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Downtime: how much it costs and how to prevent it


Machine downtime is a typical situation that manufacturing companies have to deal with over time. Machine downtime interrupts production processes for reasons related to machinery maintenance, replacement or upgrades. Such activities are not damaging when they are planned; however, if not planned, they can lead to a series of issues, resulting in production stoppages and economic losses.

A number of factors can cause downtime, ranging from operational error and poor maintenance to materials that are unsuitable for the type of media and damaged hardware or software.

What are the costs of downtime for a company?

For multinationals, the potential costs of downtime range from hundreds to millions of euro per year. A US report revealed that an IT company can lose between $84,000 and $108,000 per hour during downtime. The same applies to manufacturing companies. For small and medium-sized companies, the costs are certainly lower, but they still have a significant impact on the budget (proportional to the downtime).

The same study looked at the consequences of downtime and found that loss of customer confidence is a common problem across all sectors.

How to prevent downtime

As mentioned above, planned downtime is not a problem for a company and can actually be good for productivity, whereas unplanned downtime can be particularly damaging. However, there are ways to reduce it (you can never entirely prevent unplanned downtime).

Making a machine status check

This is certainly not a simple task, but scheduling a check from time to time could avoid catastrophic consequences. Checking machinery and identifying obsolete equipment is a convenient means of prevention. Even the most advanced companies may have outdated machinery that is still working and performing well, but problems can arise when spare parts are required, which may be out of production and difficult to find. By performing a machinery audit, you will become aware of and be prepared for potential problems.

Train your staff properly

Downtime can also be caused by human error, due to a failure to follow procedures, something which can even occur with highly qualified personnel. The difference between a quick return to productivity and downtime largely depends on employees’ ability to handle an emergency. Training should not be limited to process knowledge, but should cover all production aspects, including unexpected stoppages.

Use highly efficient, resistant materials

Frequent causes of downtime include mechanical issues, such as rubberized rollers in the nonwoven fabric sector. Their traction is not suitable for such a light and slippery material, leading to jams. Left uncoated, rubber and plastic moulds can cause difficulties when detaching tyres and other products, damaging the appearance of the final object. By adopting Impreglon’s non-stick coatings, the use of release sprays can be reduced or eliminated depending on the situation.

By using suitable coatings for each type of product, you reduce the risk of mechanical downtime. Companies such as Impreglon fill the functional gap left in the coatings sector by proposing unique, customized solutions to suit different production requirements.

Not only is the quality of the materials important, their characteristics are as well. Depending on the industrial sector, some surfaces perform better than others. In line with the previous discussion, for example, nonwoven textiles or high-speed production cycles (e.g. adhesive tapes and nappies) require surface coatings with elevated traction and anti-adhesive properties. In the oil & gas sector, temperature-resistant and corrosion-resistant coatings are more suitable. Finally, in the food and packaging industries, ease of cleaning and non-stick properties represent added value.