The Top 6 Secrets to Minimizing Equipment Downtime

Downtime is defined as any unexpected pause or interruption during the production process. While downtime can occur due to a variety of reasons and root causes, like technical issues or equipment breakdown, it can cause a major disruption in operations and result in lost revenue. If unplanned downtime occurs frequently enough, it could negatively impact lead times, changeover, inventory planning, labor efficiency, cycle times and more. 

You can effectively prevent equipment downtime by employing a variety of proactive measures. The key is investing some initial effort and planning to ensure your machinery and equipment are in proper working condition for the best chance of uptime success. Below are six proven strategies to help you reduce costly equipment downtime. 

1. Conduct Regular Risk Audits

Most maintenance teams seldom conduct regular risk audits. However, to lower your equipment downtime rates, carrying out scheduled risk audits is absolutely critical.

Risk audits are important because they can help you discover which of your machines are obsolete or prone to equipment failure. For instance, if one of your machines is a quarter of a century old, its restoration to proper working condition could require extended planned downtime in the future..

Moreover, the company that manufactured the machine may no longer support your aging system, making acquiring spare parts very difficult. You can consider such a machine obsolete when the time and money it would cost to replace it is more than the cost of acquiring new equipment. 

Risk audits also help you discover whether you have any obsolete machinery that jeopardizes the safety and well-being of your maintenance staff. This helps to lower expenses associated with disaster recovery. 

2. Check Your Data

Most production tracking systems can help show the frequency of unexpected downtime. However, to prevent such occurrences in the future, you need to figure out the reason behind each downtime event, predict when it may happen next, record its cost and institute a preventative maintenance strategy from there. 

To do all this, you must have actionable data and metrics to leverage. This is why you should have a central hub where you record details about anything related to real-time machine downtime on your production line, such as: 

  • Noticing an underperforming asset
  • Servicing a machine part
  • Ordering spare parts

You should use a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) to do this accurately. Such a program can predict when a machine will likely break down again and offer timely alerts to help you prevent downtime and augment tracking equipment downtime overall. Furthermore, your CMMS can ensure that your team accesses relevant documentation at a central location and always follows the correct maintenance protocols.  

3. Have a Preventive Maintenance Plan for All Equipment

A preventative maintenance plan helps to reduce unscheduled downtime and save your maintenance team time. Predictive maintenance could help you catch issues before they cause equipment breakdown, allowing you to order spares, place work orders, conduct routine maintenance and update your equipment maintenance schedule during intentionally planned downtime. This ensures you save on production losses, overtime compensation and priority shipping costs as it relates to every piece of equipment on your floor.

4. Train Your Team Properly

One of the most important aspects of minimizing downtime is ensuring that each of your staff members fully understands what is expected of them via a well thought out training program. It is a good practice to ensure that each of your maintenance workers is comfortable performing maintenance on each piece of machinery and spending the appropriate amount of time on retraining and continuing education when necessary. This way, critical asset management will always stay a priority.

5. Calculate Your Downtime Expenses

Knowing your true cost of downtime is a game-changer when it comes to understanding ways to mitigate future issues. To get an accurate figure, you should measure several factors, including: 

  • Employee labor hours consumed fixing the issue, including overtime
  • Loss of goods during production time
  • Spare parts and cost of shipping
  • The opportunity cost of other things your crew may have been working on

6. Find A Partner You Can Trust

Minimizing costly downtime is one way to ensure that your company maximizes profits, streamlines workflows and remains competitive. If you’re looking for a partner you can trust to move the needle on your uptime goals, AMBROSE can help you implement several mechanisms to ensure your machinery experiences less unplanned downtime for continued production and business success. Contact us today to learn more.