Reducing Operating Costs While Meeting Product Demand

Manufacturing costs are consistently trending upward recently. Alongside increasing product complexity, production costs are growing as higher quality equipment and specialized employee skills become crucial in maintaining customer satisfaction.

While managing all these factors, it is often difficult finding ways to maximize profits while meeting customer expectations. Complex machinery, high production cost and more elaborate customer demands may make reducing costs seem impossible, there are several factors to take into consideration that can maximize your margins.

Review Unplanned Downtime
When deadlines are fast approaching and demand is high, it’s common to aim to increase the speed of production to keep up. What many people often forget, is that increased production speed comes with side effects. Running equipment at high speeds will influence vibrations, friction, and especially heat, causing negative effects on your equipment.

Newer equipment may be fitted with sensors that monitor these factors while older equipment can be retrofitted with options such as temperature pyrometers. Utilizing these options will allow you to get the best picture possible of how your equipment is performing. When reviewing this data, take into consideration the following: the temperature of the machine, the length of time the machine had been running, and what process was being completed when the downtime occurred.

These three pieces of information will paint a picture of why downtimes are occurring which leads to the next step.

Predictive Maintenance
Most companies have a base maintenance schedule for their equipment. Predictive maintenance takes this one step further by not servicing equipment based on time that has elapsed, but instead looks at the machines performance to determine when maintenance should be performed.

For example, normal parameters for your equipment may be ideally running temperature of 170°F. When analyzing your data, you’ve noticed that downtimes commonly occur when your machine is reaching 185°F. From this information, you can infer that when your equipment begins reaching a temperature of 175°F, X part is due to fail within a set period.

Where with preventative maintenance, parts are replaced just in case after a set timeframe, predictive maintenance pinpoints exactly when a part is destined to fail. By pinpointing this event, machines can be run right up until that point, maximizing total run times and minimizing downtime that may occur outside of regularly scheduled maintenance.

Training Programs
Production is ramping up which means you need your employees performing at their highest capacity as well. While increased production often means hiring additional staff to keep up or automating positions when possible, sometimes this is not ideal for your environment. In these cases, you have to do the best you can with the employees you currently have available.

Increased staff training is a great way to maximize the potential of the staff you already have. They can be trained for increased speed but there are several other ways to teach them to reduce production costs. Minimizing waste and workplace errors is an often overlooked but crucial part of running an effective operation. Training your employees to recognize these issues and how best to resolve them is a great step in having them contribute to overall cost reductions.