Up and Running in No Time: 8 Ways to Minimize the Machinery Downtime in an Industrial Environment
There are few things more frustrating than experiencing unplanned downtime and the cost to industry runs into billions every year, so how do you keep those incidents to a minimum in your own manufacturing business?
Here is a look at some of the key strategies that should help you to minimize machinery downtime.
The solutions vary enormously, from carrying out a robust risk audit to finding a reliable ball screw manufacturer, and lots more besides.
The most obvious starting place
If you are looking to create a strategy that covers as many angles as possible and pulls everything together so that you stand the best chance of keeping downtime to an acceptable level, a good place to start would be to carry out a comprehensive audit of your current system and procedures.
If you are working with manufacturing equipment that has been in use for a number of years that does create a set of risks and challenges that you have to identify and plan for.
It is not unusual to be using machinery that has been running for a good few years when you consider the initial investment you made to acquire the item, but what you need to know is what you are going to do when something goes wrong.
There is the potential issue that parts might no longer be readily available, for example, so carry out a risk audit to identify potential problems that could create a downtime situation and develop a plan that illustrates how you are going to find a solution as quickly as possible.
Focus your mind
It is probably not a number you really want to know, but you do need to calculate the actual cost of downtime.
This calculation involves working out how much it costs you in lost production, man hours, and delayed sales if production is interrupted.
Once you have this figure, it helps provide justification for spending a certain amount of money on various prevention activities and strategies.
Embrace data reporting systems
There are many options available now when it comes to manufacturing software and it makes clear sense to seek out a way to create a data reporting system that gives you the sort of information you need to get a detailed overview of what is happening every minute of the day on the production line.
Maintenance and repair support
Your data reporting system should be able to highlight regular maintenance and repair issues that are costing your downtime and that will help you to put together a maintenance and repair support package.
If you don’t have the technical know-how required on the payroll to deal with a repair or maintenance task quickly, the solution would be to create a support network.
Being able to rely on outside help for regular maintenance or emergency repairs is essential if you want to minimize production downtime. Having this support available 24/7 will have a cost implication but you will probably be able to justify that expenditure if you know how much downtime is costing you.
A good training program will help
If you don’t currently have the required expertise available on site amongst your employees that means you will be spending money on outside contractors in order to keep downtime to a minimum.
The long-term solution would be to implement a training program that provides workers with the knowledge and key skills that give them the confidence and ability to deal with a number of problems that could otherwise result in downtime without that intervention.
Take a proactive approach to maintenance
As the saying goes, prevention is often better than the cure, and that’s the case with regard to maintenance.
There is always the temptation to keep everything going until it stops and then repair what breaks, but that is clearly going to result in downtime while you get things fixed.
If you implement a preventative maintenance culture there are a number of benefits attached to this approach.
Preventative maintenance can identify potential problems at an early stage, it increases the life of your machinery, and should reduce the prospect of an unexpected machine failure.
Take a proactive approach to maintenance and you should be rewarded with shorter downtime periods and a potential increase in your machine’s lifespan.
Good communication matters
As well as doing things like employee training and having a preventative maintenance schedule in place, it is also highly relevant to be diligent with your documentation and communication.
Documenting all of your machinery issues, repairs and maintenance is essential and all of this information needs to be relayed to all relevant members of the production team.
Without this commitment to good documentation practices, it could create delays and inefficiencies that could otherwise be avoided.
Seek the opinion of those on the frontline
It can often be the case that the employees who are operating the machinery on a daily basis will have a certain amount of ideas and technical insights that they would be to happy to share if it was going to improve output performance and reduce downtime.
It is for this reason that it makes a lot of sense to invite regular employee input and encourage them to offer their thoughts on what could be done to improve aspects of the process.
Downtime affects the business in a number of different ways and can also have an impact on productivity and profits.
Involving employees in the design and maintenance process is a real no-brainer and by asking for their input you are helping them to feel more invested, plus they could well come up with some ideas that improve productivity.
Your ultimate goal is to have your machinery running continuously without any major problems to contend with, but that is almost impossible to achieve as there are often going to challenges that result in some downtime.
The fundamental object is to keep that downtime to a minimum and by adopting some of these ideas and strategies you might be able to achieve that goal.