When production comes to a halt it’s one of the biggest “Red Alerts” in any factory. When a plant is experiencing downtime it means orders aren’t being filled and staff are idle waiting on the problem to get corrected. And each minute that production is down, costs are skyrocketing.
The average manufacturer has to deal with approximately 800 hours of downtime a year. A full 82 percent of companies have dealt with unexpected downtime within the past three years to the tune of up to $260,000 per hour in lost revenue.
This makes reducing downtime a high priority and one that can save companies millions of dollars per year. By taking some proactive steps with preventative maintenance measures and choosing materials the are less problematic to factory processes, you can significantly cut your downtime and the associated costs.
Tips for Reducing Downtime in Your Plant
1. Cross-Train Employees
When a person in a key position is out sick, it can mean that those taking over their duties might not have all the knowledge they need to avoid mistakes. Manufacturing has become more sophisticated over the years with the connection of technology throughout multiple processes. This means that taking time to properly cross-train employees is vital to mitigating problems that can occur when someone is out or leaves the company.
Cross-training offers a few different benefits
- Ensures equipment is run correctly if you’re short-handed in that position
- Gives you more “hands on deck” overcoming challenges for a particular process
- Mitigates the risk of downtime from improper equipment handling
- Gives you more ability to rotate and fully utilize your team
2. Invest in the Right Materials
Are you choosing parts that are cheaper to purchase, but end up costing you more because they break unexpectedly? Have you resigned yourself to corrosion that’s caused by certain types of insulation, simply because you haven’t had time to research a better way?
Investing in products that reduce the risk of downtime will end up saving you money over the long run and improve equipment lifespan. A good example of products that will help reduce factory downtime in a few different ways are Synavax™ Heat Shield™ thermal insulation coatings for pipes, tanks, boilers, ovens, and multiple other heat process equipment
Synavax™ coatings help mitigate plant downtime because:
- They’re resistant to moisture, dust, and dirt infiltration, so they last… and provide consistent performance for a decade or more
- They prevent corrosion of equipment surfaces
- They can be applied while equipment is in service
- Their surface protection qualities can increase asset lifespan
3. Use Sensor Monitoring Systems
Often the right sensor monitoring systems can alert you to anomalies in your production line that predict a potential failure if an issue isn’t addressed. Sensors are fairly inexpensive and can detect inputs like vibration, temperature, heat and light – conditions that are likely to cause equipment damage or failures.
Sensors can also be programmed so that they send alerts to maintenance personnel to ensure preventative maintenance is being completed on schedule and utilizing best practices.
4. Back Up Control Systems
You may keep backup parts on hand, but what if the software running a process is damaged or deleted? Technology is a big part of what keeps production going and that means use of Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) systems that monitor input devices and make decisions based upon them for commanding outputs. That all runs on software that should be regularly backed up to reduce downtime in the event it’s accidentally lost or corrupted.
5. Take a Proactive Approach
It’s easy to put off preventative maintenance when things are going fine and you’re busy just trying to keep up with customer orders. But being reactive (i.e. “run it until it breaks”) instead of proactive can cost you dearly in downtime costs.
Many companies adopt a Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) approach which has a goal for:
- No breakdowns
- No small stoppages or slowdowns
- No defects
- No accidents
The way that goal is achieved is by being proactive about any potential problems before they can occur. This includes maximizing equipment lifespan, running risk assessments, and empowering employees to contribute to the overall TPM goals.