Those in managerial positions have to do a lot of thinking about cost-saving initiatives in the workplace, and nowhere is that more important than in manufacturing. And, some of the best (and most difficult) places to cut costs in manufacturing are in maintenance and equipment reliability. Each improvement you make to your maintenance strategy reduces factory downtime and makes you more money in the long term.
To that end, we’ve come up with three of the best cost-saving projects your company can undertake in maintenance and reliability;
- Utilize improved materials
- Purchase full assemblies
- Reduce Lead Time
Here’s the best way to do all three.
Use Improved Materials
Technology has changed a lot over the last forty years. And, it’s changed even more over the past decade. After all, according to the Law of Accelerating Returns, technological advancement is an exponential process; the better our technology becomes, the faster it will improve. This means that any given science will have improved more from 2000-2010 than it did from 1990-2000.
Why is this important to know?
Well, because using modern, improved materials can help you cut costs, improve efficiency, and reduce overall downtime.
The fact of the matter is that many manufacturers are using materials and machinery that are up to sixty years old, and those old materials have huge downsides, ranging from shorter life-spans to more complicated care processes and higher repair costs.
Modern material science (especially in the field of reliability engineering) has allowed us to find solutions to many of these problems. For instance, modern materials last longer, plain and simple. An example of this is PEEK (Polyether ketone) plastic. Don’t be fooled by the “plastic” part. PEEK is a colorless organic thermoplastic polymer gaining wide acceptance in engineering. Why? Because PEEK is superbly mechanically and chemically resistant, even under very high temperature. Some grades can function fine under temperatures as high as 250 C. What’s more, PEEK’s processing conditions can be used to influence its structure and change its mechanical properties, making it an extremely versatile material. Finally, it’s very resistant to thermal degradation and can withstand both organic and aquatic environments. And that’s just one modern material.
On top of that, many materials have dramatically reduced in price. A prime example of this is stainless steel. In the past, one of your best options for affordable, corrosion-resistant materials was bronze, which was still expensive and more fragile than stainless steel. These days, you can get stainless steel parts for far less than bronze, cutting costs and improving equipment longevity.
Now, the benefits of using these improved materials are numerous; they function better, they’re easier to maintain and repair, and they’re often cheaper. But, one of the biggest benefits is that, due to their strength and longevity, you’ll save a ton of money in the long term by reducing eventual factory downtime.
Taking Advantage of Full Assemblies and the SMED system
Here’s another spot where factories often needlessly waste money, time, and effort in their extant maintenance activities.
When machine parts or whole assemblies break, most factories go to the effort of tracking down and replacing each specific part. They hunt them down piece-meal, buy them individually, and put them in their proper place. While such strategies do have their place, you miss out on an amazing cost-saving opportunity by refusing to buy full assemblies.
Remember: when you buy replacement parts piecemeal, you’re losing a lot of money… even if it’s not in up-front costs. You’ll spend hours searching for these parts. Then, you’ll spend more time individually cataloging and inventorying them. This is downtime that could have been spent making money, rather than doing repairs.
That’s where buying full assemblies comes in. Buying full assembly kits allows you to quickly get your machines up and running again, without the need to hunt down, catalog, and inventory each individual part. What’s more, most full assemblies and assembly kits are designed to emphasize speed, further cutting down on factory downtime. They can turn two or three days of downtime into mere hours.
Many assembly kits do this by following the SMED system. SMED stands for “Single-Minute Exchange of Dies,” and is a process invented by the Japanese industrial engineer Shigeo Shingo. It is easily one of the most revolutionary maintenance activities conceived in recent history. Put simply, the SMED system is designed to allow people to make as many equipment changeovers as possible while the machines are still in-use. The results of utilizing Shigeo Shingo’s SMED process are well documented, but almost hard to believe—factories saw a 94% reduction in downtime (from 90 minutes to only 5 minutes). Anyone in a position where they’re counting each second of downtime as a dollar lost will understand the importance of such a system.
Luckily, companies like American Holt give you some great options to allow you to take advantage of full assemblies and assembly kits. For starters, American Holt’s labor costs are extremely cheap, immediately undercutting the competition. More importantly, American Holt will make and ship you a complete assembly in record time. Why? Because we have more than twenty years of industry experience and an excellent quality control department, so we get every assembly right the first time, meaning you don’t need to absorb the costs of any failures or complex assemblies.
You can also take advantage of our exchange program, which allows you to send your old assemblies for a discount in exchange for a discount on new ones. Finally, for any assembly we sell, you can find labeled exploded views of them on our website to see exactly how to properly install our components.
Save on Downtime via Better Shipping
Shipping time is the bane of any purchasing manager. Nothing is more demoralizing than going to all the effort of placing your order only to find that the parts your factory needs won’t arrive for weeks. Of course, this is more than a nuisance. When you reach managerial positions, you realize that time really is money, and each moment wasted is a dollar (and usually more) out of your company’s pocket and income. In fact, factory downtime due to broken machinery is one of the biggest drains on your potential income you can face. And, while it’s easy to try to be prepared, you can’t anticipate broken machinery, so you can’t plan ahead to have a replacement part shipped to you on time.
So, with that in mind, one of the best ways to save on costs would be to ensure that you have a replacement parts supplier that ships quickly and reliably, without the need for a “rapid shipping” surcharge.
Factory downtime is the mortal enemy of anyone interested in making a profit. We’ve given you three ways to ensure cost savings in maintenance and reliability, especially in terms of factory downtime;
- Utilize Improved Materials, such as PEEK plastic
- Purchase Full Assemblies
- Reduce Lead Time
If you work to implement all three of these tips, you’ll find yourself saving a noticeable amount of money in the short term, and a lot of it in the long term. What’s more, American Holt can help you tackle each of these points; we utilize the best materials we can find, sell full assemblies, and pride ourselves on our lead time.