A service technician repairs a boiler.
A service technician repairs a boiler.

What Is Mean Time To Repair (MTTR) Incident Response Management?

MTTR, or mean time to repair, is an important metric used in incident response management. By calculating MTTR, facility managers and maintenance crews can estimate, corroborate, and effectively communicate an unplanned equipment or system failure or outage.

Here’s everything you need to know about MTTR, including how it’s used, how to calculate it, its benefits, and more.

What is MTTR?

MTTR helps facility managers evaluate the availability and reliability of equipment and/or business-critical systems. Technicians use MTTR in various fields in the context of maintenance, system reliability, or downtime management, and it’s an important piece of the puzzle when it comes to incident response.

MTTR can also provide insight into the severity or extent of incidents while communicating repair efforts with multiple parties.

MTTR, as we’re speaking about it here, stands for mean time to repair. However, there are three other variations:

  1. Mean time to recovery
  2. Mean time to respond
  3. Mean time to resolution

All of these metrics, represented by the acronym MTTR, overlap in some way and are very similar. They’re all meant to communicate the average time it will take to bring a system back online or make a piece of equipment functional again.

In other words, mean time to repair measures how long it will usually take to restore an asset that has failed. This helps maintenance teams and facilities prepare to handle disruptions caused by such failures. MTTR also:

  • Helps assess the quality of an organization’s maintenance practices. It can be used to improve asset management by discovering more information about an asset’s performance and value.
  • Maximizes the amount of uptime within a facility while minimizing the amount of time spent on maintenance.
  • Encompasses every step of the repair process, from initial assessment to repair and testing.

How is MTTR used?

MTTR has many different use cases in facility management, from performance monitoring to downtime management and risk assessment. Here are a few examples of how MTTR is used:

Performance monitoring

Tracking MTTR on a regular cadence allows organizations to identify trends in equipment and system functionality and highlight areas for improvement. A decreasing MTTR is the goal, as it indicates efficient repair processes. On the other hand, an increasing MTTR may signal underlying problems that are worth addressing.

Downtime management

Reducing downtime is crucial for many businesses as it minimizes disruptions to operations and productivity. By calculating MTTR, companies can set targets for repair times and work toward minimizing the impact of failures or unplanned breakdowns on their services.

Root cause analysis

MTTR is part of a broader process of understanding and addressing the root causes of failures. Analyzing MTTR data allows organizations to identify recurring issues, system weaknesses, or areas that need process improvements.

Resource allocation

The data collated as part of calculating MTTR helps organizations allocate resources more effectively. It allows them to determine the optimal number of maintenance staff, spare parts inventory, and equipment needed to enable efficient operations.

By knowing a particular asset’s MTTR, you can work to reduce the amount of time spent dealing with issues that arise from unplanned downtime, such as missed orders and product scrap.

How is MTTR calculated?

To calculate mean time to repair, simply divide the total number of hours that a maintenance crew spent on an unplanned asset or system failure by the total number of times that a crew has needed to repair that same asset over a given period of time.

Here’s what the MTTR formula looks like:

MTTR = Total Maintenance Time / Total Number of Repairs

mean time to repair (MTTR) equals total repair time divided by number of repairs

MTTR is measured in hours, so the result will represent the mean length of time. Alone, MTTR doesn’t provide enough context into the maintenance process to optimize workflows. That’s because it can’t determine issues with other aspects of the repair process, such as pre-repair delays or system alerts.

What are the benefits of MTTR?

Beyond the baseline insights that MTTR provides into the time it takes to repair a piece of equipment or a system, it can help the facility managers to:

Make better decisions about repair or replacement

If a particular piece of equipment’s MTTR is increasing as it ages, that could be a good indication that it’s time to replace it. After a certain point, the time and money invested in repeated repair may be more than it’s worth.

Be proactive about preventive maintenance scheduling

Even though MTTR measures reactive maintenance in practice, recurring patterns of long or increasing MTTR can help forecast delays and disruptions, allowing facility managers to better prepare for future interruptions.

Increase customer satisfaction

In customer-centric industries, a low MTTR often translates to higher customer satisfaction. Customers appreciate quick resolutions to issues, and tracking MTTR helps companies meet or exceed customer expectations by decreasing the chance of a severe or prolonged outage.

What are the different incident metrics?

MTTR is one of four primary metrics used in the incident response process for maintenance use cases. These measurements work together to help facility managers and maintenance crews optimize their workflows. Other incident metrics include:

  • Mean time between failures (MTBF) is used to estimate the elapsed time between failures of mechanical or electronic equipment.
  • Mean time to failure (MTTF) measures the average amount of time non-repairable items can operate before they fail. Non-repairable items are pieces of equipment that are more cost-effective to replace than repair, such as light bulbs.
  • Mean time to acknowledge (MTTA) measures the average duration between an alert triggering and when repair commences.

These metrics provide insight into a majority of maintenance processes to help forecast, plan for, and mitigate downtime.

MTTA, MTTR, and MTBF incident metrics are each used in the incident response process for maintenance management.

How do you reduce MTTR?

Having a solid maintenance planning process in place is a great first step to minimizing MTTR. A robust plan with a focus on maximizing preventive maintenance can help cut costs, save resources, and reduce lengthy suspensions.

6 key phases of preventive maintenance planning are: identify asset needs, create a plan, allocate resources, set a schedule, implement, and monitor progress and effectiveness.

Here are the six key phases of preventive maintenance planning:

  1. Identify assets and their respective maintenance needs.
  2. Create a plan.
  3. Allocate resources.
  4. Set a maintenance schedule.
  5. Implement and monitor progress.
  6. Evaluate effectiveness.

MTTR and its related metrics can greatly enhance your bottom line

FMX dashboards track department performance, average response time in days, and average resolution times.

MTTR—and other key performance metrics mentioned in this article—can help facilities maximize revenue while minimizing costs associated with regular or unplanned maintenance.

Reactive maintenance requires having proper processes in place for submitting a work request, work order management, and asset management.

Robust reporting and analytics software for MTTR, including software for managing work orders, tracking assets, and visualizing floor plans, helps reduce MTTR and minimize downtime.

Ready to implement your MTTRs into dependable, customizable, and easy-to-navigate maintenance management software? Reach out for a demo today.

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