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How to Improve Your Calculate MTBF and MTTR Skills in 5 Days


Is managing downtime throwing your operational efficiency off balance? If so, understanding how to calculate Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF) and Mean Time To Repair (MTTR) is the key to unlocking high equipment availability and overall productivity in your maintenance operations.

MTBF tracks the average time between system failures, providing essential clues to asset reliability and performance. MTTR, on the other hand, measures the average time it takes your team to repair a failure and restore full operations. Together, MTBF and MTTR are cardinal metrics that help in proactive planning, reducing costly downtime, and enhancing the dependability of your equipment.

However, the complexity of compiling operational data, analyzing the numbers, and applying transformative insights often makes it a daunting task for maintenance teams. At MicroMain, we believe it does not always have to be this way.

This guide provides a comprehensive 5-day program to beef up your skills in calculating MTBF and MTTR. Each day will take you closer to proficiently handling failure metrics. By the end, you’ll be well-equipped to harness these essential concepts to propel your maintenance operations to greater efficiency and effectiveness.

Infographic Details: Visual representation explaining the differences and relationships between MTBF and MTTR and their benefits in maintenance management. Highlights the role of a CMMS in automating calculations and applying the resultant insights in resource management and preventive maintenance strategies.


Day Topic
Day 1 Basics of MTBF and MTTR
Day 2 Calculating MTBF and MTTR
Day 3 Using CMMS for MTBF and MTTR Calculations
Day 4 Applying MTBF and MTTR in Real-World Scenarios
Day 5 Improving MTBF and MTTR Calculations

Day 1: Understanding the Basics of MTBF and MTTR


What is MTBF (Mean Time Between Failures)?

Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF) is a critical metric in plant maintenance management and lean manufacturing. It measures the average time a mechanical or electrical system remains operational between failures—in other words, the average time that something works until it fails and needs to be repaired (again). The higher the MTBF, the more reliable the system is. This is calculated as the total uptime divided by the number of breakdowns.


What is MTTR (Mean Time To Repair)?

On the other hand, Mean Time To Repair (MTTR) is the average time it takes to repair something after a failure. It’s calculated as the total downtime divided by the number of breakdowns. Keeping MTTR as low as possible reduces downtime and the cost of installation. MTTR may be high due to understaffing or poor inventory control because of the time it takes to order a replacement part and wait for it to arrive.


The Difference Between MTBF and MTTF (Mean Time To Failure)

MTBF and MTTF (Mean Time To Failure) might seem similar, but are used in different contexts. While MTBF applies to devices or systems that can be repaired after a failure, MTTF is used for non-repairable systems—like a light bulb in a chandelier. MTTF is the average time before a non-repairable asset fails, whereas MTBF measures the intervals between failures for assets that can be repaired.


The Role of MTBF and MTTR in Lean Manufacturing and Plant Maintenance Management

MTBF and MTTR are vital for all lean initiatives, as reliable production processes are crucial in a Lean Manufacturing environment. They help organizations understand their equipment’s availability (uptime) and reliability.

By estimating when equipment may fail, companies can prepare for contingencies that require equipment repair. This improves scheduling maintenance, inventory planning, and system design. In fact, MTBF can be used in various business decisions, especially concerning procuring heavy machinery and high-value assets.

At MicroMain, we understand the importance of these metrics and our CMMS software is designed to help you easily calculate MTBF and MTTR. With accurate and automated calculations, we help you make informed decisions to improve your maintenance management.

Stay tuned for Day 2, where we’ll dive into how to calculate MTBF and MTTR.

Day 2: Learning How to Calculate MTBF and MTTR

On the journey to improve your calculating MTBF and MTTR skills, understanding the formulas and how to apply them is crucial. Today, we’ll explore the mathematical side of these metrics and provide practical examples to solidify your understanding.


The Formula for Calculating MTBF

Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF) is a key metric for understanding the reliability of an asset. The formula for calculating MTBF is straightforward:

MTBF = Total operational hours ÷ Number of failures

For instance, if an asset was operational for 1,000 hours in a year and broke down eight times, the MTBF for that equipment is 125 hours (1,000 ÷ 8). This means, on average, you can expect about 125 hours of operation between each breakdown.


The Formula for Calculating MTTR

Mean Time To Repair (MTTR) measures the average time to repair an asset after a failure. The formula for MTTR is:

MTTR = Total unplanned maintenance time ÷ Total number of failures

For example, if an asset failed five times a year, requiring 10 hours to repair, the MTTR would be 2 hours (10 ÷ 5). This indicates it takes an average of 2 hours to repair the asset after each failure.


Practical Examples of MTBF and MTTR Calculations

Let’s look at a practical example. A CNC machine operates for 1,000 hours per year, and during that year, it breaks down four times. The total downtime for repairs was 20 hours. Using the MTBF and MTTR formulas, we can calculate:

MTBF = 1,000 ÷ 4 = 250 hours MTTR = 20 ÷ 4 = 5 hours

This tells us that the machine can operate for an average of 250 hours between failures, and it takes 5 hours to repair it after each failure.


How to Calculate Availability from MTBF and MTTR

The availability of an asset is calculated using both MTBF and MTTR:

Availability (A) = MTBF ÷ (MTBF + MTTR)

Using the previous example, the availability of the machine would be:

A = 250 ÷ (250 + 5) = 0.98 or 98%

This means the machine is available for use 98% of the time. Using these calculations, you can better plan maintenance schedules and improve the overall efficiency of your operations.

Understanding how to calculate MTBF and MTTR is critical in effective maintenance management. MicroMain’s CMMS software automates these calculations, saving time and providing accurate data to improve decision-making. Stay tuned for Day 3, where we will explore how to utilize CMMS software for MTBF and MTTR calculations.

Day 3: Utilizing CMMS Software for MTBF and MTTR Calculations

Having understood the basics of MTBF and MTTR and how to calculate them, it’s time to take these skills to the next level by learning how to automate them using Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) software.


The Role of CMMS Software in Maintenance Management

A CMMS is a powerful tool that helps manage all aspects of maintenance operations, including tracking equipment performance, scheduling preventive maintenance, managing spare parts inventory, and, most importantly for our discussion today, automating MTBF and MTTR calculations.

The beauty of using a CMMS for calculating MTBF and MTTR is that it systematically tracks unplanned downtime associated with breakdowns and the time taken to repair assets until they return to normal operating conditions. This means the software does all the heavy lifting, ensuring accurate calculations and saving you valuable time.


How CMMS Software Automates MTBF and MTTR Calculations

To automate MTBF and MTTR calculations, a CMMS software like ours at MicroMain logs each instance of maintenance for individual assets, including the date and time when the asset becomes inactive for repair. The software then calculates the time to repair the asset until it returns to normal operating condition. This gives rise to a metric called MTTR.

For MTBF, the software tracks the operational time between failures and automatically calculates the average time between failures. The comprehensive data collected by the CMMS over time ensures the accuracy of these calculations.


The Benefits of Using MicroMain’s CMMS Software for MTBF and MTTR Calculations

Our CMMS software at MicroMain doesn’t just automate MTBF and MTTR calculations. It also offers many other benefits, making it a valuable tool for any maintenance team.

First, our CMMS software provides detailed failure mode capture with issue and failure codes, aiding in root cause analysis and preventive measures.
Second, our software allows you to segment MTBF and MTTR calculations for specific locations, asset types, and periods. This can help you identify areas with the biggest opportunities for improvement.

Finally, with our CMMS software, you can set global goals for improvement by calculating your organization’s overall MTBF and MTTR. This allows you to plan your maintenance time and resources more effectively, reducing planned and unplanned downtime.

In summary, the right CMMS software can greatly simplify and improve calculating MTBF and MTTR. By automating these calculations, you can ensure accuracy, save time, and gain valuable insights to enhance your maintenance strategy.

Day 4: Applying MTBF and MTTR in Real-World Scenarios

After understanding the basics and learning how to calculate MTBF and MTTR, it’s time to see how these metrics can be used in real-world scenarios.


How MTBF and MTTR Inform Asset Replacement Decisions and Preventive Maintenance Scheduling

MTBF and MTTR are integral in strategically planning asset replacement and maintenance scheduling.

Over the useful life of an asset, the MTTR tends to increase because older assets typically take more time to repair, and their failures are often more serious. By looking at the changes in MTTR over time, you can better decide when an asset needs to be replaced or if it makes more sense to keep asking the maintenance department to repair it.

On the other hand, MTBF reveals how long, on average, an asset can run before needing repair. This metric helps you plan and schedule preventive maintenance activities effectively, thus reducing equipment downtime.


Using MTBF and MTTR to Improve Resource Management and Inventory Control

MTBF and MTTR are also invaluable for optimizing resource management and inventory control.

For instance, if repairs take too long, it could be due to a delay in sourcing the required parts. Tracking parts with inventory control software, like MicroMain’s CMMS, can help ensure you have the necessary parts when needed. The software can automatically adjust inventory levels in real-time, alerting you when you hit your safety par level and it’s time to place the next purchase order.


Case Study: Improving Maintenance Efficiency with MTBF and MTTR

Let’s consider a real-world example to illustrate how MTBF and MTTR can improve maintenance efficiency.

Say you have a press that ran for 24 hours and failed twice, with each repair taking an hour. The total operation time was 22 hours (24 hours minus 2 hours for repairs). When you divide the total operating time (22 hours) by the total number of failures (2), you get an MTBF of 11 hours. This indicates that, on average, the press will fail every 11 hours.

By analyzing this data, you can identify that the press is not a reliable asset and take necessary actions. This could involve training the operator to use the machine correctly, standardizing maintenance procedures, or replacing the machine if the MTBF remains low.

In conclusion, by using MTBF and MTTR in your maintenance strategy, you can make more informed decisions about equipment repair and replacement, optimize your inventory control, and ultimately reduce planned and unplanned downtime. We will delve into advanced techniques for improving MTBF and MTTR calculations tomorrow, so stay tuned!

Day 5: Advanced Techniques for Improving MTBF and MTTR Calculations

Having covered the fundamentals and the practical application of MTBF and MTTR, it’s time to delve deeper into advanced techniques that can enhance your calculations and, thus, improve your maintenance strategy.


How to Remove Outliers to Get Accurate MTTR Calculations

When calculating MTTR, it’s crucial to remember that data outliers can significantly skew your results. Unusually high or low values that do not represent typical conditions can distort the average time to repair a failure, leading to inaccurate predictions and poor decision-making.

You might use statistical methods such as the Interquartile Range (IQR) method to remove outliers. However, it’s important to investigate each outlier to understand its cause. Was it due to extraordinary circumstances, like a natural disaster or a supplier strike, that are unlikely to repeat? Or does it indicate a deeper issue that needs to be addressed, like poor inventory management or understaffing? You can refine your MTTR calculations and make better-informed decisions by identifying and understanding outliers.


The Importance of Data Collection Systems for Effective Use of Failure Metrics

The accuracy of your MTBF and MTTR calculations is directly tied to the quality of your data. A robust data collection system is, therefore, essential. It should track not only the instances of failures and the time taken to repair them but also relevant details like the type of failure, the asset’s age, and the environmental conditions at the time of failure.

We at MicroMain understand the importance of comprehensive data collection, which is why our CMMS software offers advanced features like automated data logging and real-time monitoring. This ensures you have all the data you need to calculate accurate and meaningful MTBF and MTTR figures.


How to Use MTTR to Improve Productivity and Incident Management

MTTR isn’t just a measure of recovery time; it’s also a valuable tool for improving productivity and incident management. By analyzing your MTTR data, you can identify bottlenecks in your repair process and take steps to address them.

For instance, a high MTTR might indicate a lack of spare parts, understaffing, or inadequate training among your maintenance team. Addressing these issues can lead to faster repair times, less downtime, and improved productivity. Further, MTTR data can help you refine your incident response protocol, ensuring incidents are acknowledged and resolved swiftly and effectively.


The Difference Between MTTR and Mean Time to Recovery/Restore

While often used interchangeably, MTTR and Mean Time to Recover/Restore (also MTTR) differ. MTTR, as we’ve discussed, is the average time it takes to repair a failure. Mean Time to Recovery, on the other hand, is the time it takes to restore the system to full functionality. This includes the repair time and the time taken to test the system and confirm it’s working correctly.

Understanding the difference between these two metrics is key to accurately assessing your system’s performance. While MTTR gives you insight into your repair process, Mean Time to Recovery gives you a more comprehensive view of your system’s downtime.

In conclusion, applying these advanced techniques can improve your ability to calculate MTBF and MTTR accurately. This will enable you to develop a more effective maintenance strategy, optimize your resource allocation, and ultimately reduce downtime and increase productivity.

Conclusion: The Power of MTBF and MTTR in Maintenance Management

Mastering how to calculate MTBF and MTTR is not just about understanding formulas and doing the math. It’s about leveraging these metrics to drive data-informed decisions that propel your maintenance management to new heights of efficiency and reliability.

MTBF (Mean Time Between Failures) is a critical measure of reliability that can help you assess the operational efficiency of your assets. A higher MTBF value indicates that your machines can operate for longer periods without failure, which is a testament to the effectiveness of your maintenance strategies.

MTTR (Mean Time To Repair), on the other hand, provides invaluable insights into your maintenance productivity. A shorter MTTR indicates swifter response times and more efficient repair processes, which can directly impact reducing downtime and enhancing your organization’s productivity.

Utilizing CMMS software can immensely simplify calculating these metrics and, more importantly, provide you with actionable data that can help you improve your maintenance operations.

At MicroMain, we offer powerful, flexible, and easy-to-use CMMS and EAM software to help you manage your maintenance operations effectively. Our software can automate MTBF and MTTR calculations, provide comprehensive data reports, and address your main pain points, including unplanned downtime, high maintenance costs, inefficient inventory management, and lack of data reporting capabilities.

Ultimately, understanding and improving your MTBF and MTTR calculations is a continuous journey that requires regular monitoring, analysis, and adjustments. But the rewards of this journey are significant – reduced downtime, increased productivity, optimized resource allocation, and, most importantly, a robust and reliable maintenance management system.

For more information on leveraging MTBF and MTTR in your maintenance operations, check out our blog or contact us today for a free quote on our industry-leading CMMS and EAM software solutions.

The power of MTBF and MTTR lies in their ability to transform raw data into valuable insights that can drive your maintenance management to new heights of success.



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