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Week 14 - Downtime Index Report

The covid-19 outbreak has exposed several challenges for the construction sector. While some of us in construction are still building temporary hospital wards, installing complex and life-saving oxygen systems, and building the infrastructure that society needs to function, others have shut down.

While we see a slight rise in our Downtime Index, the number of active machines keeps declining. This means that less machines are getting more work done. During these times, availability of services across OEMs, rentals and contractors provides an opportunity to focus on getting the general health of machines into a better state.

Downtime Index Explained

The Downtime Index compiles weekly harmonized engine utilization changes. Engine utilization is defined as voltage activity on a machine’s alternator. We express the changes as index numbers to allow for quick international comparisons. The index starts at week 4 and is referred to as the base week. In subsequent weeks, percentage increases push the index number above 100, and percentage decreases push the figure below 100. An index number of 102 means a 2% rise from the base week, and an index number of 98 means a 2% fall. The underlying data comes from a fully anonymized cohort of approximately 150,000 off-highway construction machines in Europe and North America with high densities in France, Germany, Denmark and the US (40% all together).

Week 14: Less Machines Are Getting More Work Done

The 6% increase of the Downtime Index from week 13 to 14 indicates that machine utilization is surprisingly going up after 2 weeks of steady decline. In week 14, the Downtime Index slowly climbs up and almost hits the 78th mark. However, this still means that machines are now utilized 22% less compared to what we’d expect and a considerable 25% less compared to 2019.

The gradual decline of the machine activity metric indicates that less machines are working compared to the previous weeks. We see a slight 2% fall from week 13 to 14 which means that only 44% of the machines have been working at all in the previous week. Such a fall does not follow the gentle rise of machine utilization and our Downtime Index. This means that less machines are working more at the construction sites. This is expected since some machines are easier to shut down and more versatile machines are being used more and for wider tasks. 

We see considerable regional differences across the Downtime Index. While machine utilization keeps decreasing in Southern Europe, Eastern Europe keeps performing better than expected with index numbers pushing way above 100. France, Spain and Italy all suffer from a drop in machine utilization which in week 14 is only 25-40% of expected.

How Can Construction Adopt to Changes

We think that the following actions can help construction executives overcome the ongoing challenge of covid-19’s impact and benefit from it when the economy rebounds.

Getting machines into a better state

Most OEMs spare part activities are still ongoing across North America and Europe. Major rentals also provide service on their machines. Contractors are working on job sites with less and less machines. Service technicians availability is significantly increased. These factors provide an opportunity to focus on general health of machines that are standing still.

Protecting the safety and health of service technicians should remain first priority for all of us in construction. However, when equipped with appropriate safety clothing, technicians can focus their efforts on general service schedules and preventative maintenance of machines. Parked machines during such crisis times make it possible to investigate and fix root causes thoroughly.  This will provide long term benefits across the construction value chain when economy rebounds and job sites are filled with more healthy machines and operators.

Get in touch with us in case you have any questions or comments on insights@trackunit.com. Share your response or insight on social media with #eliminatedowntime

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