Cost of Downtime and Outages

A pile of ticking watchesIt’s great when workers are not affected by foreign material events, but even when they are not affected the time consumed in object retrieval can cost big bucks. If a scaffold worker has to stop what he’s doing to retrieve a dropped piece of equipment, or worse yet, if he has to purchase new equipment, he must take time off to get the new equipment. Time is money.

Power Generation:

In power plant operations foreign material intrusions can result in forced outages. Plants must shut down to retrieve parts or repair equipment. Numbers vary depending on the size of the plant, but hourly downtime is incredibly expensive.

That cost is why power plants go through extensive planning to time their repairs when generation needs are their lowest. Work that is done when demand for energy is the lowest results in the smallest possible amount of revenue loss. Forced outages happen as a result of foreign material intrusions and cost significantly more than planned outages. These unplanned outages may happen during peak generation seasons and usually result in significant losses. One estimate finds that forced outages cost from 3 to 4.5 times as much as planned outages.[1]

The International Atomic Energy Agency blames poor Foreign Material Exclusion programs as one of the reasons for longer than planned plant outages.[2]

A major coal-fired plant in the northeast recently experienced 26.6 million in costs directly associated with a foreign material intrusion. One of the steam turbines was damaged when shot blast material was found in several components. The majority of this expense was due to outage downtime costs.[3]

Foreign Material Exclusion programs reduce the frequency of forced outages by preventing the incidents that cause them. The measures taken to prevent debris or avoid losing control of equipment keep downtime to a minimum and can save a company significant cash.

  1. Richwine, Robert R. (2004). Casom 18: The relationship between scheduled maintenance and forced outages and its economic impact on selecting availability goals. Retrieved from:
  2. 2. IAEA. (October 2002). Nuclear power plant outage optimisation strategy. Retrieved from:
  3. 3. Reconciliation of Energy Service and Stranded Cost Charges for 2008. (December 31, 2009). Docket No: DE 09-091. Retrieved from: