How to Reduce Manufacturing Downtime With a Preventative Approach

As manufacturers face an unprecedented loss of up to $260,000 per hour through unplanned downtime they go in search of tools to reduce their manufacturing downtime. One effective solution being the implementation of a preventative maintenance strategy.

With a proactive maintenance system in place, businesses that rely on the production of their fixed assets can find ways to keep costs down. With 88% of companies realising the potential that a preventative maintenance strategy has to eliminate unplanned downtime.

Downtime in Manufacturing

Downtime is, essentially, when a piece of equipment or machinery is not in operation. For instance, a manufacturer may stop production to carry out maintenance and repairs on machinery to help improve performance. This kind of downtime can be harmless, and can even be necessary.

What is the Cost of Manufacturing Downtime?

But, not all types of downtime is advantageous. Instead of upgrades and scheduled maintenance, downtime can be caused by a number of unexpected errors. This is when a system fails to provide or perform its primary function, known as unplanned downtime.

Unplanned downtime can be the result of a number of factors in an asset-intensive organization. It could be caused by an operating error, poor maintenance, or even a software bug.

Looking for CMMS Software?

Compare the best maintenance management systems. For FREE.

Search CMMS Software »

The Cost of Manufacturing Downtime

To understand just how damaging unplanned downtime can be, a 2016 study of offshore oil and gas organizations highlighted an average annual loss of $38 million due to unplanned downtime. With the worst impact costing upwards of $88 million.

In 2018 an Aberdeen Research study estimated that the cost of unplanned downtime across all businesses had risen 60% in just two years, from $164,000 per hour to $260,000. With 82% of companies also experiencing at least one case of unplanned downtime between 2015 and 2018.

Ultimately, 46% of companies couldn’t deliver the services they promised to customers.
What is Downtime in Manufacturing?
Modern manufacturers tend to rely heavily on a production line of automated machinery to produce finished goods. The mass production of discounted raw materials keeps labour costs to a minimum while gaining higher profit margins. But, with such a heavy reliance on automated equipment and machinery, the risk of falling foul to unplanned downtime can increase.

A company that experienced this first-hand was Simons Feed Ingredients (SFI), a manufacturer of animal nutrition. During a period of unscheduled downtime, due to a change of machinery lubrication oils, they were forced to sell their perishable ingredients to customers at a reduced cost to avoid expiration.

However, there are a number of opportunities available to manufacturers to help keep unexpected costs low. This includes digitalised maintenance through a Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS).

Deploying Preventive Maintenance to Reduce Manufacturing Downtime

There are a variety of options for manufacturers to overcome unscheduled outages in the production line, including performing lengthy risk audits and educated employees. But one of the most effective and recognisable is preventative maintenance.

Preventive maintenance, or preventative maintenance, falls between a reactive maintenance approach and a predictive one. Essentially, it is the process of regularly performing checks on equipment to reduce the likelihood of failure. This type of maintenance is performed while equipment is still in working order, with the aim to identify and prevent downtime before it happens.

In the case of SFI, the company changed its maintenance program from reactive to preventive. This meant that instead of waiting until equipment failed to then fix it, which resulted in unscheduled downtime while waiting for spare parts, its newly formed maintenance schedule subsequently eliminated costly downtime. So much so, that SFI now acquires perishable goods from its competitors at a discounted price.

As well as requiring careful planning and scheduling of equipment maintenance, the aim of effective preventative maintenance is to also keep accurate records of past inspections and services. However, this process can be very complex and time-consuming for a manufacturer with a lot of equipment to record manually. Instead, a CMMS software solution can be implemented to perform automated data collection and planning maintenance schedules.

With 81% of businesses believing that a digital tool can completely eliminate unplanned downtime, it is hard to look beyond a CMMS solution.

By using a digital application, manufacturers can efficiently gather the essential information that is needed to keep all equipment in working order.

Types of Preventative Maintenance

A preventive maintenance schedule can be based on two factors; either a time-based or usage-based alert system.

A time-based preventive maintenance schedule will perform regular alerts as to when a certain piece of equipment needs an inspection. Whereas a usage-based schedule will trigger an alert after a certain amount of time, production cycles or miles.

For example, a service check may be scheduled on a fleet vehicle every 10,000 miles. Or, a lubrication check may be required on a CNC milling machine every 100 hours.

Preventive maintenance schedules can also include cleaning, adjustments, repairs, servicing, oil changes or a complete replacement.

With a preventive maintenance program in place, an effective solution to reducing unplanned downtime can begin. Work orders can be created through scheduled time-based or usage-based alerts and maintenance KPIs can be set through gathering data and analysing performance reports.

Finding a CMMS to Reduce Manufacturing Downtime

Modern businesses experience average loses up to $260,000 per hour and damaging equipment outages resulting in a loss of production. But, there is proof that through effective data gathering and reliable maintenance software, manufacturers can begin the process of eliminating unplanned downtime expenditures.

With the ability to gather vital data, CMMS software presents itself as the ideal solution for most manufacturers. Not only this but advanced capabilities found in modern CMMS solutions, such as mobile CMMS through cloud systems, can add much more functionality to any manufacturing organisation.

Finding the Right CMMS to Reduce Manufacturing Downtime