Is Downtime Your Silent Production Killer?

downtime is your production killer

Are unplanned stoppages and slowdowns disrupting plant operations?

Unplanned production stoppages can have an enormous impact on production efficiency and the profitability of process plants. Analyzing lost production is often undertaken manually, with limited results, open to inaccuracy and error prone. It is difficult to identify the production impact and the effects on plant availability including scheduled and unscheduled downtime, reasons for downtime, common equipment failures, performance comparisons and maintenance priorities.

The process industries have to manage high levels of equipment downtime which can result in increased costs, reduced productivity, and squeezed profit margins. Plant managers need information to help guide their decisions and to implement best practices. By analyzing downtime, it can expose the underlying issues that affect plant availability and rate loss.

Information is power

Often, short regular incidents are overlooked and it is the large unusual events that attract the most attention when investigating downtime occurrences. However, these large incidents occur infrequently, and the shorter and more regular disruptions can accumulate over time and are difficult to track manually. An automated tool is an excellent way to capture these smaller and more frequent incidents, and stores this information in a single location. Without such a tool, recording and logging this information manually is problematic, time consuming and error prone.

Having all the relevant information in a single location, allows plant management to make informed decisions quickly and take corrective actions. Once these actions have been implemented, the results can be benchmarked and compared against previous performance, for improved understanding with quantifiable results.

Effective analysis of downtime assists plant management to mitigate or eradicate causes of downtime and share best practices to reduce potential downtime. This is important for any continuous improvement program such as Six Sigma, as it provides clarity on where production is being lost, and where operational changes are needed to increase availability. It forms an important part of plant operations management and provides information that relates to Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE).

What can be done?

Yokogawa developed an automated software solution that captures downtime and rate loss information for improved understanding of the issues that can impact plant availability. This monitoring tool captures downtime events and enables operators to add additional information and associated reasons. It enables a deeper understanding of problematic areas to target the root causes of downtime when compared to a manual process.

By having access to all associated information relating to a downtime event or rate loss, areas for improvements can be analyzed and evaluated to help reduce production losses in the future. Reports are generated that reveal the issues that are having the greatest impact on production in terms of the causes or reasons for stoppages, and common equipment failures in the plant. Once this information has been examined, it supports management decisions regarding improvement actions that are based on real data, to reduce plant production losses and improve efficiency.

Why use an automated tool?

 Downtime Analysis Dashboard

Downtime Analysis Dashboard

At first glance, manual analysis appears to be in-expensive and easy to implement, but the truth is that it provides limited results. It is susceptible to human error including no classification of downtime and no contextual information. “Stealth IT” solutions such as spreadsheets or databases are flexible, low cost options that require knowledge of what production data needs to be tracked and monitored. However, it is difficult to maintain a consistent standard over time and the information may not be available in a timely manner for fast corrective actions to be implemented.

An automated tool utilizes software to collect data and provides this information to the company’s ERP system. An ERP only collects consolidated data and does not have the capability to produce detailed reports, making it impossible to perform detailed analysis and implement corrective actions.

 Downtime Analysis Summary Report

Downtime Analysis Summary Report

To perform effective analysis of downtime, a dedicated software tool that provides useful and detailed downtime and rate loss information, accompanied by manual input provides an integrated solution. Using dedicated software to collect data and measure the actual output against the expected output enables the identification and quantification of downtime, and helps improve lost production capacity. Analyzing the results and implementing corrective actions can save money through optimized operation and prioritized maintenance to increase production.

Conclusion

An automated software solution for analyzing downtime provides an enhanced visibility of the issues that affect plant availability and production loss. It is a cost-effective method of tracking production stoppages and improves the analysis capability to better understand the most important causes of unplanned stoppages and production slowdowns. It can increase plant efficiency by isolating production under-performance, and putting actions in place to maximize production equipment which can be measured over time. It forms part of a continuous improvement program to improve operational efficiency and increase overall productivity. Is your company analyzing downtime to the best of its ability?

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