There are six common causes of equipment-based productivity losses in the manufacturing industry. It is important to both know what the losses are and how to address them in order to understand your company and how it can continuously be improved.
“Equipment failure” is a term used to describe the time when equipment should be up and running but is not. Any unplanned stop or downtime falls into this category. There are many different causes of equipment failure. Tooling complications, breakdowns, lack of operators or materials, and unscheduled maintenance are just a few. Often, unplanned stop time is the single most significant contributor to productivity loss.
To combat unplanned stops, it is necessary to assign reasons for each loss through the use of reason codes, allowing you to apply root cause analysis to all your biggest sources of lost productivity. Be sure to clearly define all regular losses in your reason codes, as well as to create a single “catch-all” reason for all other losses that aren’t explicitly defined.
Unplanned stop time can also be reduced by focused improvement activities, within which one type of loss is chosen at a time to apply a root cause analysis and identify fixes.
This category accounts for the times when equipment stops for a few minutes before the operator resolves an issue. Small stops can be attributed to misfeeds, jams, incorrect settings, quick cleaning, and other short-term causes. Idling and minor stops typically do not require maintenance staff and can, in many cases, be chronic.
There are a few routes to go down to accommodate idling and small stops. The first task is to identify ideal cycle times at the maximum theoretical speed for every part of the machinery. Operators can also identify specific patterns or everyday occurrences which are associated with this short-term performance loss, such as connecting shortstops that often occur after a material change. Proactive maintenance and lubrication can be an option regarding avoiding these types of setbacks.
This type of loss is the result of defective parts during stable production times. Whether the defects are due to wrong settings, operator error, or lot expiration, process defects undoubtedly contribute to a loss in quality.
Process defects can be countered by reducing variation, which is a common reason for high rates of defects during startup. Pay attention to equipment settings and the materials used to limit the amount of variation seen throughout the manufacturing process.
Slow cycles occur whenever equipment runs at anything below an ideal cycle time. Worn out equipment, operator error, startup and shutdown, and bad lubrication can all contribute to reduced equipment speed.
As with accommodations for minor stops, a good starting place is identifying the true ideal cycle times, and then looking for patterns in the times when machinery is not running at its optimum pace. Different machinery may require different means of identifying a problem. For example, with high-speed equipment, it may be beneficial to invest in a high-speed camera to identify certain problems that cannot otherwise be seen. Otherwise, common countermeasures can be to tighten material quality standards, improve precision in equipment set-points, and train all operators with respect to best-standardized work procedures.
Reduced yield is the number of defective parts created post-startup until a steady-state production rate is reached. Reduced yield can come from sub-optimal changeovers, faulty settings, lack of necessary warm-up cycles, or just generally faulty equipment.
There is both a general and a specific route to take to counteract this section of productivity loss. Generally, as with process defects, you can reduce variation in both equipment settings and materials as a way to ensure that the same processes are consistently being used and that there are no problems which can be attributed to settings. However, there may be specific causes to the reduced yield of equipment. You may need to investigate if certain pieces of equipment run better with a warm-up or if, perhaps, some machinery inherently produces waste at the time of startup.
Lastly, production time can be lost during periods of time when equipment is scheduled for production but isn’t in use, due to a changeover or some adjustment. Setup and adjustments account for planned stops.
A majority of the time, the culprit of planned stops are just changeovers. This can be quickly addressed through a Single-Minute Exchange of Dies (SMED) program, which is designed to reduce setup times to under 10 minutes. Moreover, it’s important to define what Setup Time is required for your business, as well as how you’re going to measure it. This ensures consistent and cohesive application to ensure that all machinery is running under the same standards, and focus can be directed to equipment with longer setups than the rest.
Managing equipment in manufacturing can be difficult; it may always feel like a game of ensuring proper production and run-times while avoiding as many sources of productivity loss as possible. Luckily, you don’t have to go through this alone. SteamChain connects with manufacturers to help with solution development, feature management, warranties, agreements, and everything that your company may require. Consult SteamChain to help you navigate the ins and outs of business, manufacturing, and productivity.