All it takes is a single part failure or mechanical malfunction to bring your factory operations to a screeching standstill. As soon as production stops, the scramble to set things right begins. Factories without an emergency repair plan in place will quickly find themselves under pressure to remedy the issue. Unfortunately, they may end up costing themselves more than they need to as they scramble for a fix.
The cost of downtime
On the surface, the cost of mechanical downtime is material: the cost of parts and labor. Beyond that, however, there are exponential costs associated with the inoperability of a machine, such as the loss of product, excess wear on peripheral assemblies, and the costs associated with special staffing. The final total is a number that can get very big, very fast.
Now, add unplanned downtime into the mix and those already high costs get even higher! According to research company Aberdeen, unplanned downtime can cost a manufacturer upwards of $260,000 each hour! How? Well, in addition to the usual costs of downtime, manufacturers also have to deal with urgency. Simply put: “No value is being produced, but the cost of overhead operations continues to grow.”
Manufacturers can barely afford scheduled downtime, much less unanticipated downtime brought on by spontaneous equipment failure.
No substitute for a plan
There’s no recouping the full cost of machine downtime, but there are plenty of ways to minimize the total hit to your balance sheet. It starts by having a plan in case the worst happens. Here are a few tips any manufacturer can follow to better prepare for expediting repairs and reducing costs associated with downtime:
- Stock parts and have a method of sourcing them quickly. A well-managed parts inventory enables your repair team to get to work right away, while a strong supplier network ensures you’re getting additional parts and equipment fast.
- Have a training module that details emergency repairs, and delegate roles for support staff in accordance with this module. If and when something goes wrong, everyone will know to respond immediately and accordingly.
- Investigate insurance policies and warranties for equipment, to understand what you’re liable for and what costs you may be able to offset. Staying apprised of these policies also informs good repair decision-making when the time comes.
- Have changeover capacity on standby if possible. Have a plan for adapting operations to accommodate for the loss of particular equipment, so your production doesn’t come to a complete standstill as fixed costs rise.
Every factory’s approach to preparing for unplanned downtime will vary based on equipment, but the principle is the same. Planning for and managing equipment failures effectively is the first and most direct way to mitigate their cost.
Emphasize proactive solutions
Beyond planning for catastrophic equipment failure, factories need to work hard to prevent it. This falls squarely on the shoulders of an effective maintenance, repair, and operations (MRO) strategy. Using modern technologies such as condition monitoring devices and lean practices like preventive maintenance will put manufacturers in a position to avoid unanticipated downtime altogether.
While there’s no stopping mechanical failure entirely, today’s factories need to invest in minimizing it as much as possible. With downtime costs rising and better MRO technology available, all that’s left is the strategic investment from companies that see the bigger picture of just how debilitating downtime is.