Downtime is the scourge of manufacturing facilities worldwide. It causes thousands of headaches and costs businesses billions of dollars each year.
Not all downtime is preventable, but a lot of it is. If you want to prevent unwanted, unanticipated downtime at your facility, here are six ways to reduce downtime in your production process and keep the flow of your facility under control.
Why Does Downtime Matter So Much?
Downtime is when a computer, robot, or piece of equipment is unavailable for use. Downtime is every manufacturing facility’s worst nightmare. It brings production to a screeching halt for an undetermined amount of time and can make a sizeable dent in a business’s bank account.
On average, downtime costs businesses $5,600 a minute and $336,000 per hour. And with most instances of downtime lasting hours and occasionally days, that amounts to millions of dollars lost per incident. “Wow,” you might think, “That’s a huge number. What makes downtime so costly?”
The three main reasons downtime is so costly is because it results in low or nonexistent production output, decreased employee productivity, and a loss of customers. And don’t forget to factor in the costs of repairs!
The effects of downtime don’t happen all at once, either. Unplanned downtime has enduring effects that can haunt a facility for months or even years. When customers feel inconvenienced by downtime, they may choose to take their business elsewhere, which leads to revenue cuts that take a long time to fix.
Planned vs. Unplanned Downtime
You may have heard the terms “planned downtime” and “unplanned downtime” thrown around and wondered, “What’s the difference between them?”
Planned downtime is purposeful. Businesses plan for this kind of downtime days, weeks, and sometimes even months in advance. Many businesses use planned downtime to perform maintenance, handle repairs, and implement changes. It doesn’t have nearly as devastating a financial impact as unplanned downtime because businesses get to choose the time and date it occurs and make accommodations to ensure financial losses are minimal.
However, unplanned downtime is unexpected. It happens suddenly and frequently without warning. When unplanned downtime occurs, managers have to call in professionals to pinpoint the root of the problems and determine how to fix them. In the meantime, it leaves workers with nothing to do but loiter around and wait. Also, it leaves customers baffled, wondering why the company’s website stopped working or why they have to wait longer for their order. Everything is a chaotic mess—and that chaos comes with devastating effects.
How To Reduce Downtime in Your Production Line
Downtime isn’t entirely preventable. Sometimes, equipment breaks, malfunctions, or shuts down for no good reason.
But most of the time, you can prevent downtime or at least minimize its financial impact. You can do this by taking precautionary and preventative actions. Here are six ways to reduce downtime in your production process.
Set Production Goals
How much do you need to produce? You want to run your equipment quickly enough to meet your quotas, but you don’t want it to run too quickly. The harder your equipment works, the faster it wears down over time.
Setting production goals will make it easier to choose the right production speed and schedule maintenance for your facility. This, in turn, will help cut back on instances of unexpected downtime.
Keep Up With Preventative Maintenance
Preventative maintenance can dramatically reduce downtime in your production process. All equipment gradually wears down with time, but by performing recurrent maintenance on your equipment, you can prevent that wear-and-tear from turning into machine failure.
Track Downtime Metrics
But how do you know how often maintenance is required? The manufacturer’s recommendations can give you a general idea, but ultimately, the way you use your equipment determines how quickly it wears down over time. Keep a detailed record of how often things stutter, break, or fail and use it to create a personalized maintenance plan for your facility.
Upgrade Your Equipment
Is your equipment past its prime, outmoded, or on the decline? It may be time to let it retire in peace and hand down its role to newer, hardier machines.
Old machines worked excellently back in their heyday. But after enduring a few years of hard and fast-paced work, they became worn-down and tired. They can’t keep up with the fancy technology of new machines anymore and are more prone to malfunctioning and breaking down—which, of course, leads to downtime.
Replacing old equipment with new equipment requires a substantial investment but can save your facility thousands to millions of dollars in the long run by keeping instances of downtime low.
Train Your Workers
Did you know that 70 percent of downtime comes from user error? There are hundreds of ways to break equipment. Wrong button? Error. Too much clutter on the conveyor? Error. Didn’t calibrate correctly? Error.
To err is to be human, so encountering mistakes every once in a while is inevitable. But untrained workers tend to make considerably more mistakes than trained ones.
Properly training your production line workers can reduce the number of mistakes they make and, consequently, the amount of downtime your facility experiences.
You can also teach your workers how to perform basic maintenance tasks. This way, they can lend a hand when downtime does occur and help get the production line back on track.
Automate Your Processes
Are most of your processes performed manually? Automating them can cut down on downtime. How? Automated machines are far less error-prone than humans. They perform tasks efficiently and consistently. Fewer mistakes mean fewer errors and less downtime.
Automation has other perks on top of downtime reduction. It reduces labor and material costs and enhances the quality of manufactured products.
Are you thinking about optimizing your processes with automation? CSD offers a full range of industrial automation services. Our experienced and knowledgeable team can help you reduce downtime, lower operating costs, and boost productivity with our innovative automated solutions. Contact us today to learn more about our automation services or to discuss a project opportunity.