Avoiding Detrimental Downtime
David Coleman, operations director at HSM UK, considers the impact of downtime on industrial organisations which rely on environmental technologies.
Unplanned downtime has always had a large impact on a number of industries and it’s no different for those dealing with Waste Environmental Technology.
For those in manufacturing, packaging and other service-based operations, unplanned downtime can be the largest source of lost production and revenue. It’s no secret that downtime has a detrimental effect across many industries, but it has an even bigger impact on those working within packaging and waste environmental technology.
Planned downtime can be a daily occurrence for some, with scheduled maintenance, tool breaks and adjustments needed for many to retain optimal operation. After all, keeping machinery in top condition and processes working as smoothly as possible is needed to achieve production goals.
Unplanned downtime is different. An unexpected interruption can cost a business in so many ways, especially if they rely on performance and quality to stay competitive in their niche. So, just how detrimental can unplanned downtime be?
The real costs of unplanned downtime
With waste environmental machinery such as balers and PET plastic crushers, unexpected downtime can cause safety and environmental concerns, as well as disturbing carefully planned schedules with delays.
It can also be argued that there’s a larger impact left to deal with. Take the physical footprint caused by the excess of waste materials as an example. In England alone, according to 2017 figures, it is estimated that 37.9 million tonnes of commercial and industrial waste was generated that year. Inoperable waste environmental machinery causes a backlog of physical waste. In this event, a packaging plant (and similar establishments) may then need to turn to other options, such as skip hire. This method not only requires extra plant space but can often cost hundreds of pounds each day and depending on how much waste you send to landfill; you could also risk landfill tax fines.
Furthermore, an increased backlog may also use more energy than usual to process which can increase the revenue lost throughout unplanned downtime. It may require more manpower than usual to eliminate the backlog which has a knock-on effect in other departments, causing a reduction in efficiency for common processes in other areas of the company.
Investing to reduce risk
There are ways to avoid the risks associated with downtime, some of which many fail to take notice of. With waste environmental machinery in particular, investing (whether time or money) is key.
Considering budget, when it comes to machinery the cheapest solution isn’t always the best solution. Budget-friendly machinery can often be more susceptible to unplanned downtime, with the quality and reliability of parts sometimes questionable. Decision makers can also often expect less warranty and after-care services with cheaper solutions, meaning it’s less cost-effective when downtime does occur. Investing in a manufacturer that offers the necessary service contracts, intelligent stock holiday, critical and approved spare parts and a highly trained service engineering team negates the risks associated with cheaper alternatives.
Aside from monetary investment, investments in time and staff are just as crucial to ensure mitigation of the effects of unexpected downtime. Staff training for machinery operators can help in various areas. Training operators to recognise when a machine requires maintenance and the basics of operation can help to prolong the life of machinery by reducing errors and subsequent damage.
Moving further from the basics, data collection can help identify patterns of unplanned downtime, and from these patterns, a fall-back plan can be created to help reduce the heavy costs of unexpected downtime. Crafting a secure plan could reduce time, energy and efficiency in those unwanted periods of downtime.
Future-proofing against unplanned downtime
With all machinery, an element of downtime can be expected. Raising awareness amongst staff on how to reduce or prevent unplanned downtime is essential for any organisation operating waste environmental technology.
Investing both time and money can seem off-putting to some that are attracted to cheaper solutions. But organisations must take a step back and ask themselves whether a quick decision or a smart decision will be more beneficial to them in the years to come.