A manufacturing process is, more often than not, only as efficient as its machines. So when something goes wrong those machines, the efficiency of your process is going to crash. Of course, it’s not just the machines you have to worry about – employees can be the cause of downtime, too!
Downtime occurs when an unplanned stop occurs during your production schedule. It’s a gruesome beast that needs to be slain if you want to ensure your manufacturing business can run at its peak. So let’s take a look at the best ways in which you can begin to tackle this problem!
Keep a record of downtime
The importance of this cannot be overstated. (Well, okay, perhaps it can. If you spend all your time recording downtime instead of trying to fix it, then someone has overstated its importance to you!) You’re going to have a difficult time preventing downtime if you’re not sure how it’s happening and for how long your business is being affected by it.
There are ways to implement trackers that will automatically record the downtime of any given machine. You can also ask employees to help by adding downtime occurrences (and their causes) to a database.
No, I’m not talking about training the technology. Your employees, like it or not, are quite possibly the biggest reason for any downtime you might be experiencing! There are two reasons for this. One is the distraction, though this tends to fall into the irritating category of micro-downtimes that basically require the team to be a bit more disciplined. The other reason is human error.
If someone has used a machine incorrectly – have attempted to force something that doesn’t fit, or apply something to an unsuitable material – then downtime is inevitable. Look into more involved training for newcomers. You may even want to consider retraining the old guard!
Calibrate your equipment
Big problems that result in downtime are often the result of lots of little problems all piling together over time. Often, this can be the result of misreadings or inaccurate delivery of temperature, humidity, pressure, or electricity. These are errors in calibration, and they’re alarmingly common in manufacturing processes.
Errors with these settings or readings can be incredibly hard to spot, even if you’ve worked with the machines in question for some time. All of this can result in downtime if you’re not working with the right calibration service.
Ask your employees
Business owners in this field – well, in any field, in fact – often make the mistake of assuming they can figure out the cause of downtime all on their own. Many don’t stop to think that the people who might have the most knowledge about the problem are the employees!
You need to ensure that employee input is encouraged here – and not just now, when problems are occurring, but from now on, to ensure that any potential problems are dealt with as quickly as possible. Make sure your employees know precisely why downtime is so damaging to the business (many of them underestimate the problem) and they’ll be happy to keep a closer eye on things and perhaps even suggest solutions.