Written By: Corey Foy

In the deadline driven world of construction, time truly is money. Every minute a bulldozer sits idle, a crane hangs motionless, or a cement mixer stands still, it's not just a minor inconvenience – it's a financial drain that can quickly escalate. Construction delays and unexpected expenses are never a good thing; however, they can affect different organizations in different ways. This blog will examine the impact of downtime on small, medium, and large operations.

What is Downtime, and Why Should You Care?

Downtime, in the simplest terms, is any period when your equipment isn't operating as it should. This could be due to a mechanical failure, lack of materials, operator error, or even something as simple as a flat tire. While downtime is a sad reality in any industry, it's impact on construction can be more severe.

Calculating the Hidden Costs of Downtime

The cost of downtime extends far beyond the immediate repair bill. It's a complex calculation that includes:

  • Lost productivity: The revenue you lose when projects are delayed.
  • Labor costs: Paying workers who are idle during the downtime.
  • Increased overhead: The ongoing expenses of running your business even when work isn't progressing.
  • Contractual penalties: Potential fines for missing deadlines.
  • Reputational damage: The loss of trust and future business opportunities.

While large construction companies might have the financial cushion to absorb some of these costs, small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are often hit the hardest. A single equipment breakdown can throw a wrench in their entire operation, leading to missed deadlines, unhappy clients, and a significant dent in their bottom line. A handy downtime calculator that we used to research this blog post can be found here.

How Downtime Affects Construction Businesses of All Sizes

Small Companies

Smaller companies are the most vulnerable to the effects of downtime. These businesses often operate with tight budgets, limited equipment, and smaller crews. A single backhoe breaking down or a vital part failing can derail and entire project. With little to no financial buffer, absorbing the costs of lost productivity, idle labor, and expedited repairs can quickly drain their cash reserves. Missed deadlines due to downtime can damage their reputation, making it harder to secure future contracts, further jeopardizing their survival.

Medium-Sized Companies

While medium-sized construction businesses may have more resources than their smaller counterparts, downtime still poses a significant threat. They typically have ongoing commitments to multiple projects and a larger workforce to manage. When downtime strikes, the costs multiply rapidly. Delays can strain client relationships, leading to potential contract disputes and lost opportunities. However, having more equipment and a larger workforce gives the company more options to deal with downtime.

Large Companies

Even large construction companies with substantial financial resources aren't immune to the pain of downtime. While they may be better equipped to handle the immediate financial burden, the indirect costs can be immense. Large-scale projects often involve intricate schedules and numerous subcontractors. A single delay can trigger a domino effect, disrupting the entire project timeline, causing friction with subcontractors, and potentially leading to legal disputes. The reputational damage from high-profile delays can be long-lasting and impact future bids.

49 North Lubricants: Your Partner in Keeping your Equipment Working

At 49 North Lubricants, we understand the unique challenges faced by construction businesses in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. In particular, we are a proven partner for small businesses seeking to eliminate downtime. Specifically, we offer a range of solutions designed to keep your equipment running smoothly and minimize the risk of costly downtime:

  • Same-Day or Overnight Delivery: When you need lubricants fast, we're here to help. Our rapid delivery service ensures you get the products you need when you need them, minimizing downtime due to supply chain issues.
  • Tank Monitoring: Our tank monitoring systems provide real-time insights into your lubricant levels, so you can proactively schedule refills and avoid running out unexpectedly.
  • In-House Technical Expert: Our experienced technical specialist, is available to provide expert advice and troubleshooting assistance, helping you identify and address potential equipment problems before they lead to downtime. For a more in-depth look at the services our technical specialist can offer read this article here.
  • 40 Years of Industry Experience: With four decades of serving the construction industry, we have a deep understanding of the challenges you face. We leverage this experience to provide tailored solutions that meet your specific needs.


Whether you're a small contractor with a handful of employees or a large construction firm with multiple projects underway, downtime is a risk you can't afford to ignore. By partnering with 49 North Lubricants and implementing proactive maintenance strategies and maintenance scheduling, you can minimize the impact of downtime and keep your projects on track.

Lastly, for any questions please call 1.800.463.0354 and speak to our technical specialist - Corey Foy or email info@49northlubricants.com. Alternatively, if you would like to browse our online store check out this link here!