Five ways to minimise manufacturing downtime

No matter what you're making, you'll want to keep equipment failure or downtime to a minimum.

Time is money, and in an industry already stretched thin by the economy, the difference equipment reliability makes to a company's bottom line is more important than ever.

In this short but informative post at Manufacturing Business Technology, Tom Bonine, the president of the US-based National Metal Fabricators group, has outlined his top five tips on how to minimise downtime and keep profits flowing:

1) Update or service the machinery

“Regular maintenance is important, as is installing new equipment,” Bonine writes.

Highlighting the “huge negative impact” that faulty equipment can have on the bottom line, Bonine marks new technology and constant improvements as key to staying on top of costs.

2) Explain downtime to employees

While it's important to make these improvements, their full impact might not be realised if employees aren't part of the process.

“If a supervisor explains the relationship between downtime and business profits, then employees feel part of the team, included in decisions, and important — all of which are key to increasing productivity,” Bonine writes.

“Employees may also have suggestions about how to limit downtime, increase morale, better service machines and produce more goods.”

3) Regular evaluations

Once the right equipment and processes are in place, making sure workers know their strengths and weaknesses will also help each business run as best it can.

Here Bonine stresses the importance of highlighting what's working and what isn't with each employee, and keeping these talks private yet “honest and straightforward”.

4) Monitor the efficiency of the manufacturing process

Quite often it might be outside problems that causes a slowdown in your group or business.

To keep these problems to a minimum, Bonine recommends managers audit all parts of the manufacturing process to make sure items are made efficiently.

5) Establish specific incentives and goals

While it might seem natural to penalise parts of the business performing poorly, Bonine says the emphasis ought to be placed on the other side of the equation.

“Better that appropriate incentives and realistic goals motivate employees,” he writes.

“Praising departments when they reach certain goals and keeping employees updated on productivity numbers help minimise downtime.”

This post is a summary of a longer article on Manufacturing Business Technology. To read the full article, click here.