How to avoid unplanned production downtime

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There is nothing worse or more costly than unexpected downtime happening in your production facility. In fact, according to a study by Oneserve, it is costing Britain’s manufacturers more than £180 billion every year.

The study found that downtime was largely due to:

  • technical faults
  • the age of machinery
  • misuse by employees
  • external damage
  • poor maintenance

And despite how visible downtime is, companies underestimate how much downtime they experience. And over 80% of companies are unable to calculate the downtime costs.

So, given how crucial compressed air supply is to manufacturing systems, any unintended stoppage could cause a critical problem for operations. Downtime is money. Not only do you have the repair the system, but production gets delayed with potential orders lost.

Real-time monitoring

In a factory there are many machines which need to be checked by engineering and maintenance technicians. How important is the compressed air system on that list? And what happens when you leave the compressor room to do something else? Issues with the compressor often aren’t noticed until they impact on production.

Remote monitoring gives the ability to monitor machines constantly and from anywhere. It provides users with information including:

  • temperature
  • pressure
  • volume
  • energy consumption
  • loaded hours
  • maintenance schedules

Having this information to hand can help identify trends and stay on top of maintenance. This will improve the systems efficiency while preventing system failures.

And whenever there is a serious situation, such as operating errors or temperature increases, users get notified via email or SMS. These warnings enable the issue to be addressed immediately, preventing a system shutdown.

Over Christmas, Direct Air received a critical alert from an iConn enabled compressor at a pharmaceutical facility. We were able to contact their on-shift team and organise for service engineers to resolve the problem. Without this prior warning, on the first day of full production, the customer may have had no compressed air, leading to downtime.

Remote monitoring can save times and money, with instant alerts to faults or required maintenance.

Predictive analysis & preventative maintenance

It may sound obvious but keep an organised maintenance programme in line with the manufacturer’s specifications. It’s easy for maintenance to become less of a priority during busy production periods. This can lead to scheduled maintenance oversight.

Missing scheduled maintenance can be a snowball effect. Days turn to weeks and weeks turn to months. The longer without servicing, the further away from the manufacturer’s recommendations your system is moving.

And with a remote monitoring system, preventative maintenance and troubleshooting can take place. If a compressor has a problem, the symptoms can likely provide clues to what went wrong.

Alongside trend and performance graphs, service engineers can predict future maintenance issues.

Compressed air specialists

As we noted before, there is a lot of expensive equipment in a workshop. Would you let someone from accounts change elements on your equipment? No, because they don’t have the required training.

The same can be said for compressed air systems. Without compressed air specific training, a person will not have the expertise to carry out a comprehensive service and troubleshoot problems.

A compressed air service provider takes the responsibility of maintenance. The service engineers work with compressed air systems, all day every day. They are alert to common issues and will have the experience to resolve them. And they offer best practice and recommendations while carrying out their work.

Stand-by equipment

If compressed air is vital to your operations, have you ever considered investing in a backup compressor? There is an initial capital cost. Yet compared to the costs and consequences of having no compressed air at all, it could be money saving.

Even if your air compressor is brand new, you never know when it could fail for any reason, at any time. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Also having backup compressed air equipment also means maintenance can be done at any time. You will no longer have to wait until the weekend or shutdown, as the standby compressor can take over during routine maintenance.

To avoid unplanned downtime the best solution is to have a maintenance strategy. It is better to invest in qualified service engineers and a standby compressor, than to cost your business by having nothing in place. As we all know, less downtime means more production!

 

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