Downtime is the enemy of efficiency. Even the word–downtime–makes it clear that it’s a negative thing, something we all want to avoid. It leaves machinery idling, chugging exhaust into the atmosphere with no end product to justify it. It leaves workers waiting, getting paid without working. It leaves orders unfilled, causing customers to scramble for other options. It’s perhaps the most frustrating thing any business encounters.

So it stands to reason that every step of any manufacturing operation should have its eyes on reducing the chances of a breakdown that generates nothing but painful downtime. And there are indeed people doing all they can to keep that from happening, using some proven strategies that could even be carried over into our personal lives as we strive to save money and help the environment.

Downtime
photo credit: mouton.rebelle / Flickr

Reducing Breakdowns

In any type of manufacturing process, there are pieces of equipment that are key to maintaining uninterrupted function of the facility. When these pieces stop working, the entire system grinds to a halt, and the plant immediately begins incurring costs that don’t lead to any production.

Prevention is essential. Maintenance staff need to keep everything in top running order, and they need to work with equipment that has the best chance to keep going without breakdowns. Companies like AJ Weller builds industrial components that serve to “beef up” the areas of machinery that have the highest wear, resulting in longer durability for those components and reducing the chances of a breakdown.

This can be done right in your home. Poorly-maintained appliances and HVAC systems are inefficient and can break down, leading to big repair bills and losses from spoiled food or excess energy use.

Managing Inventories

Once the machinery is reliably operating, it’s critical that products coming in and out are properly managed. Is there room for raw materials that feed the chain, or will they be backed up on trucks, slow to unload and risking damage or theft? Is there space for completed products to be kept in a secure, climate-controlled space?

Many resources can be wasted in the absence of good inventory management. Backlogged inputs must be shifted and rearranged, sometimes even stored off-site. Completed orders can be mixed up and misdirected, causing problems with distribution that cost lots of money to repair. Successful businesses know how much space they have and how much product from each end of the production line they can accommodate.

The same is true at home. If you stock up on chicken during a sale, do you have enough freezer space for all of it? If you buy a slightly smaller car to save on gas, will it be big enough for your family vacation? Making good use of space saves lots of time and money, both in the home and in the workplace.

To enable you to manage inventories effectively, you need to use the widely available inventory management tools, such as those offered by Capterra. You can also look for it here.

Don't ignore safety signs - funny workplace safety sign
photo credit: Kolya Miller / Flickr

Staying Compliant

This might be the most frightening prospect at any workplace, the chance that someone could come in and close the place down due to a rules violation.

Any business has lots of regulations to follow. There are worker safety standards, environmental permits, and reams of tax laws to watch. A misstep on any of these could end up shuttering the place for a long period of time.

Businesses are well aware of this. They either maintain in-house staff to stay abreast of these legal issues or, in the case of smaller businesses, farm the work out to specialty companies that handle the entire process for them.

The same can happen to an individual. A lapsed driver’s license, missed open enrollment deadline, or late mortgage payment can put you over a barrel and interfere with your ability to work, pay medical bills, or maintain good credit. Your attention here is essential.

Conclusion

Downtime is a destructive force in businesses and families alike. If either one loses some of its ability to bring in money, disaster can result. In both areas, preparation and attention can help avoid these disasters.