5 Steps to Avoid Unplanned Downtime and Breakdowns

Avoid Downtime and Breakdowns

Unexpected facility disruptions and equipment failures are a major headache in this industry. When your equipment goes down, you lose money. Yes, We are dedicated to getting you back up and running. But we are also committed to helping your business remain up and running. This is why we have gathered our top 5 strategies you can implement to reduce unexpected breakdowns.

1. Scheduled Maintenance

Just because your equipment is categorized as “industrial equipment”, that does not mean it is going to last forever. However, by scheduling maintenance for your equipment on a regular basis, you can greatly increase the lifespan of your machines. Not only will it extend the life of your equipment, but it will also reduce the probability of failures & downtime,  increase equipment effectiveness, improve safety, and increase total productivity in the long run. 

We recommend having a highly-skilled, trusted and reliable go-to repair facility for all of your equipment. Having a go-to on hand will eliminate the time spent looking for a repair service facility when you need it most. It will also ease your mind knowing that your equipment is in good hands and it isn’t a guessing game whether or not they provide quality work. If you are unsure how to approach the selection of the right partner in repair services, check out this article.

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2. Equipment Upgrades

While upgrading your equipment can be a big investment, it can definitely be a worthwhile investment by aiding in increased efficiency and productivity. It is important to keep up with the current technology in your industry and you should always be aware of which of your machines are becoming obsolete. Obsolete equipment can be very expensive to keep up with because available resources are limited. It can cause long lead times for repairs and technical support services.

You should also know your options when it comes to your equipment. Old machines do not always need to be replaced completely. Instead, it can be very worth your time and money to look into retrofitting options for your equipment. Sometimes just bringing your equipment up to date makes a world of difference. 

3. Back-Ups

This is one of the simplest methods of avoiding downtime and yet so many companies do not follow this approach. If you do end up having a breakdown, having backups of your units will keep things up and running while the broken unit is sent in for repairs. No downtime, no waiting, and no scrambling to find a new unit.

Having backups will also allow you to stick with your regularly scheduled maintenance plan that we mentioned at the top of this list. As one unit is being serviced the other one can be used in its place and therefore eliminating wasted production time. 

Lastly, when we say backups, we don’t just mean back up components. We are also referring to performing backups of your parameters, software programs, PLCs, etc. The worst thing that could happen is that your equipment goes down and while you have a spare unit and you have no parameters or program to use it with. What do you do? You can contact the OEM for a replacement but what if that OEM is no longer in business or doesn’t have exactly what you need? Rewriting this information can be time-consuming and you are still stuck with lost production time. 

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4. Proper Storage

As we mentioned above, having spare units is incredibly handy for keeping your business up and running. However, storing those spares is a whole nother issue. Many put their spare units on a shelf somewhere on the production floor and they just sit there until they are needed. This is a bad practice! When it comes time to needing these spares, they no longer run because they have been damaged by a number of different factors that come from not being properly stored. 

What are those factors you ask? Moisture, heat, corrosion, oxidation, excessive vibration from production, excessive dirt/debris build-up, etc. If you are going to invest in spare parts to keep your business up and running, it is just as important to invest the time and money into storing them properly. Otherwise, your investment will be useless.

Here are some proper storage basics:

  • Moisture Vapor Barrier Bags or vacuum-sealed bags to keep as much moisture and air out.
  • Storing equipment at a cool and consistent temperature. Most units should be stored somewhere between 60º-70º, but it is always best to reference the user manual to make sure.
  • Separate storage areas away from the production floor. This is helpful in reducing the amount of dirt/debris or moisture comes into contact with the spare units. Separate storage areas also aid in reducing the amount of floor vibration.
  • Monitor the units being stored every month or two. This way you will be able to spot and of the problem factors, we mentioned above before you go to use it.

5. Using a TPM strategy and knowing your OEE

What is TPM you ask? TPM stands for “Total Productive Maintenance” and it is a system of maintaining the integrity of your production quality through every channel that adds value to your company such as your machines, employees, processes, etc. This TPM strategy focuses on eight pillars that will increase your productivity:

  • Autonomous Maintenance
  • Focused Improvement
  • Planned Maintenance
  • Quality management
  • Early/equipment management
  • Education and Training
  • Safety Health Environment
  • Administrative & office

The main objective of the TPM strategy is to increase your company’s Overal Equipment Effectiveness, also known as OEE. So how are you supposed to know what your OEE is? Your OEE takes 3 areas into account:

  • Performance – (how fast your machine is running)
  • Availability – (breakdowns & product changeovers)
  • Quality – (amount of good parts produced. I.e. no rejects or item defects)

To calculate, 

PERFORMANCE % X AVAILABILITY % X QUALITY % = OEE

As an example, let’s say your facility has 82% performance, 90% availability, and 92% quality. At face value, it appears that you are doing decently well in all areas. However, when calculating:

0.82 0.90 0.92 = 0.68 = 68%

Your Overal Equipment Effectiveness is actually only at 68%. This will help you see a better view of your shortfalls within your production processes and in your equipment. If you now look at your machine performance as your weakest link instead of being decent, you know that you should be implementing different strategies and/or installing new equipment to help increase your business productivity. 

There you have it, our top 5 ways to avoid downtime in manufacturing. By incorporating and investing in these 5 methods, we are sure you will be more than pleased with your business production results as well as experience fewer headaches.

At Precision Zone, we guide our clients toward the best decisions that serve their business needs. If you have specific repair or replacement questions, get in touch with our expert customer support team at 800-551-4420 or repair@precisionzone.com.

Written by:

Marketing & Creative Director at IcarTeam, and supporting afiliated businesses,
including Precision Zone, Precision Education Integrators and Alfra Tools.
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