Tracking, analyzing and eliminating downtime from your processes can deliver a huge return on your investment. Trying to get approval for a million dollar solution or multi-thousand dollar solution, even with a big return, can be difficult in these tough economic times to say the least. Here is a scalable list of possible solutions that can fit every budget. You can start small and inexpensive and ramp up to more expensive and technically complex solutions. You don’t start over – you just improve what you already have.

The lower the investment the quicker the return financially and easier it is to get approval.

First, let’s talk about what you would like in your downtime tracking system.

What is your objective:
improving performance by eliminating downtime? 

or creating an Accounting System to list the problems? Thinking accounting is a major contributor to why efforts stall and eventually fail…the details will drive you nuts!

You can achieve both but improving performance is easier, quicker and provides the biggest bang for buck! Instead of accounting for every second of downtime, just estimating the minutes can still give you the results you desire. Being down 21.5 minutes and recording 20 minutes will still give you a level of severity for that event. When you analyze your downtime, the data will be accurate enough to make informed decisions. The key piece of data is the root cause of the downtime.

The job of a good downtime application is to Quantify and Qualify each event.

Quantify – How bad is it? It is measuring the severity so that when deciding what to work on first, it provides a weighting factor helping you to make the right decision. Measures of severity might be minutes down, cases not produced, or cost of event. Having more measures of severity can add clarity to the decision making process.

Qualify – What was going on at the time of the event? Root cause is an important part of tracking and eliminating downtime. I like to say that a root cause should tell you what to fix or at least what to work on. When a cause like E-Stop is your biggest downtime cause, how do you know what to go fix? So make sure that the root cause list you provide gets to the “Root” of the problem. 

A good test of your Root Cause assignment is “Do we know what to work on?” 

In addition to root cause, it is important to collect and record supporting data like shift, team, product, customer, raw material and even process settings. Collecting this type of information will provide you with the ability to slice and dice events to see your data in a variety of ways. – all of which will help you make informed decisions.

Remember if you don’t collect it when it happens then you can’t analyze by it later!

Before we start on talking about building a Downtime application, let’s first try to establish a cost of a downtime event to assist in the calculation of ROI – Return on Investment. Money always talks in manufacturing! Don’t worry about the figures being 100% accurate – call it a guesstimate!

Example: We make cookies 

We sell them at $1 a cookie

We make 40% or 40 cents on every cookie we produce

Our line produces 1000 cookies per hour (60 minutes)

So what does every minute of downtime in the cookie making process costs us (margin)?

· Rate/Min = (1000/hr) / 60 minutes or 16.6 per minute

· Cost per minute = 16.6 cookies per minute times 40 cents per cookie profit or $6.60/minute 

So for every minute our process is down, we are not making a $6.60 profit. In hours, that is about $400/hr.

Here is how we would calculate the cost of a single stop on our cookie line using the profit per minute we just determined and adding a standard stop charge of $135  (clean out of in process materials) applied to each stop.

(135 {Standard Stop Charge} + (Minutes down * 6.60 {Cost per Minute})

This calculation will provide the best results as it is influenced by the standard rate per stop and the per minute profit figure.

Use the same approach using your operation and come up with a per minute guesstimate loss.

Now for the bean counters, yes there are other factors that would affect the cost of downtime but we agreed above that it was just a guesstimate, remember? Cost Accounts can develop an average cost per hour for downtime based on a variety of factors – (product mix, productive rates, margins, material losses and maintenance costs to fix equipment etc.) – that would provide a more accurate cost of downtime. You can use these figures when you decide on the right solution.

The simple Downtime Application:

All data is collected manually after the event is complete. Using features like the use of Input/Output files make the capturing of repetitive data like Team, Shift and Product simple and quick – if they haven’t changed, move on. QW Popup fields provide the user with a predefined list of questions and answers making the capturing of the Root Cause and the supporting data a quick and accurate task. Recording the minutes down is the last task and you are done. QW 5 always provides two measures of severity when looking at a Tri-eto of Downtime events – Frequency and Minutes down. Adding a third measure is simple. You can use the Cost per minute value you created in the ROI calculation to give you an estimated cost of the stop. 

This application can be created in a few hours. It all depends on the size and complexity of your Root Cause Popup. 

Return on Investment

Note: The Standard stop charge was not included in the ROI calculation examples below as the number of stops is not known.

· One Copy Quality Window 5 = $749 

· Consulting- 8 hrs x $200/hr = $1600 (optional: create Application and provide support as required) 

· Cost recovery per minute (above) $6.60

· Payback is in 1.89 hours or 5.9 hours with consulting added in

Upgrade: Add a Minutes Down Timer

You can have Quality Window time the event for you. By adding the timer option, the operator just has to hit the A-add key when an the process stops. The timer will start and it will continue until the operator hits the Enter key again. The Add data screen will be displayed with Minutes Down pre-filled from the Timer.

Return on Investment – Per Line

· One Copy Quality Window 5 = $749 

· Cost recovery per minute (above) $6.60

· Consulting- 8 hrs x $200/hr = $1600 (optional: create Application and provide support as required) 

· Payback is in 1.89 hours or 5.9 hours with consulting added in

Add Automation (Not on machine PLC’s)– simple low cost! – QWScheduler

Automating downtime collection can come in two forms. The first is the use of an inexpensive device called an ADU. It simply sits waiting for something to happen and then sends a signal. This signal, when a downtime event occurs, tells the QWScheduler (utility program that comes with QW5) module to start a timer internally. When the line starts up again the ADU sends another signal to QWScheduler and the timer is stopped and a downtime record is added to the Downtime Application. The operator then updates the record with Root Cause and related information.

Return on Investment – Per Line

· One Copy Quality Window 5 = $749 

· Analog to digital converter Unit (ADU) ~$500 

o $250 per ADU

o cabling and sensors $250

· Consulting- 8 hrs x $200/hr = $1600 

· Cost recovery per minute (above) $6.60

· Payback is in 7.19 hours of downtime eliminated

Add Automation – PLC/Automation system interface

To establish a link between QWScheduler and the PLC Network, we recommend the use of QWDataHub. QWDataHub would be configured to monitor the necessary PLC addresses through an IO Server Gateway to the PLC Network. By setting up QWDataHub, it ensures data is not lost. QWDataHub maintains the current values for selected PLC addresses. 

To install and configure QWDataHub you would typically require:

· An IT Resource – configure computers and interfaces to Automation/PLC systems

· An E&I Resource to identify PLC Tag addresses and configure IO Servers for acquiring the data

QWScheduler would then be configured to use the addresses captured by QWDataHub to capture and time the downtime events as they occur. 

Return on Investment – Per Line

· One Copy Quality Window 5 $749 

· Consulting- 8 hrs x $200/hr = $1600 QWDataHub – $2499

· IO Server – one per Automation system source $1500

· Cost recovery per minute (above) $6.60

· Payback is in 16.03 hours of downtime eliminated

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