Maximising Uptime: Top 10 Strategies for Manufacturers to Reduce Downtime Costs in 2024

SSG Insight
  • Published date: 19 February 2024
  • Author: SSG Insight

A report by Senseye revealed that unplanned downtime cost manufacturers at least 50% more in 2022 than it did between 2019-2020, with an hour of unplanned downtime said to cost over $2m in an automotive plant*. Furthermore, it’s estimated that the impact of downtime on British manufacturing is more than £180bn per year, and increased inflation and production lines working at higher capacities were said to be contributing factors to this heightened cost. A recent Value of Reliability survey released by ABB also found that unplanned outages cost the typical Australian business almost $349,000 AUD per hour**.


In the current climate, manufacturers will be trying to seek new ways of improving uptime to reduce the loss of productivity and revenue. We have put together our top 10 considerations for improving your processes and increasing uptime: 

1. Effective Maintenance of Equipment 

A key method for preventing downtime is to ensure components are kept clean and well maintained. Although a basic resolution, many people may look past the need for regular inspections, cleaning and maintenance, which can lead to equipment degradation and failures. Our Agility software supports manufacturers globally to maintain assets regularly, using predictive and preventative maintenance, helping to reduce breakdowns, and in turn costs.


2. Analysing Downtime 

Manufacturers can find very valuable information when they analyse unscheduled downtime, including the volume of downtime they are experiencing, the cause of downtime, the cost (of fixing machinery and loss of production), areas for improvement, and trends in machinery. Use this data to make data-driven decisions and make targeted improvements, for increased asset lifecycles and profitability, and to calculate the overall effectiveness of equipment. Transform your manual reporting into automated analytics, with engaging reports and dashboards in Agility. Each report is customisable, allowing you to select the information you would like to include.


3. Preventative Maintenance/Scheduled Maintenance 

Implementing an effective preventative maintenance plan is a key method to improving uptime, and should include an asset inventory, asset maintenance history, prioritisation, and KPIs. It is important to include what you want to achieve from carrying out preventative maintenance, and how this aligns with your business goals. In Agility, you can easily plan preventive maintenance, whilst ensuring critical parts and suitable resource are available to complete the relevant jobs.


4. Predictive Maintenance 

Integrate IoT devices, such as heat or vibration sensors, to collect real-time data and identify anomalies in your assets. This will allow you to effectively schedule maintenance checks on machinery to conduct a root cause analysis for the prevention of machines failures and breakdowns. By analysing patterns and trends in your condition-based maintenance data, maintenance can be scheduled at a suitable time, before the machinery fails, allowing unplanned downtime to be kept to a minimum, and productivity levels can be maintained. Agility integrates with IoT devices and any external business system, centralising your data and making reporting easier.


5. Maintaining your Spare Parts Inventory 

It is important to maintain your spare parts inventory, by ensuring you have adequate critical spare parts to facilitate quick repairs and replacements. If an anomaly or problem is detected, and you don’t have the spare part to fix it, this will increase the amount of downtime, and have a knock-on effect on productivity levels. In Agility, engineers can easily issue and return parts, ensuring the inventory levels are always correct. Purchase orders can be created when a spare part hits the minimum stock quantity threshold, enabling sufficient time for stock to be replenished.


6. Equipment Upgrades and Modernisation 

Analysing your data is important for evaluating the performance and efficiency of your current machinery. If a piece of machinery or equipment is breaking down a lot, or regularly needing parts changed, it may be more cost-effective to upgrade or replace outdated machinery for improved reliability and uptime.


7. Benchmarking 

Compare your downtime with industry benchmarks to identify areas for improvement. If your downtime is much higher than the benchmark, it may require a deeper investigation into where the root of the problem is. Benchmarking can also provide more insight into maintenance practices, asset tracking, and other factors that you may want to consider that affect equipment uptime and reliability.


8. Regular Audits 

It is important to conduct regular audits of your manufacturing processes and equipment, to ensure you are remaining compliant with best practices and industry standards. Audits can also focus on the quality of products being manufactured; if products are faulty, this may help to identify an area throughout the production process where there is an issue.


9. Invest in Technology 

Technology is continually evolving, and so it is important to invest in it as it can help you spot patterns and anomalies in your machinery before manual checks will. Make sure to keep up with the latest technology and consider investments in Industry 4.0 solutions (including IoT devices) and cloud-based systems, to benefit from real-time monitoring of your assets.


10. Continuous Improvement 

Our final consideration is to foster a culture of continuous improvement within your workforce. Encourage employees to be proactive in seeking ways to optimise processes and enhance operational efficiencies.


If you would like to understand more about how Agility can support your organisation to increase uptime, please complete the form below and a member of the team will be in touch.


*The full Senseye report can be found here

**The ABB survey results can be found here

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