The Cost of Downtime in Manufacturing Facilities

The Cost of Downtime in Manufacturing Facilities

While manufacturing organizations have a lot on their plates, unplanned downtime is one of their worst nightmares. Unexpected downtime occurs due to several reasons; however, the most common culprit is problematic equipment. Manufacturing firms use various costly and complex machinery, and if not maintained properly, it can lead to breakdowns, failures, or even explosions! As can be understood, the cost of downtime in manufacturing facilities is huge – bottlenecks, disruptions, losses, and missed deadlines are just some of the consequences.

The Cost of Downtime in Manufacturing Facilities

That being said, let’s look at the cost of downtime in manufacturing and how to minimize it.

Some costs of downtime in manufacturing facilities

Hampered production

Unsurprisingly, production being hit is a prominent cost of downtime in manufacturing plants. It’s pretty obvious – when a piece of manufacturing machinery malfunctions, it will become a significant bottleneck in the production process. While other parts of the production process might be operating optimally, everything will slow down once the goods arrive at the faulty machine. As a result, production will be hampered significantly. Imagine if a conveyor belt malfunctions – all the goods need to be diverted to another belt which will take time, disrupt the entire process, and lower throughput. This is worse when manufacturing organizations need to meet deadlines – it directly impacts their bottom line.

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Affected inventory levels

This one is an obscure cost of downtime in manufacturing facilities and only familiar to those who have experience with similar organizations – let’s explain what this actually means.

Manufacturing organizations require the availability of specific components (varying on the type of organization) to ensure smooth and desirable production levels. However, with malfunctioning machinery comes unexpected downtime, leading to the components being used quickly and hampering inventory levels. The manufacturing plant won’t be able to reach targeted production levels if the inventory keeps depleting. If this happens frequently, it can take them weeks to restore everything to its original state.

Additional pressure on workers and machinery

As already mentioned, unexpected equipment breakdowns will generate downtime and create bottlenecks in the production process. However, this also means that there will be additional pressure on the rest of the machinery and workers.

Let’s look back at the conveyor belt example – the plant has only two of them, and one is faulty. This means that the other conveyor belt will be handling additional pressure of the faulty one, which its manufacturer does not recommend. The conveyor belt is rated to handle 100 units at a time, but now it’s having to take 200 – much more than it can handle. Not only will this put additional pressure on the belt, but it might also cause the machine to break down in the future – something that can cause additional unplanned downtime within the facility.

Misuse of resources

One prominent cost of downtime in manufacturing plants is that it will divert resources from their specific functions – hampering other aspects. For example, if the entire maintenance team is always working on repairing machinery, they won’t have time to work on their actual tasks.

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Maintenance team members usually have to carry out different tasks such as cleaning, lubricating equipment, inspecting machinery, providing maintenance, etc. These are assigned to them via work orders using tools like CMMS software. However, as maintenance technicians put out fires (figuratively) by working only on emergency maintenance tasks, the routine maintenance tasks will pile up and the appropriate equipment ignored, which can cause problems down the line. For instance, a CNC machine requires lubrication every four days, but as the assigned technician is working on emergency repairs, the machine won’t be receiving the lubricant on time. Using the CNC machine in such a state will cause friction, overheating, wear and tear, and even permanent damages

Idle workers

Another cost of downtime in manufacturing facilities is that the workers are sitting idle – they have not much to do, especially if the machinery they work with is out of commission. For example, a machine operator must work 40 hours a week to meet production deadlines. However, they lose 6 hours due to malfunctioning machinery, which hugely impacts production. Not only does the organization need to deal with wasted labor costs, lower productivity, and lost production, but they’ll also not be generating any revenue since the tasks dependent on the machinery are on hold until repairs are made.

Preventive maintenance can minimize downtime in manufacturing facilities

While unplanned downtime is typically caused by malfunctioning machinery, most manufacturing firms implement preventive maintenance to combat it. Preventive maintenance ensures that the equipment is checked frequently, receives proper care, and replaces worn-out components quickly. All of these maintenance activities lead to preventing potential problems, reducing unexpected downtime, and improving equipment reliability.

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