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£180 billion a year lost to machine downtime

Improving resilience can reduce downtime, protect quality and safeguard relationships and reputations

For today’s food and drink manufacturer, lack of resilience is not an option. With competition intense and margins under unprecedented pressure, lost revenues, soured commercial relationships and disgruntled customers are risks no company can afford.

Avoiding production downtime is a must. In an industry heavily dependent on energy – for production plant, refrigeration, air compressors and ovens – a reliable and stable supply is key. But evidence suggests many manufacturers are leaving themselves vulnerable to costly outages or quality issues. We know the new technologies and approaches that can transform the economics of energy – and deliver a real competitive edge.

The risks are real

Recent research has put the cost of machine downtime to British manufacturers at over £180bn1 a year. And increased reliance on technology to automate production processes opens up new vulnerabilities to equipment failures or power outages.

Food and drink manufacturers, with their perishable ingredients and outputs, are particularly vulnerable. Any slip up can have dire consequences for relationships with major commercial partners and reputations in the marketplace. The NFU Food Fraud Report found that only 12% of people in the UK have confidence in the European food chain, and only 7% in the global food chain.2 Yet a survey of food and drink manufacturers by Centrica Business Solutions found that only 25% had fully assessed the risk of an energy supply interruption over the previous 12 months3, with just 28% having implemented back-up generation at all or most of their facilities4.

 A robust energy estate aids resilience

Too many food and drink manufacturers are at the mercy of ageing and inefficient energy estates, increasingly prone to failure and the risk of compliance breaches – compounded in some areas by unreliable grid supply. In the US, estimates suggest 52% of food recalls cost upwards of $10 million5, not including damage to reputation and brand value.

New on-site generation and storage technologies offer a solution. On-site generation technologies – such as combined heat and power (CHP) generation, back-up generators and solar – can not only reduce dependency on the grid, but also cut energy costs. Regular maintenance is another key protection, and one where expert third parties can prove invaluable. Predictive maintenance such as energy sensors that flag up anomalies in energy usage can prompt early remedial action, preventing downtime or compromised product quality. Research suggests predictive maintenance technologies can cut maintenance-planning time by 20–50%, equipment downtime by 10–20% and overall maintenance costs by 5–10%6.

Resilience begins here...

Our extensive experience in the industry highlights some clear and actionable solutions:

  • Implement robust on-site and back-up generation, with options such as CHP plants, uninterrupted power supply (UPS), batteries and diesel generators
  • Improve monitoring and proactive predictive maintenance
  • Ensure effective maintenance programmes for on-site energy estates
  • Consider outsourcing, to benefit from the latest insights and reduce strain on in-house resources



  • 1 The Staggering Cost of Machine Downtime Report, Oneserve, 2017
  • 2 NFU Food Fraud Report 2017
  • 3 Energy Advantage Research, Centrica Business Solutions. Statistics based on a six country survey of more than 1,000 energy decision-makers in large organisations
  • 4 Energy Advantage Research, Centrica Business Solutions. Statistics based on a six country survey of more than 1,000 energy decision-makers in large organisations
  • 5 Food Safety in a Globalised World, Swiss Re, 2015
  • 6 Predictive Maintenance and the Smart Factory, Deloitte, 2017