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How to Promote Uptime & Mitigate Risks on Your Shop Floor

Paul Lachance
  • Apr 30, 2021
  • 4 minutes

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There are risks all around us – life (and work) is all about balancing those risks. Some are financial risks like unplanned downtime, poor financial planning due to inadequate information or even compliance gaps. Others are more operations and team-related risks: safety, team inefficiencies or even poor communication. 

All of these risks can hurt you: physically, morale-wise and financially. In many cases, there are clear ways to mitigate these risks. No manufacturer wants unplanned downtime, so why do we allow avoidable downtime to occur? In many cases, manufacturers do not realize that even basic proper CMMS (computerized maintenance management system) implementation can mitigate these risks.

Maintenance people are more important than you think

What do maintenance people do? The most common response: They fix broken things. True, but their main role is to increase the capacity and efficiencies of a manufacturing or related organization. 

Reducing downtime is the same as increasing uptime, which also directly translates to increasing production capacity. Need to bump up production to match sales demand? Maintenance can help achieve this by moving uptime up 5-10%. This is far less expensive, quicker and easier than adding shifts or production capacity/assets. Conversely, if you need to tighten –your belt, promoting lean efficiencies through better team, parts and asset management really helps.

Top financial shop floor risks

  1. In 2016, the average cost of downtime across all businesses was $260,000 per hour. That was a 60% jump from 2014.
  2. In some industries, the cost is considerably higher. In the auto industry, downtime can cost up to $50,000 per minute, which equals $3 million per hour.
  3. Even so, the true cost of downtime is unknown. Consultants believe that 80% of industrial facilities are unable to accurately estimate their downtime. A common estimate is that factories lose anywhere from 5 to 20% of their productivity due to downtime.
  4. Human error causes 23% of unplanned downtime in manufacturing. That's 2.5x higher than in other sectors.
  5. Faulty equipment is another common cause of downtime. A 2017 survey found that 70% of companies lack complete awareness of when equipment is due for maintenance or upgrade.
  6. The average cost of a downtime incident is about $17,000.
  7. Manufacturers experience an average of 800 hours of downtime every year. 

Sources:

The data is overwhelmingly clear: Poor maintenance translates to inefficiencies, prematurely failing assets, “leaky” parts storerooms and other expensive financial risks. Although we would all love to see progress in these areas, it may be unclear how a CMMS helps translate actions into these positive metrics. Like a lot of continuous improvement plans, it starts with small changes that build into larger ones – all leading to efficiencies, savings and, ultimately, risk mitigation.

You need good information

It is much harder to fix issues that you cannot really measure. 

I will use a car analogy: You are driving down the road in car #1 and you see smoke rising from the hood. You look down at the dashboard and there is not much to help you – no gauges, alarms or even more important, a warning before the smoke started! Car #2 is full of excellent metrics, gauges and alarms that would have warned you well in advance of us being stranded and having to call AAA.

old car dashboard

modern car dashboard

A CMMS provides the same abilities, especially if it’s well implemented and has good data going in. We can use that data and work history to indicate where problems are and mitigate those risks. Downtime is a huge shopfloor risk and profit killer, so catching those sources early is extremely helpful in mitigating those risks. Having good metrics, analytics and KPIs (key performance indicators) around all your maintenance operations is key, and a CMMS is your #1 source.

Covering compliance & safety gaps

There are many forms of regulatory compliance, but I’ll use ISO and OSHA as examples. This is a combination financial and operational risk. ISO 9000 family is another way of measuring your quality management systems (formal and informal). Failing an ISO audit can lead to extra burdens, increased direct and indirect costs, and loss of goodwill with clients, vendors and suppliers. OSHA-related violations certainly create financial and operational risks. Team safety is clearly a primary goal, but the secondary costs of an OSHA-related issue can be significant.

See specific areas of compliance for your industry.

In all cases, your CMMS can help mitigate these risks. 

Having a well-implemented CMMS satisfies numerous ISO 9000-related needs: 

  • Automated preventive maintenance 
  • Well-documented work and safety procedures
  • Reporting and record-keeping for audits

The operational benefits of CMMS create a better run and more efficient team with solid safety-related resources. For example, having your job safety analysis (JSAs), safety data sheets (SDS), lockout/tagout procedures alongside your standard preventive and corrective maintenance work order instructions will help mitigate safety issues in the first place and also show an auditor you are serious about that mitigation should an issue arise.

Improving team efficiency

How well your team performs will help (or hurt) both financial and operational risks. 

Some questions that may help you find gaps include:

  • Do you have the right people, with the right skills and right availability on the work orders? 
  • Are you intelligently balancing your priorities? 
  • How can you optimize preventive and corrective maintenance work order process?

All of this is managed and optimized in your CMMS. For example, a work order should have more than a simple “priority.” Inevitably, a work order for a broken toilet in a restroom is called “high” – even though there are numerous other restrooms in the vicinity. We all want our bathrooms working, but is this the same “high” as a key production asset having an issue? 

Proper, intelligent balancing of work orders requires a combination of traditional priority alongside the criticality of the assets affected.

Get this wrong and you hurt the efficiency of your team (not to mention possibly extending downtime of more critical assets). Your CMMS can help you identify and manage all of this, show you what team members are available (with the right skills), identify what parts you need (and if in stock), etc. – all helping you mitigate those operational shopfloor risks.

Creating intelligent workflow

Your CMMS can think for you. It can recognize a safety-related work order and automatically associate your safety officer, bump up the priority and send an email notification. 

Do you have a work order that’s been sitting around too long? Have your CMMS automatically re-alert the team. 

Need approvals for a project, purchase or closing a work order? Your CMMS can manage this. Mitigating operational shop floor risks is greatly aided by a CMMS with dynamic routing, notification and escalation.

Proper communication is key

CMMS helps your team, vendors, contractors and even assets communicate. Your dashboard can be setup to show you many KPIs. For example, improving your ratio of preventive-to-corrective maintenance is essential: Set a goal and publish it on your dashboard. That way it will be hard to ignore if you see it all the time and continue to work with your team to help improve.

Notification is another example: As you are low on parts, have an email sent or see an alert on your dashboard. This will help you avoid those dreaded “stock-outs” or missing a key spare part when you need it. Likewise, as work orders are assigned to team members, contractors, etc., you can make sure they get a notification with a quick link into the CMMS. This will help shorten response times and catch problems quicker. Even automated IoT (internet of things) notifications where your assets can electronically tell you they need help is an amazing form of communication. All of this is assisted with your mobile CMMS. Real-time access, no matter where you are, streamlines communication – all of which will help mitigate operational shop floor risks.

Combatting risk with your CMMS

The risks, both financial and operational, are all around us. But the efforts to mitigate are well-rewarded through a properly implemented CMMS. Quality, reliable information from your CMMS helps drive this. 

The investment (notice I did not say “cost”) has a strong return –on investment and your team will be safer, more efficient and happier. And your CMMS partner can help you with this continuous improvement process by working with you to identify your priority areas of concern and work from there. All of this will continuously improve your operations – a contagious process that will help mitigate your shopfloor risks.

Learn more at industry-specific sessions like this at Virtual Dude University. Or ready to get started mitigating risk at your manufacturing plant? See how we can help.

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