Downtime in manufacturing refers to a period of time when a production line or machine is not in operation due to maintenance, repairs, or other issues. This can result in a loss of productivity, increased costs, and missed production targets, and it is estimated that in the US alone it costs manufacturers around $1 trillion dollars per year. Not surprisingly, the biggest factors that contribute to unplanned downtime are human error and improper maintenance.
To minimize downtime, manufacturers are turning to digital technology to transform their frontline operations and provide a foundation for a holistic preventive maintenance strategy.
Reducing downtime with a Connected Frontline Operations Platform
Manufacturers often implement Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) as part of a more comprehensive preventive maintenance approach. TPM is a strategy commonly used in manufacturing and production operations to improve the effectiveness and reliability of equipment, which in turn can increase productivity and reduce downtime.
Total productive maintenance strives to reduce workplace losses by placing the responsibility of basic maintenance upkeep on the primary equipment user: the machine operator. This preventive practice consists of “8 pillars” to help improve equipment reliability and elevate worker productivity:
At the front of this framework is Autonome Instandhaltung. Autonomous maintenance is a technique used in TPM that involves giving operators and other frontline employees the responsibility and authority to take care of their own equipment and work areas (e.g cleaning, safety checks, etc.). This can improve employee engagement by giving them a sense of ownership over their work and equipment, as well as a greater understanding of how their actions can impact productivity and quality. Additionally, involving employees in the maintenance process can lead to improved communication and teamwork, which can further enhance engagement.
This is where frontline operations platforms come into play.
Connected frontline operations platforms are digital software tools that can help standardize and improve the way operators perform maintenance tasks. They are used to improve communication, training, collaboration, guidance, and support for the operators.
Your connected workforce – a key to reducing downtime
Factory workers can have a significant impact on downtime in manufacturing. Whether it’s due to mistakes made by operators, non-optimal scheduling, or lack of communication, your workforce is at the center of your frontline operations. Factory workers can impact downtime in a variety of ways:
- Improper operation or maintenance: If factory workers are not properly trained on how to operate and maintain equipment, they may inadvertently cause downtime by making mistakes or not following proper procedures. Modern connected worker tools, like Augmentir’s connected worker solution, are increasingly being used to streamline training and digitize skills tracking to help ensure that the right people with the right skills are on the job.
- Safety incidents: Workers who do not follow proper safety procedures can cause accidents that lead to downtime while equipment is repaired or replaced. By digitizing safety procedures, manufacturers can ensure that workers perform the proper steps, and follow the proper protocols before performing a maintenance routine.
- Human error: Workers may make mistakes that lead to downtime, such as not properly setting up equipment or not noticing when a machine needs maintenance. Properly training employees on how to maintain and operate equipment can help to minimize downtime due to human error
- Quality issues: Workers may produce products that do not meet quality standards, which can lead to downtime while the products are reworked or scrapped.
- Lack of proper communication: Having clear and effective communication channels can help to quickly identify and address any issues that arise. Frontline communication tools like Augmentir can help improve communication and digitally record issues to better understand root causes. By identifying the underlying causes of downtime, manufacturers can take steps to prevent similar issues from occurring in the future.
- High turnover rate: High turnover rate can lead to a lack of experienced workers and can cause downtime while new employees are trained. While it’s difficult to completely prevent a high turnover rate, you can take measures to both expedite training for new hires, as well as create a more engaged, more empowered workforce. For example, Augmentir’s connected worker solution helps to accelerate new hire training and onboarding, and provides a skills management framework that helps to ensure that workers are excelling at their jobs.
It is important to note that factory workers are a crucial part of the manufacturing process and their role is vital for the success of the business. However, by providing workers with proper training, safety procedures, and communication channels, downtime in manufacturing due to human error can be reduced. Additionally, involving workers in the decision-making process and continuous improvement initiatives, can help to increase their ownership and responsibility towards the equipment, processes, and the whole factory’s performance.
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Augmentir is a connected worker solution that allows industrial companies to digitize and optimize all frontline processes that are part of their TPM strategy. The complete suite of tools are built on top of Augmentir’s patented Smart AI foundation, which helps identify patterns and areas for continuous improvement.