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Production downtime — where to look for their causes?

According to a report prepared by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), more than 40% of enterprises that have experienced a major accident do not “recover” again. Length of downtime is critical to the survival of an organization. What are the most common causes of industrial failures and what damage can they cause?

Unplanned downtime affects the business continuity of an industrial enterprise, causing not only large financial losses, but also affecting the company’s reputation and the trust of its customers.

Common causes

Calculating production downtime is critical. To minimize overall losses and reduce costs, first identify the root cause of downtime. Although we are not always able to prevent them, it is possible to effectively reduce their impact on the company’s operations. One of the key issues in reducing the risk of production downtime is establishing clear communication practices and regularly maintaining tools and equipment.

The most important causes of downtime are:

  1. Inadequate layout of the production space
    The efficiency of production largely depends on how the various machines, production equipment and the employees who support them are located in the plant. Only a properly planned installation can ensure a fast and smooth flow of material from raw material to the final product. Wasting a few seconds moving from one place to another may not seem like a big deal at first, but over time it will make it very difficult to perform surgery. Therefore, to maximize efficiency, it is necessary to properly plan the production space.
  2. Communication gap between teams
    If employees do not have clearly defined work instructions, there is a good chance that communication barriers will arise due to problems with the flow of key messages. That is why regular meetings with engineers, draftsmen and production managers are so important, during which clear instructions are presented, perfectly understandable by all parties, even before the elements they design reach the assembly line. Support in solving communication problems within the company is also the digitization of production plants, which not only improves fluidity and increases the speed of information flow, but above all gives the possibility of making decisions in real time and based on up-to-date data, as well as maintaining constant contact between all employees throughout time to change them.
  3. Employee tool sharing
    Employees’ use of shared tools may, at first glance, seem like a good idea for the company to generate additional savings. However, in the long run, this approach can be very costly. If production workers take turns sharing tools or equipment, there is a high probability that they will make mistakes in the production process, as well as delays, resulting from, among others, the necessity to look for or pick up instruments from other employees, breaks due to their insufficient number and the inability to move on to the next work stages, etc. Therefore, errors of the kind that reduce costs only in the short term should be avoided.
  4. Breaks
    One of the important causes of downtime may also be the unjustified absence of an operator from his position, which may cause work stoppage and failure of the production line to run smoothly until his return or another employee is posted.
  5. Machine failures
    It is not possible for all machines in an industrial plant to run smoothly, 24 hours a day. Therefore, they should undergo regular maintenance. In the event of equipment failure, maintenance can take hours, days, or even weeks. According to the study by M. Cichoń and S. Walecko entitled “The use of selected tools to analyze the causes of machine failure in a production company” (source: ptzp.org.pl), the four main factors that generate them are:
    — excessive wear and lack of timely tool changes,
    — omissions by employees, which may result, among others, from due to fatigue or lack of knowledge about operating the machine,
    — failure of sensors responsible for early detection of inconsistencies,
    — too infrequent machine inspections.

Actual costs

As a result of unplanned downtime, no value is produced, but overhead costs continue to rise, directly affecting the bottom line. According to a 2017 study by the research firm Aberdeen Research, 82% of companies have experienced unplanned downtime in the last three years, and the average cost to a company is $ 260,000 an hour!

At the same time, according to the report “Failure Analysis Market by Equipment — Forecast to 2025”, prepared by the analytical company MarketsandMarkets, it is estimated that the market development focused on failure analysis amounted to USD 3.9 billion in 2020 and it is expected that in Within 5 years, it will reach the level of USD 5.9 billion. With the development of failure identification tools, their prediction and analysis has become easier, and the increased use of technology drives the market for their testing.

FitMech is one of the companies that contributes to the development of this market, and on the other hand, supports industrial enterprises in reducing the number of downtimes. The system created by a team of engineers allows you to control the amount of machine working time, determines the number of cycles and their length, analyzes the quality of work performed by specific machines, as well as the efficiency of employees on a specific shift. All this data is provided in real time.

At the same time, thanks to a simple application, operators can mark downtime on an ongoing basis, verify which of them occur most often or last the longest, control the time of planned downtime, such as retooling or machine calibration, as well as increase factory efficiency by eliminating the causes of failure.

Get in touch with our team and find out more about the opportunities we can offer your company!

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