Even basic equipment essential for keeping the warehouse organized must, therefore, be built to last. Here are some of the ways manufacturers are guarding against potential wear and tear.
When friction is applied, overlaying materials can be helpful in preventing abrasion over time. An overlay pipe can transfer hot fluids with temperatures commonly with resistances as 900 degrees or more, but ceramics and metals can be applied to other common objects around the warehouse to improve efficiency.
Wedges, for instance, are put under constant stress. Friction against other objects forces wedges apart but damages the components over time. Cutting tools are especially susceptible. Higher-quality materials are designed to stand up to that wear for longer.
Some equipment is designed to be modular and easy to replace. A pulley would be an example where multiple modular pieces make up one larger unit. Screws and levers hold the system together and allow for operation. The systems are built in such a way to allow for replacement of just those parts to ensure operation never ceases for long.
Routine maintenance is the best way to mitigate risk, which is one reason refineries schedule routine turnaround maintenance sessions. Such costs are carefully factored into budgets, but they also incrementally upgrade factories based on costs and urgency. It’s a smart approach to ensuring operations never fall too far behind.
Replacement isn’t the only approach to maintenance. Often, it begins with teaching employees how to utilize equipment as intended. Only specially trained employees should be operating the most valuable equipment, and proper procedure must be followed. Be sure to institute quality assurance with disciplinary systems in place to catch violations and correct them.
Machinery should also undergo frequent fault testing designed to catch problems before they spiral out of control. Fault tolerance refers to how much usage your machinery has left, and trained personnel can spot problems as they happen. Electrical maintenance is also important and often left by the wayside because it can be costly. However, most would agree that the costs of replacement climb even higher.
Put contingency planning into action so management can transition into a separate action-plan to minimize downtime. Perhaps production can shift to another part of the line, or rental equipment can be brought in to fill in the gaps.
Locate suppliers and negotiate on price well ahead of time. Be ready to “make the call” to make something happen. Time carries a great deal of meaning in manufacturing, and days of delay can set back fulfillment by weeks. Identify key personnel who will implement the new technology, who will operate it and how it will be tested prior to deployment.
Plan for downtime if you want to find success in manufacturing. Breakdowns occur frequently enough that key employees should be trained for malfunctions, and the business should have a plan to transition operations. Set aside costs and consider investing in insurance as well as plating designed to reduce abrasion and wear.
If you can extend equipment functionality by a few months, you have saved potentially thousands in supply chain risk. Consider those savings as you balance costs and budget for the year.
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