Downtime in Manufacturing

          Everyone that has ever been involved in manufacturing knows that the one thing that kills projected forecasts and cash flow from coming in is downtime.  If a particular machine is down that is crucial in your product line your parts are going to pile up as well as the complaints from customers if you cannot ship on time.  This is a daily struggle for everyone involved in maintenance, electronics, engineering and managers.  All of the sales teams, customers, service representatives, and supervisors are running around asking when are we going to be up and what can we do in the meantime to keep the work in progress going.

          The answer is not cut and dry.  To begin with the older the equipment you have the more prepared you better be.  It’s just like driving an old beat up car to work every day.  You better have a backup plan such as another car to get in when your primary one won’t start in the morning.  With old machinery you need to keep several key components on site such as motherboards, ball screws, motors and drives to prepare for the worst time possible of when you get the call saying the machine is down and we need it right away.

          I just read an interesting blog titled Slaying the Downtime Dragon.  The article mentioned how a team of software engineers from University of Portsmouth had designed some software to help give notice as to when a machine was about to fail.  The article went on to say how the monitoring software and sensors trace algorithms and vibrations to help detect whether a certain component was going to fail in the near future.  This sounds like an excellent opportunity for a lot of manufacturing companies to begin looking into.  The more advantages you have in preventing down time the better.

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