Many highly productive plants run 24 hours a day, covering three shifts, and the only planned downtime is over part of the weekend. The larger manufacturers deploy a tiered approach in which reliability personnel monitor critical machinery to predict potential failures or efficiency loss. They want to know of possible problems ahead of time so they can fill out work orders for the maintenance team, who can then make appropriate repairs when machines are planned to be offline.
That works for the big guys, such as auto and heavy equipment manufacturers, but what about plants where the maintenance team is also the reliability team and a skeleton crew is chasing machinery events just to stay ahead of the next disastrous failure?
The key is to find ways to check machinery while it is running, maintain safe practices while doing so, and then accurately document the results. The more work you can do from the perimeter of the equipment without going into lockout and shutting down the equipment down (thereby losing manufacturing throughput), the better.