency, it’s critical for a business to keep its critical equipment and operations running smoothly to minimize a bad impact on production, costs, and deliveries.

By having a systematic methodology in place, an organization can effectively and efficiently manage both planned and unplanned shutdowns.


Production shutdown: Condition where manufacturing processes are idle; time may be a few hours to a few months.

Total Productive Maintenance: A system of maintaining and improving the integrity of production and quality systems through machines. equipment, processes, and employees that add value to the organization

Detailed Information

For most organizations, the No. 1 goal is to maintain business continuity. Every day, an unplanned shutdown results in leaving potential profits on the table. It’s vital to keep business humming along as efficiently as possible at all times.

Considering a chemical plant having an unplanned shutdown, it can result in losses worth Millions and huge concerns related to human safety.

What is a Shutdown? A condition where manufacturing processes are idle; time may be a few hours to a few months.

Planned Shutdown: is time specifically scheduled to address equipment performance, hardware/software upgrades, facility maintenance, tool breaks, inspections, and other necessary upkeep. Because planned downtime is anticipated it is also controlled in terms of time and money invested, as well as productivity and labour losses.

An unplanned Shutdown: is any unforeseen event that reduces the return on investment by causing disruptions in quality, cost, and cycle time. It can be due to poor maintenance or hardware/software errors, operator error/performance, and/or slow changeovers

Downtime Cost: Tangible Cost+Intangible Cost

Impact of unplanned shutdown:

  • Expectations of customers and relevant interested parties remain the same!
  • Nobody (including top management) knows the right answers to the sudden shutdown
  • The high cost of production
  • Low Productivity
  • Unavailability of skilled manpower
  • Breakdown in the supply chain

What to do after restarting the machine after shutdown?

  • Define a process
  • Implement the necessary actions
  • Ensure product compliance
  • Fulfill the requirements
  • Train the concerned person for any unplanned shutdown

Following are some of the key Difference between Planned and Unplanned Shutdown:

S.No. Planned Shutdown Unplanned Shutdown
1 It is easy to manage the shutdown It is difficult to manage the shutdown
2 Extends the useful life and efficiency of the equipment The equipment is repaired for its routine performance
3 Enhances employees happiness and customer satisfaction Reduces employees happiness and customer satisfaction
4 Low cost of the maintenance High cost of the maintenance
5 Opportunity to show the preparedness of the effective maintenance process Opportunity to show preparedness under pressure
6 Does not impacts the ROI (Return On Investment) Impacts the ROI (Return On Investment)
7 Reflects effectiveness of Preventive and Predictive Maintenance Reflects ineffectiveness of Preventive and Predictive Maintenance
8 Easy availability of the replacement parts Critical replacement parts may not be available
9 Adequate provision of resources like manpower, equipment, etc. Inadequate resources available
10 No need for any contingency as everything is planned Time to see the effectiveness of the Contingency planning
11 No impact in the production, cost, and delivery as is planned Disruption in production, cost, and delivery

Present Challenges

  • How often organizations calculate the unplanned shutdown as part of Cost of Poor Quality (COPQ)?
  • How often Unplanned Shutdown is discussed as a key input in Management review meetings and the performance is reviewed through internal audits?
  • How often the organization clearly defines the difference between routine breakdown and unplanned shutdown?



ISO 9001: 2015

IATF 16949: 2016

Industry Experts


This is the 116th article of this Quality Management series. Every weekend, you will find useful information that will make your Management System journey Productive. Please share it with your colleagues too.

Your genuine feedback and response are extremely valuable. Please suggest topics for the coming weeks.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments