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Factory Downtime

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While many managers at manufacturing facilities tend to focus on efficiency and optimization for improved business performance, factory downtime is also an important factor to consider. Factory downtime costs can be significant, as they not only impact the bottom line, but can also affect routine daily processes, with implications for both employees and the machinery on the production floor.

What are the types of downtime in manufacturing?

Production downtime can be either planned or unplanned.

Planned downtime refers to scheduled time periods when machines are not in production. This could be for maintenance of the machinery, including minor adjustments, cleaning, or lubricating certain parts. Another reason for planned downtime may be due to product changeovers when setup and adjustments have to be made to the machinery.

While there are costs associated with planned downtime, with proper planning, these costs can be minimized and budgeted for. Detailed planning, including making sure that all relevant personnel and materials are available and prepared before the scheduled downtime, can make the process run smoothly and minimize the possibilities for running over schedule and budget.

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Unplanned downtime is when an unexpected issue or problem occurs that requires the production process to be stopped, without prior warning. This could be due to machine malfunction, process failures, hardware failures, or human error.

This type of downtime in manufacturing is typically more expensive. Whether due to machine maintenance, a missing operator, or waiting for the proper materials, unplanned downtime can have a real impact on lost production, capacity, and labor and inventory costs. This directly impacts a company’s bottom line due to loss of production and can even add further costs due to unscheduled maintenance and repairs.

There are intangible costs, as well, to unplanned downtime. When a problem occurs unexpectedly, it becomes the top priority for many employees. Not only can this cause stress, but it can also take them away from their other daily tasks that they would otherwise be doing. Frequent occurrences of unplanned downtime can also impact morale and take away from opportunities for innovation. When employees are focused on fixing current problems, they don’t always have the capacity to be thinking creatively about future opportunities.

Equipment downtime is important to consider, even for unplanned circumstances. A comprehensive, detailed equipment downtime analysis can help manufacturing companies better plan and optimize their operations and more accurately calculate OEE (overall equipment effectiveness). Paying attention to rates such as machine availability, as well as deploying computer-integrated manufacturing can help manufacturers plan for factory downtime – whether planned or unplanned – in a smart, data-driven way. 

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