Optimize Preventive Maintenance to Reduce Manufacturing Downtime

Feb 23, 2024 4:00:00 PM / by PlantStar Team

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Downtime means money lost for manufacturers. By improving asset management, you can keep your equipment operating at peak efficiency as much as possible. New maintenance technology solutions enable reliability-centered maintenance (RCM) programs, which can be critical pieces of a strategy to meet that objective. By proactively servicing machinery based on real-time insights, manufacturers significantly reduce unexpected downtime, enhance failure analysis, lower maintenance costs, simplify root cause analysis, and maximize overall equipment effectiveness (OEE). Essentially, they greatly strengthen the business.

The High Cost of Downtime

In the manufacturing process, plant equipment is vital but susceptible to wear and tear and other types of damage. When an apparatus breaks down and production lines grind to a halt, your profitability can be seriously undermined. Problems often seem to occur at the most inopportune times, and their repercussions ripple throughout the organization, impacting every associated step in the production process. Supply chains back up, production lines shut down, delivery dates are missed, customer satisfaction drops, and expenses rise. In addition, defective equipment can result in injuries to employees and even damage the planet if hazardous materials spill or leak into the environment.

Since systems go down for numerous reasons, it is impossible to be prepared for every potential situation. As a result, a quick fix may not be likely. Waiting on parts or skilled personnel to address a malfunction can mean the production is offline for hours, days, weeks or longer. This downtime can damage your brand, reduce revenue and profitability, and could even pose an existential threat to your business.

Fortunately, it’s now easier than ever for manufacturers to minimize downtime. New sophisticated technologies like the cloud, the internet of things, and manufacturing execution systems (MES) allow manufacturers to use data analytics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence to see how their equipment is functioning in real time and take steps to extend its life cycle. In this article, we’ll explore how to leverage those solutions.

Optimizing Preventive Maintenance Management

Manufacturers are often so busy getting the latest batch of products out the door that they do not pay much attention to how their equipment is running. As a result, devices can break unexpectedly. Preventive maintenance involves establishing regular, scheduled equipment inspections and maintenance tasks to minimize the chances of this happening. Ideally, maintenance schedules are designed to fit the individual lifecycles of each machine, considering its age, usage history, manufacturer recommendations, and historical performance data. When equipment enters a stage where it may be prone to problems, it can be serviced more frequently and at times that will have the least negative impact on the business.

IoT Enables Real-Time Monitoring and Data Analysis

Traditionally, manufacturers had little insight into how their devices were operating in real time. The internet of things (IoT) launched a new generation of intelligent sensors, which can monitor equipment and use metrics like temperature and cycle time to provide insight into how well the machinery is functioning at all times. An MES solution can then correlate those data points, identify trends, and predict what may happen next with the monitored devices.

As a result, manufacturers gain more insight into equipment wear and tear and understand when a device needs to be cleaned or a part replaced. If a problem arises, an MES can send real-time notifications, giving businesses the opportunity to address issues as they unfold and keep the production line humming, not only minimizing downtime but also boosting overall equipment effectiveness (OEE).

Optimizing Maintenance Improves Product Quality

Waste is another cost associated with unplanned downtime. The time right before a device breaks down is when its efficiency often slips, and production quality can drop. In the worst cases, the company produces unsellable goods. Servicing the device proactively decreases the likelihood of performance slippage. By optimizing preventive maintenance and taking advantage of IoT capabilities, you can address machine wear and tear before it impacts product quality.

SYSCON PlantStar helps manufacturers like you optimize operations by minimizing downtime and identifying production issues before they escalate into major problems. To learn more about MES solutions and find tips for improving your bottom line, subscribe to the SYSCON PlantStar blog.