How To Avoid Machine Downtime

Machine downtime in any manufacturing capacity is a potentially dangerous and costly situation. It goes without saying; machine downtime affects your business’s bottom line. Minimizing this machine downtime will ensure efficiency, as in turn will ensure that the machinery will remain profitable.

What is “Downtime” Exactly?

Downtime, for the purpose of this article, is simply an unscheduled stoppage of machinery production due to some type of unexpected event, which lasts longer than five minutes. The exact definition of downtime can vary case by case, which is important to understand as downtime in one industry may be acceptable, while in others being catastrophic.

Steps to Avoiding Unscheduled Downtime

The following list is critical in helping to avoid downtime. Read through it, apply what you can and modify what you need; you will be able to reduce your overall downtime by doing so.

1) Tracking Downtime

As a template, use the following headings for tracking each occurrence of downtime:

  • Time & Date of Stoppage
  • Problem
  • Reason
  • Total Downtime

Collecting data: on any downtime is the first step in helping to prevent downtime. Tracking downtime gives you data to analyse for any patterns or common causes that will help give you some hints as to where to further explore causes of downtime.

Find Patterns: During this phase it’s critical that all downtime is accurately tracked, as well as categorized with reasons for the problem. As more downtime occurs, you will be able to look at this data and see patterns on where to place your improvement efforts. For example, if user error is accounting for over half of all stoppages, you can easily see where to prioritize your efforts.

2) Employee Training 

One of the top causes of downtime is user error

Employee Training and Retraining Programs: Quality programs can go far beyond simple courses, and include such things as sending top employees to seminars/workshops, or other educational opportunities; rewarding good work with more responsibility and knowledge, not only allowing for your staff to be well trained, but also give them more opportunity for advancement.

3) Employee Input

Empower: The employees are on the front line of production, so it would be foolish to ignore suggestions or observations regarding machine downtime. By allowing all employees an opportunity for input, not only are you able to uncover new problems, and ways to overcome these problems, but you are also empowering and involving your employees. This action will not only help them feel more valued at work, but will also give them more of an incentive to work towards the same goals of reduced downtime, as they will feel more responsible for it.

4) Scheduled Maintenance

Safety: Regular scheduled maintenance of equipment is a critical component to ensuring to prevent unexpected downtime, especially as it relates to equipment failure and employee safety. A single accident on the workshop floor can put major downtime, and liability, on the company as a whole. Having a preventative scheduled maintenance schedule will not only help to combat breakdowns, but will make for a safer working environment for your employees.

Continue reading about the Benefits of Scheduled Preventative Maintenance.

5) Evaluate & Improve Processes

Routine: Having a semi-annual evaluation of downtime reduction, and downtime reduction processes will ensure that your company is always improving and looking for new ways to boost efficiency and the overall bottom line. Always looking to collect data, measure, compare, and improve will ensure that your company efficiency will improve year over year, while decreasing downtime.