How to Minimize Idle Time During Business Operations Maintenance

Maintenance managers are constantly faced with the need to “do more in less time.” Many try to tackle this issue by identifying ways to cut the cost of labor. Many have put in place labor measurement systems to gauge employees’ productivity, while others have taken it one step further and added incentive-based systems of pay to encourage more productivity.

But, very few have taken the time to study and manage one of the essential components of labor costs that are indirect or idle time.

Being a perfect maintenance management example, each distribution facility has its tasks that are not of value that are essential to support the operation’s efficiency and others that arise because of process issues or bottlenecks.

Minimize Idle Time During Business Operations Maintenance
Minimize Idle Time During Business Operations Maintenance

In the past, management teams have budgeted these indirect hours as a proportion of productive hours, but many factors — including the absence of a detailed tracking system and the utilization for general buckets of time and associates’ naive the definition of “productive” — hinder them from managing idle hours effectively.

Before discussing the strategies to minimize idle time, let’s define what is maintenance management?

Maintenance management is the process that is structured and implemented to ensure that resources and assets function effectively and efficiently. The aim of the maintenance management process is to ensure that the overall efficiency of equipment (OEE) up and efficiently uses resources.

How to Minimize Idle Time During Business Operations Maintenance

Idle time refers to when assets do not perform their function even when they are in use. Companies can reduce idle time and reduce costs by identifying reasons behind unplanned equipment failures and adopting strategic solutions. By carefully evaluating their internal processes and practices, companies can identify opportunities which helps to minimize idle time. This includes:

Identifying bottlenecks

where there is a lot of work being processed at once; a bottleneck allows too much work to be completed at once. A good example of this is the case where a batch job runs overnight due to an error. Other examples include a single processing line that takes too long to complete a product and a shortage of materials. These are often called “bottlenecks” because they stop production until they can be fixed.

Improve communication lines

As previously mentioned, incorrect work instructions can lead to idle time. It’s crucial to ensure that teams have correct, up-to-date, and readily available work instructions to complete their tasks. Utilizing work order chat apps for work orders simplifies communications by keeping private messages team messaging and comments on work orders in a central place.

Correcting errors

If a mistake occurs when processing something, the result may be a failure that requires extra resources to correct. For instance, if a defective part is shipped out before the manufacturing schedule, then it will require additional steps to fix it.

The best way to reduce the number of mistakes is to ensure that all details are reviewed before finalizing the workflow. The second best method is to assign one or two people to review each detail. The last option would be to use automated software programs to detect flaws. Automation should only be considered after the other methods have been tried and ineffective.

Investing in a CMMS

idle time is the period where assets do not perform their function regardless of their availability to use. Companies can cut down on idle time and cut costs by identifying sources of equipment failures and adopting strategic solutions. The most effective method to monitor idle times is using the use of a computerized maintenance control system (CMMS).

CMMS offers busy managers live updates on the status of work orders, KPIs, key performance indicators (KPIs), and inventory availability. It also assists in improving operations by providing digital procedure templates, team messages, and commenting on work orders.

Improving flow

There are several reasons why a piece of equipment or material might run slow. If an operator does not correctly understand how to operate the machine, a defect could cause it to fail. If there aren’t enough materials available, parts could not be built quickly.

Finally, some operations take longer than planned because of scheduling conflicts or other unforeseen circumstances. Companies can learn to improve the flow by ensuring that processes occur in order. Also, they should allow enough time before starting tasks so that the necessary tools and machines get ready before the task starts.

Define the process for capturing (e.g., papers, logs, or RF device’s date codes). Data collection is heavily dependent on the associates and the capabilities of current systems. No matter what method is used, associates must realize that accurate and precise information is essential to ensuring adequate pay for the tasks they do every day. It is also essential to have procedures for resolving mistakes and minimizing inaccurate reports.

Create a procedure for reviewing and assembling information.

In most firms, the person in charge of this is usually a supervisor on the front line (or office assistant). Although this portion of the process takes the time required for management, it also enhances productivity. Analyses should be looking for patterns that indicate specific inefficiencies. The more thorough the tracking done by employees is, the easier it will be to pinpoint and overcome obstacles to greater productivity.

Training the front-line supervisors.

Supervisors must understand their roles go beyond simple administrative duties. This implies increasing their presence rather than “managing” through an electronic screen. Some bottlenecks need the immediate attention of an on-floor supervisor who can swiftly address the issue to prevent the possibility of idle time.

It doesn’t matter if the issue is the bottleneck, safety, or efficiency; having a trained floor supervisor can be the difference between great and average processes.

Training associates on indirect time and how to track.

Although training should concentrate on the steps and fundamental instructions to implement a new time tracking initiative, employees must also be aware of how the program can benefit them.

Eliminating bottlenecks in an organization that uses incentive-based compensation directly benefits them. If they can spend more time on productive tasks and spend less time doing nothing, their improved efficiency is usually reflected in increased incentives paid.

Final words

There are a lot of things that contribute to idle times. By taking inventory of your processes and practices, you can minimize idle time now. But, ultimately, it is up to you to determine what exactly contributes to your company’s idle time so that you can implement procedures that help to eliminate the problem.