Equipment breakdown risk is on the rise

Updated: Apr 23

By Victoria Spears


According to an analysis from FM Global, equipment breakdown was responsible for nearly one-third of property-related losses in 2018.

Equipment breakdown now rivals fire loss in both frequency and severity of claims, according to an analysis of large risk losses reported in 2018 to FM Global.


Large risk losses are those losses greater than $3 million that do not include natural hazard loss.


FM Global said in a statement that of its 232 large risk losses last year, 65 were the result of equipment breakdown, resulting in 28% of FM Global losses across all industries in 2018 based on the gross loss dollar amount.


“A large number of those equipment breakdown losses last year could have been prevented. However, in a booming economy, many companies aren’t necessarily taking their facilities offline for preventive maintenance, often choosing instead an expensive roll of the dice rather than a more conservative bet,” said Brion Callori, FM Global senior vice president of engineering and research.


“Unfortunately, that strategy only works for so long before problems arise that can lead to expensive repairs, decreased revenue, and potential market-share loss for companies that can’t fill orders when their equipment breaks,” he continued.


Large losses


Other key findings from the 2018 review of large risk losses include:


  • 62% of equipment breakdown losses were due to lack of maintenance, accounting for three-quarters of all equipment loss claims paid.

  • 25% of equipment breakdown losses occurred after repairs were made or during startup.

  • Nearly half of all equipment breakdown losses had a significant human element impact or influence.

  • Operator training was a factor in 43% of equipment losses, highlighting the need for enhanced training and knowledge transfer as the industry sees significant turnover due to demographic changes.

“During the last five years we’ve seen increasing numbers of losses from equipment breakdown, especially in the pulp and paper, chemical, electric utility and mining industries,” said Callori. “Importantly, our analytics tools, based on thousands of location site visits by our loss prevention engineers over many years, continue to accurately predict large losses. While our data also shows those large losses diminish as engineering site visits and client tenure increase if companies don’t take measures to prevent equipment breakdown, they put their business resilience at risk.”


Later this year, FM Global said, it will expand its industrial control systems service, which will broaden loss prevention engineering, including cybersecurity, to encompass the software and hardware that controls clients’ industrial systems.


In April 2019, FM Global announced its plan to hire 60 seasoned engineers dedicated to helping clients prevent equipment breakdown-related losses. Once these additional engineers are hired, FM Global will have more than 250 engineers dedicated exclusively to major equipment such as boilers, turbines, generators, transformers, chemical vessels, compressors, and pulp and paper processing machines.


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