Machine downtime and unplanned disruptions are imposing a more significant challenge on manufacturers in the UK than ever before. According to research conducted by Siemens, the cost of such interruptions has surged by at least 50% per hour across all sectors compared to two years ago. The cumulative losses tied to unforeseen downtime are on a steep incline as well. The report suggests that Fortune Global 500 industrial organizations are now forfeiting nearly USD 1.5 trillion annually due to unplanned downtime, marking a 65% increase over the past two years and constituting 11% of their turnover.

Effectively reducing machine downtime is imperative for businesses, but resorting to strategies that involve additional expenses, such as excessive maintenance (e.g., frequent line closures for routine maintenance or maintaining surplus inventory as a precaution against machine failure), is equally unattractive and contradicts global sustainability initiatives.

The solution lies within the operational framework of production machinery. When making purchasing decisions, it is crucial to consider the infrastructure that supports equipment utilization in a manufacturing environment. This encompasses elements like training and development, machine monitoring, as well as service and support. According to Kate Rattigan, Senior Product Manager – Advanced Services at Domino Printing Sciences, an infrastructure centred around real-time, remote support may hold the key to achieving zero machine downtime.

Promoting Sustainable Productivity in your Production Line

In recent years, there has been a growing global acknowledgement of the significance of sustainable productivity – the aim to maximize production line performance while minimizing waste – and the role that predictive maintenance and ‘servitization’ play in achieving this goal.

However, for businesses to realize tangible and enduring advancements in sustainable productivity, they must allocate the right individuals to focus on processes crucial to current manufacturing operations, as well as those geared towards future innovations. They require effective processes to extract the utmost efficiency from their production lines and the appropriate technology and infrastructure to optimize their equipment.

Furthermore, as the cost of unexpected downtime continues to rise annually, optimizing this infrastructure depends on the ability to promptly deliver solutions to arising issues. In the present operational landscape, ‘remote’ has become synonymous with ‘next to you.’

People

People have historically played, and according to academic and industry experts, will continue to play a fundamental role in optimizing production lines. Forbes indicates that technological advancements and automation will enable workers to focus on more meaningful and high-value activities, such as design and management tasks. Both MIT and Statista predict that collaborations between humans and automation will shape the future of manufacturing. Preparing the workforce for this evolving landscape is an ongoing and increasingly crucial process.

Professor Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, emphasizes the need for leaders and citizens to collaborate in shaping a future that prioritizes people. In his book, The Fourth Industrial Revolution, he calls for putting people first, empowering them, and recognizing that these technologies are tools created by people for people.

In practical terms, manufacturers should ensure they have the support of an equipment supplier capable of delivering remote services and willing to invest in staff training and development. This ensures that employees acquire and retain the skills and knowledge needed to use machines optimally, covering aspects like effective machine usage, maintenance and servicing for optimal machine performance, and training in software/monitoring solutions to identify opportunities for production line optimization.

The optimal scenario involves training staff in advance so they can commence work with machinery immediately upon installation or before starting on a production line. Remote training often emerges as the most convenient method for achieving this.

Given challenges in staff recruitment and labour shortages, the prospect of remote training is likely to be highly attractive. It allows staff to learn without being away from the production line. Additionally, considering changing consumer demands, growing sustainability pressures, and a transient workforce, it’s prudent to anticipate whether the same individuals will continue in the same roles in the coming months. Having experts available to support manufacturers through these changes enhances business agility and provides a competitive edge.

Processes

With individuals strategically placed in appropriate roles and armed with the requisite knowledge, the subsequent step in mitigating machine and unplanned downtime involves establishing best-practice, remote machine monitoring processes to ensure optimal efficiency across production lines.

Utilizing automation, machine integration, and sensors to monitor production line and machine performance, coupled with cloud connectivity, empowers manufacturers and their supplier partners to detect even the slightest changes in performance, regardless of the machinery’s geographical location.

Data collected through automated and connected solutions serves as a baseline for assessing how a machine or production line functions optimally. Real-time alerts are triggered when performance degradation is identified, providing on-site workers the information needed to implement fixes and improvements. Simultaneously, equipment providers can access this data to offer more tailored services aligned with a manufacturer’s defined key performance indicators or preferred outcomes.

This proactive insight enables manufacturers and service providers to transition from a reactive ‘break and fix’ model to predictive maintenance. This shift aligns more closely with the evolving role of individuals in optimizing production lines, positioning the ‘engineer of the future’ as a purveyor of intellectual capital focused on data-driven decision-making and customer outcomes.

Technology

The conclusive element of the equation is, undoubtedly, technology. Augmented reality empowers service providers to maximize the value of machinery by offering remote services and effectively being ‘by the manufacturer’s side’ within hours, or even minutes—considerably faster than relying on a physical visit.

Cutting-edge remote service solutions not only expedite the resolution time for machinery in need of support but also contribute to predictive maintenance. They address minor issues before they can lead to a production line halt, or facilitate changeovers to maintain optimal factory output.

Achieving this necessitates machinery designed with ease of service in mind for both production line workers and engineers, enabling remote collaboration to ensure customers can self-serve with minimal guidance. Industry 4.0-enabled machines today should include features such as:

  1. QR codes to access instructional videos for maintenance, cleaning, and simple repairs.
  2. Parts designed for easy replacement by on-site staff.
  3. A service infrastructure facilitating remote assistance.

Additionally, the availability of resources is a critical consideration. Having a global supplier partner capable of swiftly dispatching consumables, machine parts, and spares worldwide is pivotal, ensuring seamless support regardless of your location.

Conclusion

In the realm of manufacturing production lines, reliability and peace of mind are paramount. Safeguarding the holistic integrity of not only individual pieces of machinery but the entire machine infrastructure is crucial. This necessitates a strategic partnership with a provider capable of delivering agile solutions dedicated to minimizing downtime and enhancing efficiency. The most straightforward approach involves leveraging remote tools and services, enabling manufacturers to ensure staff training, seamless technology integration and optimization, and easy machinery servicing—all without dependence on an on-site service engineer. This autonomy empowers manufacturers to take command of their operations, fostering control and efficiency.

 

Want to learn more? Contact our team!

Make an enquiry
close

Make an enquiry