March 26, 2019

How to Minimize Downtime in Manufacturing: A Guide

Unplanned downtime is an underestimated source of loss for bulk material handling plants or manufacturers in general. While a few minutes here and there of downtime seem unimportant, it definitely adds up. In fact, it adds up to $50 billion of loss each year for manufacturers. That’s an average of $260,000 per hour!

Many things can cause unplanned downtime. This can include machines breaking down or employees being unexpectedly absent. Sometimes, these can even be small mistakes made by workers, which cause production to halt.

There are a few ways you can stop unplanned downtime from getting in the way of maximizing production. Here are some of them:

Show How Much Downtime Costs

In order to get your anti-downtime actions supported by stakeholders, it’s important to show them exactly how much they are losing to downtime. Most industrial factories and plants can’t properly estimate how much they are losing to downtime and even those that do undercalculate by up to 300%.

For you to be able to get the total cost of unplanned downtime, get the following values and add them up:

Cost of the decrease of employee productivity
Cost of the decrease in the production of actual goods
Cost of the labor hours diverted to fixing the cause of downtime
Cost of repairing machinery and equipment
Cost of the loss of reputation

Provide Good On-the-Job Training

Unplanned downtime in industrial plants is more often than not caused by employee error. Manufacturing machines are precision instruments and can be damaged through misuse by an employee. The best way to stop this particular source of unplanned downtime is to train your employees in the most efficient and thorough way possible. This can include quizzes, training courses, or even interactive videos.

Regular Maintenance

In order to keep your workers productive and extend the life of your machines, it’s important to perform regular maintenance on equipment. Without the proper equipment, workers cannot function at all. Should a breakdown occur, you’ll have to spend valuable time and money on repairing the machine. In order to combat this source of unplanned downtime, you must be more proactive in your approach to maintenance.

Do not wait for a machine to break down; prevent such occurrences by scheduling maintenance in advance. While you might be worried that you aren’t wringing every last bit of value out of your machine, you will lose much more should the machine break down unexpectedly.

For example, if you are relying on bulk powder handling systems and they break down, it may cost you your relationship with your client. That’s something far more valuable than the small amount of money you saved by not upgrading sooner.

Plan for Absences

Production can come to a complete halt should a key member of your crew suddenly be absent. This can cost your factory a lot of money. If you wish to mitigate the harm of unexpected employee absences, you must plan ahead. An example would be to train particular employees in multiple roles. Should any of these roles be left empty due to an absence, then the employees you trained earlier can pick up the slack.


Unplanned downtime can be a menace to your business, but by taking certain steps, you can avoid the problem as much as possible. This includes providing good on-the-job training, computing downtime costs down to the last cent and performing regular maintenance. The sooner you can make these moves, the sooner you will benefit.

Are you looking for professional assistance with manufacturing modernization? Gough Econ has you covered! We are a world-leading engineer and manufacturer of comprehensive and integrated solutions. Reach out to us today!

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