“Time is money” is the unspoken motto of businesses everywhere, but framed incorrectly, it can also be the antithesis of productivity and profit. When analyzing ways to boost manufacturing productivity, reducing work stoppages and downtime is the first place to look. Oftentimes, many hours are being wasted on tasks that should take much less time, or shouldn’t be happening at all.
Seeking to prevent downtime entirely isn’t a worthwhile endeavor. Planned downtime is necessary, and the goal here isn’t to eradicate downtime completely. Instead, the goal is to reduce unplanned and ultimately unnecessary downtime, making the manufacturing process more efficient and cost-effective. We’ve broken this goal down into five simple steps.
1. Do Keep Detailed Notes
It can be tedious (and even frustrating to some), but tracking downtime is the first line of defense against preventing work stoppages and streamlining downtime. Start a downtime log and whenever any stoppages occur, planned or unplanned, log them accordingly. It’s up to you and your business goals and industry to decide how strict of a log you want this to be. Do bathroom breaks severely impact productivity and, ultimately, profits? Are shift changes becoming a time-suck? Then record those too! Once you have a clear sense of where work stoppages are occurring, it becomes that much easier to implement new rules or policies to reduce them.
2. Don’t Do Things Twice
This may seem like a no-brainer, but it is a common pitfall of the “time is money” adage. When attempting to do things as quickly as possible, mistakes tend to be made. For instance, selecting the right caster the first time, instead of purchasing one without properly considering the environment, weight-capacity needs, and manufacturer quality can save the hassle of needing to replace it down the road – or worse, causing damage to your equipment due to a caster that isn’t appropriate for the application.
3. If It Ain’t Broke, Do Fix It (Or At Least Service It)
Old, inefficient equipment is one of the top causes of unplanned downtime. Unplanned downtime, or slowed work due to dated or poorly performing equipment, is also one of the most costly causes of work stoppages, especially if the equipment breaks altogether. Not only has time been wasted using slower equipment for months, years, or even decades, but there’s likely no point in servicing the equipment, adding downtime waiting for new pieces to come in.
Regular maintenance and service are critical to preventing these disastrous effects down the road. Yes, it will count towards your downtime log, but short, planned stoppages for regular maintenance are much better than unplanned downtime of no guaranteed duration.
4. Consider Accessorizing
Accessories can play a major role in the efficacy of your equipment. Adding floor locks to your casters is a great idea for those who need mobility, but also a steady surface. Floor locks come in a variety of configurations to serve many needs. Bumpers are also a common add-on to a caster order, preventing damage due to bumping into walls, carts, other equipment, and more. Adding a bumper in advance can protect your equipment from damage and increase its longevity.
5. Safety First
Safety plays a large role in preventing work stoppages for obvious reasons. Creating a safe environment not only prevents accidents but also safeguards against downtime caused by damaging equipment, injuries, or other incidents.
Start by taking a look at your equipment. How does it perform in your work environment? With casters, many environmental factors can take a toll, including flooring type, surface dryness, the pace of work, and location (indoor or outdoor). Purchasing the right caster can help avoid slips and falls. Consider whether a caster lock could improve safety, and read our guide to caster locks to determine which one is right for you.
Many factors affect downtime and work stoppages. By taking a closer look at what could be causing manufacturing downtime, you’ll gain a better idea of how processes and policies can be improved, boosting productivity (and profits) along the way.