Keeping your business ticking over is a core objective of any senior manager. Lost time is notoriously expensive and can mean the difference between making a profit or taking a loss.
Unfortunately, a lot of owners don’t know the basics of achieving good uptime and, therefore, are missing out on being as successful as they could be.
In this post, we take a look at some proven methods for boosting business uptime and putting your businesses back on the straight and narrow. Here’s what to do:
Set Improvement Goals
Before you start making any material changes to your business, you’ll need to set some improvement goals. These are the standards that you’re aspiring for in the future.
For instance, your uptime might be 95 percent right now, but your goal might be to improve that steadily to 99 percent.
Review Your KPIs
The next step is to review your key performance indicators. It is hard to measure whether your uptime is improving if you don’t have metrics that you can turn to to prove your point.
Start by setting out some KPIs that are relevant to your increased uptime objective. Then write a document communicating to your team how you will measure improvements in uptime. Discuss the theory behind your strategy and how to determine the proper setting of rates.
Use Overall Equipment Effectiveness
If you want to drive profitability, it is critical to use overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) standards. These break your losses into various components, designed to show you where you’re missing out and what you need to improve. What’s great about OEE is how it combines different dimensions to reveal to you just how poorly you are utilizing your current equipment. Combining factors such as performance, availability and quality often results in OEEs of less than 50 percent, meaning that you could potentially double your uptime and efficiency with the right approach.
Engage In Planned Maintenance And Downtime
No matter how good your equipment or vehicles are, the need for maintenance never goes away. That’s why it’s critical to engage in planning maintenance and prevent systems from breaking down during the course of normal operation.
Fleet operators can click here to learn more about truck maintenance. The idea is to step in early, before further damage is done, fix the vehicle, and then send it back out on the road, reducing overall repair costs.
Factory owners can benefit from this approach, too. Moving from reactive to preventative maintenance can dramatically reduce costs and avoid dreaded instances of unscheduled downtime.
Get Management Buy-In
It can be challenging to improve uptime without management buy-in. The trick here is to use the metrics that you collect in the above steps to show them that there is real room for improvement. For instance, senior executives are often surprised to discover that OEE is below 50 percent, incentivising them to set aside money to invest in improvements.
Management needs to accept the notion that their current strategy has weaknesses. Businesses don’t always operate at peak efficiency, even if everyone looks busy.
Managers should also be aware of the potential improvements in the financial position of the firm. For instance, take a business earning $10 million a year in revenues and with $8 million in costs. If OEE can improve from 40 percent to 80 percent, then equipment costs will halve, perhaps leading to profits of $6 million instead of just $2 million.
Once senior executives understand that business uptime is critical for effective operations, they are much more likely to get onboard.
Automate Your Data Collection
Manually collecting uptime data is possible, but not advised. You’re liable to miss instances of downtime or fail to accurately convey your total business uptime over time, leading to wildly inaccurate estimates.
The trick here is to automate the process. Putting sensors on your equipment and linking it to a central piece of software allows you to put all the pieces together in the background, avoiding the need to dedicate scarce labor to the problem.
The good news is that in recent times, the number of solutions available offering this type of functionality has grown exponentially. What’s more, many of them are industry-specific, meaning that it is easy to see where you are going wrong.
Implement Roles-Based Dashboards
Once you have your automated data collection system set up, the next step is to find ways to share that information effectively with relevant stakeholders in your organization.
Ideally, you want solutions that make it easy for individual employees to drill down into the data and see where things are going wrong. The software must be sufficiently sophisticated to provide workers with actionable next steps so that they can make real changes in the business.
Analyze Your Results
After you’ve collected the data and begun putting in place methods for improving uptime, you’ll want to track results to see if you are making any progress.
Most companies adopt a scoring process showing them how close they are to their targets, and precisely where they would like to be. For instance, if they want a fleet uptime of 90 percent, they will score themselves based on how close they are getting to that figure.
Whenever you analyze results, it is critical to get the people on the ground involved. You need to work with associates and technicians who understand the changes that need to be carried out and where you are going wrong. This level of communication is absolutely essential for long-term success. For instance, operatives may be able to tell you when downtime is occurring, perhaps during shift personnel changes or because of a bottleneck in the production process.
Champion Improvements That Work
Lastly, once you find strategies that make a difference in your overall uptime, champion them to the rest of the team. Promote them in a similar way you might promote health and safety in the workplace. Let employees know that by adopting the techniques you set out, they’re making a real difference to both their productivity and value to the firm.