Unplanned downtime is inconvenient in any manufacturing operation, especially when you are working to tight production schedules. And while it’s close to impossible to prevent any unscheduled downtime whatsoever, there are some things you can do to reduce it.
Many things can impact operations – failure of suppliers to deliver on time, power outages, flood, fire, staff illness, and so on. Some of these can be controlled, some can be planned for, and some you have no influence over at all. One of the things you do have control over is your machinery and equipment. And while it’s not possible to prevent breakdowns completely, there are plenty of things you can do to reduce the likelihood. So we’re going to look at three key things you can control to minimise the chances of equipment failure.
It should go without saying that you need to look after your equipment, but it’s surprising how often cleaning and maintenance become reactive rather than proactive. Keeping your equipment free from dust, dirt and debris, and servicing it regularly, is one of the easiest ways to keep it operating efficiently and prevent breakdowns.
One of the problems we come across is manufacturers using equipment from several different suppliers. Not only can this make it time-consuming to figure out who you need to call when things do go wrong, but it also makes it difficult to monitor the quality of parts being used.
At Becker, our engineers only use genuine parts, manufactured in our headquarters in Germany. Unfortunately, not all suppliers are as selective. If you aren’t monitoring your equipment repairs and servicing, you could end up with substandard components being used, resulting in bigger problems long-term.
Just because your equipment works, it doesn’t mean it’s right for the job. If you’re overloading your equipment or individual elements of it, it’s going to break down more frequently, costing more in the long run. We see examples of this happening all the time with vacuum systems – something as simple as piping being too long can have a significant impact on vacuum pressure. Not only does this cause operational issues, it means your energy bills are higher than they need to be too.
Centralised vacuum systems are a great way of reducing unplanned downtime caused by equipment failure. Rather than having individual pumps in your production areas, you have one central system that uses several larger compressors or vacuum pumps.
Your centralised systems can be located away from the production floor in a central control room. Each unit is connected to your production machines via a centralised ring and is equipped with its own frequency converter. This gives you greater control over each operating point of your production machines. Becker centralised vacuum systems are built with a cascading control system which allows for an even wear across your pumps. There’s also built-in redundancy, so your pumps can be serviced without interrupting production, meaning less downtime on your machines.
The other benefit is that vacuum pumps in centralised systems are low maintenance and utilise many of the same parts and materials. This keeps the range of required parts to an absolute minimum, meaning fewer maintenance visits and fewer suppliers to deal with. And reducing unplanned downtime isn’t the only advantage to centralised vacuum systems. They are also far more energy efficient, meaning lower operating costs. Plus, because you are removing compressors and vacuum pumps from production areas, you also remove the associated heat, noise and oil mist emissions. This makes the production areas more pleasant for your teams to work in.