Downtime is a big problem for manufacturing companies and it can cost you a lot of money. If your manufacturing operation has a very high output, even a small amount of downtime can put you very far behind.
That means that you will miss deadlines for your customers and you could lose a serious amount of money, so you need to find ways to reduce downtime as much as you can. In some cases, you will need to carry out routine maintenance and you cannot really avoid shutting your operation down for a short period.
But a lot of downtimes are caused by errors on the part of your employees or faults in the manufacturing equipment, and those things can be avoided if you change your practices.
These are the best ways to reduce downtime in your manufacturing operation.
#1 Keep Equipment Updated
Manufacturing equipment is incredibly expensive and you can’t always afford to buy brand-new machines. Buying used machines is fine as long as you source them from a reliable seller and keep on top of maintenance, but you need to make sure that they are relatively modern.
If your equipment is decades old, it is far more likely to break down on a regular basis. Older machines may be harder to fix and it might take longer to source the parts if modern machines work in a different way.
When buying machinery, you should prioritize the most outdated equipment first and replace it before adding it to your manufacturing operation. Also, buying quality products is an important factor! No matter if its something simple like a commercial electric mixer, or something advanced like a 3D printer, purchasing equipment that is of high-quality ensures the product is likely to last.
Investing in modern equipment is one of the best ways to improve efficiency in manufacturing and reduce downtime as well, so it should always be a priority for you.
#2 Invest In Monitoring Systems
If there are small issues in your manufacturing equipment, you need to deal with them right away before they cause costly breakdowns, but a lot of manufacturing companies fail to identify those small problems until it is too late.
The best way around that is to invest in Andon Systems which monitors your equipment and flags up any malfunctions right away. You can also implement manual systems for identifying problems so that if your employees notice anything out of the ordinary, they can raise the issue immediately.
These monitoring systems are absolutely vital because they improve your ability to carry out preventative maintenance and get equipment back up and running straight away.
#3 Conduct Regular Maintenance
Manufacturing machinery is very complex and it has a lot of moving parts that need to be maintained properly if they are going to work properly.
Carrying out regular maintenance like oiling the moving parts and checking for general wear and tear is so important. If you can stay on top of that maintenance and replace parts before they cause a problem, you can avoid any major breakdowns.
#4 Improve Staff Communication
The staff that is working on the floor and operating these machines on a daily basis have the best idea of how they are working.
They are the people that will notice whether a machine is working differently from normal or if it is in need of an upgrade. But if you don’t have good communication with your employees, you won’t be aware of these potential issues until they cause a big problem.
It’s important that your employees understand the impact that downtime has on the finances of the business and how they can help to reduce it. You also need to have regular meetings with your floor staff so you can get an update on how everything is working and whether there are any problems that you need to be aware of.
During these meetings, you can also take ideas on ways to improve productivity and efficiency in your manufacturing operation.
#5 Invest In Regular Staff Training
Staying on top of equipment maintenance and flagging problems early on is a very important part of reducing downtime, but you need to think about the human error as well.
If your employees are making costly mistakes, it may be down to a lack of training. So many businesses make the mistake of training employees when they first start with the company, but they don’t offer regular refresher sessions.
People get into bad habits over time and they may start to take shortcuts, so it’s important to invest in regular staff training sessions so everybody knows exactly what is expected of them.
It’s especially important that you invest in training whenever you implement new equipment because even though it may operate in a very similar way to your old equipment, there will always be a few differences. As long as you invest heavily in training, you can reduce the chances of downtime caused by human error.
#6 Track Downtime Properly
Regardless of the changes that you make, downtime is still going to be a problem sometimes and you can’t always avoid it. But it’s very important that you track downtime properly and understand the reasons behind it.
For example, if downtime is always caused by a breakdown in a particular machine, it might be the case that you need to replace it. However, if the issue is always caused by something that could have been avoided by proper maintenance, you know that you need to change your maintenance schedule. I
f the equipment is running fine but the employees that are operating it are making mistakes on a regular basis, you know that training and procedure is a problem.
Whenever you have to shut your manufacturing operation down for any reason, it’s important that you log it and investigate the reasons behind it. This will allow you to identify recurring problems and deal with them so you can reduce downtime in the future.
If you cannot find ways to reduce downtime and improve efficiency in your manufacturing business, you will sustain big losses that could threaten the future of the company.
What are you doing to reduce downtime in your business?