There are few words that make a manufacturing business owner cringe in pain quite as bad as ‘downtime’ does. The idea that no work is being done, no progress is being made towards goals. The bottlenecks that develop, the return on investment lost. It just can’t be abided. So, it’s time to identify the greatest causes of downtime and what you can do to eliminate it.
Those crucial skills are gone
It might be due to illness, it might be because of personal leave, or that someone has quit. If you haven’t prepared for how the business continues when certain skillsets aren’t there, temporarily or permanently, it can put down a real barrier to productivity. You should always have the means to replace someone’s skills at short notice. Whether that’s hiring temps or cross-training, you can’t allow any one person to become indispensable to the business.
When machines fail
Overall equipment effectiveness is a model that makes the goal of the manufacturer to have every piece of equipment on the floor running at all times. The more time any one machine has problems, the further you get from that goal. Reaching that goal needs a multipronged strategy. It needs a close relationship with parts suppliers like Pirtek, not only to make use of emergency repair services but to stay stocked in the essential parts that are most likely to need replacing. It also needs the operators to be involved in routine maintenance of the machines as often as possible. Any planned downtime should be spent optimizing the equipment the business relies on.
The health and safety crises
An accident in the workplace is going to shut down productivity in all kinds of ways. You have someone who needs time off to take care of themselves, for one. But you also have the investigations into either the machinery or the work practices that led to the accident themselves. All in all, it takes way too much focus away from the business of manufacturing. That’s why regular risk assessments, training, and looking after your employees is so essential. Accidents will happen, but the less, the better. You can even incentivize immaculate safety records with annual financial rewards. People are already concerned with their own safety, but using the carrot instead of the stick can make them doubly careful.
You don’t have what you need
It’s not as serious as a health and safety failure, but running out of stock can definitely be a panic-ridden time for a manufacturing business. The key is to manage both the relationship with suppliers as well as your own expectations. Getting to know your sales cycle and performing accurate demand estimations is essential. But sometimes the issue isn’t that you don’t bring enough in to deal with demand, but that suppliers cannot provide enough. This is why in-depth communication with suppliers, getting to know the risks to their own supply, is crucial. You need to know when you need to have a backup prepared.
There’s always going to be some risk of downtime and some loss of productivity. However, besides reducing the risk, by preparing for it, you make it easier to spot workarounds and backups, as well as recovery plans. In preventing and tackling the issue, you have to be prepared for it from every angle.