Manufacturing Downtime Reduction

November 17, 2018


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Any unplanned event that might halt the production process or take out machineries out of operation for any length of time can be defined as ‘downtime’. These can occur due to a myriad of reasons: system malfunction, system operator error, poor maintenance of machineries, hardware error or software error. All of this may lead to poor performance, slow changeover and eventually, halt production indefinitely. They impact company schedules, reputation, innovation and overall profit potential. Needless to say, such incidents are huge setbacks for companies, as they drain resources, time, manpower and ultimately, progress. It is estimated that ‘downtime’ sap companies of billions of dollars in revenue each year.

In-depth analysis:

Also we have what is called a ‘planned downtime’. These include instances of software upgrade, hardware installation and maintenance. These are planned and controlled so they do not affect downtime costs. While the financial loss can be quantified there are other areas that are affected more by downtime. The resources allocated to maintenance and repair, potential lost business opportunities and operational assets that become useless in case of a downtime. For instance, a company might have talented IT individuals working for them in online marketing. But even in a small case of downtime, say maybe the router broke down; these individuals are rendered useless. These are referred to as True Downtime Cost (TDC). Furthermore, there are some losses that cannot be quantified. When the cogs of the system are not operational, they affect the productivity of the people, which in turn affect their mentality, innovation and ultimately, stagger company growth in the long run.

The solution:

There are numerous ways to check downtime, but the first step is to motivate, inspire and create the perfect atmosphere to achieve productivity. Increased staff communication will help to keep personnel on their feet and reduce downtime in manufacturing settings. A strong foundation is as essential as motivated employees. It will help the company to grow and expand while increasing efficiency and reducing downtime. Performing regular audits help to weed out potentially obsolete machineries and instruments, which could pose a serious risk of downtime. Setting specific goals for manufacturing units also affect the downtime. However, in spite of all these measures, if a manufacturing unit is affected by downtime, the best solution is to have a system in place that can monitor and track the extent of the downtime, while also providing solutions to curb it.

Downtime tracking:

Downtime tracking systems can track machines and instruments and analyze their potential in case of a downtime. Think of it as an audit that can be performed every day, without the involvement of personnel. These systems are usually fully automated and can keep you up-to-date on the condition of systems, their efficiency and when to perform maintenance to reduce production downtime. They provide real-time tracking of production lines, keeping you in the know. These downtime monitoring and tracking software can be installed on your smartphone or any other similar devices and thus the tracking can be done remotely.

The future is here:

These software programs provide 24/7 monitoring of the production processes and reports on all kinds of problems or drawbacks immediately. They are virtual watchdogs that provide preventive mechanisms and alert you to any potential threats to the manufacturing process. Alerts and progress data are helpful tools but not when they are too difficult to understand or work upon. To eradicate such problems, these software programs also provide color-coded alerts so you don’t have to be bogged down by intricate data and can dive right into the middle of the action. The market offers numerous programs with a variety of features and advantages. So, managers have to look for the best and choose that is also a difficult task. So, while choosing the best Downtime Software for easy and effective monitoring of Manufacturing Downtime managers should know what to look for.

Features to look for:

1. User friendly:

If a software is too difficult to operate then its purpose is already defeated. Therefore, managers should look for a system that is easy to operate and understand.

2. Remotely accessible:

When trouble comes to visit, it usually doesn’t knock. The system should be equipped with features that make it remotely accessible from anywhere. Managers should be able to access it on the go and can track manufacturing downtime on devices like smartphones and tablets.

3. Easy to understand data representation:

As mentioned earlier, programs should provide color-coded data representation so that even novice users can understand the problem and get to its roots.

4. Historical data representation:

Monitoring can be done best with historical data. Managers can analyze the efficiency and performance of their machines and instrument using these data.

5. Identification of the cause of downtime:

Downtime software should not only be able to identify a downtime event but also be able to identify the cause of it, so that proper actions can be taken immediately.

6. Provide statistics:

Statistics helps to identify the productivity killers. Downtime software must be able to judge productivity on specific parameters so as to help manager to go for a planned downtime when it is required.