In the manufacturing industry, the availability and reliability of production equipment, such as machines, devices, or automation, are directly related to the fulfillment of your production objectives. The primary objective is to comply with requirements for quantity, quality, time, and safety at the lowest possible cost. When the productive means stop working due to a breakdown, it is of vital importance that the maintenance technician provides a fast, reliable solution that returns the operating conditions to normal.

In order to restore a system to its optimal operating conditions, the corrective intervention must be carried out by attacking the root cause of the failure to prevent it from occurring again in the short term. That is, action must be taken to address the causes rather than alleviating the consequences that will cause an error to recur. To eliminate the root cause of a failure, an efficient diagnosis of the causes must be made, and the best way to achieve this is to work in a methodical and, as far as possible, standardized way.

What is a failure or breakdown?

When production equipment ceases to perform one or more of its functions long before the end of its useful life, it is said to have failed. These failures can cause losses, unforeseen plant shutdowns, and increased maintenance and repair costs. That’s why in many cases, the field failure analysis process is very important.

The facilities where products are manufactured vary enormously and coexist with a wide range of risks. Various factors of various natures can contribute to a failure or cause an accident in the manufacturing industry, which can lead to personal injury or even death. There is a diverse range of unique risks that we must assess, which is proportional to the wide variety of industrial equipment used. To cite just a few examples, machines for handling materials, metal fabrication, the production of food and beverages, compressors, mixers, ovens, and centrifuges. 

The most common causes of failures in the field of manufacturing are due to poor training, the work methods used, and the maintenance, design, and reliability of the equipment. In addition, the machinery and technology used in these facilities change and adapt quickly, which implies a need for constant updating of safety, operation, and maintenance protocols. 

Within factories, many processes can go wrong or lead to inefficiencies. 

For example: 

The flow of material in a factory is critical. How it is distributed, where and how it is delivered, and how it is handled upon arrival at its destination – each part of the process is an important factor. The design of the plant also determines the efficiency of its operations. You want trips that require little time, enough space to operate safely, and material handling systems that allow products to be moved when necessary. They also have a great impact on the work environment, factors such as lighting, temperature, cleanliness, the design of the space, and the appropriate tools.

It is vitally important that workers have proper knowledge of the equipment and materials, that there is a clear maintenance record, and that employees are qualified and undergo ongoing training. In this context, knowing how to do equipment downtime tracking is a valuable asset. 

Looking at this partial list, we become aware of the fact that the facilities where products are manufactured are very complex. Understanding this complexity is critical when investigating accidents, fires, or manufacturing failures due to the multiple factors that come into play at these locations. Equipment often requires safety mechanisms to protect the worker. In this case, it is necessary to understand the interaction of the workers with the machines, the work methods used by them, and the level of training that each worker has. 

Many accidents are due to the equipment used to handle the materials (e.g., conveyors, forklifts, dollies). Injuries that occur on the job require extensive knowledge of the equipment, the facilities, and how they are part of the manufacturing process.

In any type of facility, professional engineers can work with you to analyze the failure, accident, or safety conditions to understand what went wrong and why. A multidisciplinary team has experts who can decide on breakdown maintenance procedures, and identify electrical, mechanical, material, or process problems, in order to determine how to mitigate the failure in question and prevent similar incidents from happening again.