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How Manufacturers Reduce Unplanned Downtime with Simulation Software
We at Hagerman know unplanned downtime can be a major issue in manufacturing plant operations, and simulation software plays a significant role in reducing its negative effects. Before we get into how, though, we want to take a close look at what some firms are facing with downtime.
According to Vanson Bourne, a leading independent research firm, 70 percent of organizations don’t understand when manufacturing equipment is due for maintenance. Poor maintenance is often the major driver of unplanned downtime. The study also revealed 74 percent don’t truly know when they should replace equipment.
One key best practice we identified with simulation software for manufacturers, is using the software to better understand equipment life cycles, durability, and the feasibility of future equipment investments.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the benefits of simulation software for manufacturers as it relates to reducing downtime and increasing overall plant productivity.
3 Use Cases of Simulation Software for Manufacturing Plants
Usually a manufacturer would begin pinpointing weak areas in the manufacturing process by evaluating the equipment itself. Though that’s a good place to start, other areas of analysis may yield results that provide a broader and more accurate picture of the source of downtime. Manufacturers may also want to take a look at ways to:
Predict part replacement costs: When we look at unplanned downtime, we often find equipment fails when parts aren’t replaced at the right intervals. As an example, a microprocessor manufacturer ran into this problem, and it used simulation software to predict wear and tear of specific parts with its equipment. They created what-if scenarios to measure the life of a part against their production schedules. This allowed them to predict how many parts they would need to maintain continuous plant productivity. Once the manufacturer had accurate predictions in place, the firm had a stronger negotiating position when purchasing parts for their plants. Simulation software helped this manufacturer maintain uptime and better manage costs.
Provide a score for production lines based on performance: With larger operations, it can be a challenge to identify just what may be causing downtime. In these instances, manufacturers apply simulations to each of their lines. As they monitor those lines, they’re able to rank which ones experience the most unplanned downtime. The key to revealing plant performance is using historical factory data to run simulations over a specific period of time. In this case, the manufacturer set the simulation for one month. This approach allowed them to create the historical data they needed to make decisions that would increase plant efficiency.
Measure staffing capabilities: Some firms limit manufacturing simulations to equipment only. We encourage companies to expand their possibilities when using simulation software. It’s so versatile you can use simulation software to predict how staffing limitations may cause bottlenecks and unplanned downtime.
In a well-known industry example, a manufacturer used a clean room that had to be staffed by at least one attendant at all times. The manufacturer mapped the production line process with simulation software and identified the clean room as a bottleneck. It was a source of unplanned downtime if the attendant was unavailable due to staffing availability. By using simulation software, the company measured the impact of eliminating the clean room and found they could increase throughput by re-assigning the attendant.
Getting the Most Out of Plant Simulations
These examples highlight key best practices, but the benefits of simulation software for manufacturing outfits extends beyond these three instances into:
Predicting the impact of plant process changes prior to investment.
Measuring the ROI of planned improvements to plant operations.
Anticipating average order backlogs and ways to eliminate them.
Testing production concepts in a low-risk environment.
Troubleshooting early in the planning process.
To get the most out of plant simulations, consider identifying the critical components within a system to develop a model, test variables, correctly interpret results, and extract the most pertinent insights from the analysis for implementation.
We know the right process to model and the most impactful variables to test. Hagerman simulation experts specialize in computational fluid dynamics (CFD) for manufacturing plant optimization. This helps manufacturers better understand airflow and temperature, resulting in machines that operate in the design temperature envelope that will help minimize equipment failure.
We are an extension of your engineering team, ensuring you get the highest value out of plant simulations.