An unexpectedly idle production line in the automotive industry costs manufacturers over £17,000 a minute, per line or almost £1 million an hour. Annually servicing equipment by programming software and calibrating or replacing parts ensures metrology systems are running as efficiently as possible and not causing unexpected downtime. Here, Simon Atherton, head of service at industrial metrology provider The Sempre Group, discusses the importance of servicing and advises on where manufacturers can make improvements.
Carrying out proactive, rather than reactive, servicing on equipment allows manufacturers to focus on their productivity, instead of fixing unreliable machines and managing unexpected downtime.
Irregular servicing and calibration of equipment leaves manufacturers open to the uncertainty of results and expensive repercussions, such as recalling faulty products, which can have a long-lasting impact on the company’s reputation. Consider this example — a medical device manufacturer hasn’t calibrated their Micro-Vu Excel for a while, so it’s inaccurately measuring multiple stents at a time. The defect goes undetected, so these non-compliant stents are fitted into patients’ arteries and fail to keep blocked passageways open, putting the patient at serious risk. Is cutting servicing costs really worth these dangerous repercussions?
Once manufacturers have identified faulty equipment, they must act quickly to resolve the issue and avoid expensive downtime. Manufacturers may choose to use same day or 24/7 callout engineers to solve issues quickly, but these callouts can be far more costly per hour. Alternatively, choosing to troubleshoot problems in-house and buying replacement parts when needed can further extend periods of downtime and increase maintenance costs as engineers spend time maintaining equipment and sourcing parts.
Invest in quality
Manufacturers might think carrying out their own servicing could cut callout costs but investing in an experienced service team will save more. Fewer, but timelier, calibrations prevents inexperienced engineers accidentally damaging expensive components and reduces the number of costly emergency repairs required. Servicing metrology equipment also requires specialist calibration artifacts that can cost thousands, so manufacturers may not want to take on these costs by servicing in-house. We suggest hiring an experienced and trained servicing team, like The Sempre Group’s, who ensure that all quality management systems are ISO 9001 compliant, putting manufacturers at ease that their systems are always accurate.
At a time when manufacturers want to cut costs, it might seem difficult to take the leap of faith and invest in servicing, but it is a risk that will always pay off. Manufacturers can start their servicing journey by contacting a servicing team to discuss their specific needs, from training staff on how to use equipment correctly to achieving UKAS accredited calibration on a Micro-VU. Some servicing teams, like The Sempre Group’s, offer a range of services, such as 24-hour remote support, to ensure they receive the best results and provide the best customer experience. Annual visits for calibration and servicing also ensure that the customer’s systems are running optimally.
Accurate metrology equipment allows manufacturers to assess data to pre-empt equipment issues, reduce the amount of unexpected downtime and avoid the millions of pounds that could be lost per hour. Working closely with a servicing team allows an expert to focus on ensuring equipment is reliable and accurate, while the manufacturing team can focus on producing quality goods.