How to Minimize Machine Downtime with RoboDK

What could your business achieve if you could minimize downtime?

Downtime is an inevitable part of any manufacturing process. But too much downtime can quickly add up. If you aren’t careful, your downtime will lead to lost production and profits.

There are various ways to reduce downtime in a manufacturing business, including upgrading equipment and creating a technology plan.

One particularly effective way to reduce downtime in a business is to use robotic offline programming software. This allows you to program your robots offline, without having to be connected to the physical robot controller. You can thus carry out programming tasks without disrupting the operation of the robot. This reduces the downtime usually caused by programming.

If you want to minimize your downtime as much as possible, it helps to understand what causes that downtime.

Here’s a clear introduction…

What Is Machine Downtime?

Machine downtime refers to the amount of time that a machine is not able to be used for its intended purpose. Downtime can be caused by many factors, including maintenance, repairs, or simply waiting for a new part to be delivered to the machine.

You can’t remove all downtime completely. However, too much downtime can quickly lead to lost profits. Every moment that a machine is not performing productive work is potentially wasted time.

Sometimes, machine downtime occurs because of mechanical failures, such as a broken part or malfunctioning component. However, this is comparatively rare and easy to avoid with a regular maintenance schedule.

An even more common source of machine downtime is just not using the machine to its full potential. When the machine is being operated manually, this can happen when the operator is doing more tasks than they can handle. So they regularly leave the machine sitting idle. Human error is also one of the most common causes of downtime.

Robots are a good way to reduce this type of downtime. However, robot programming itself can introduce further downtime.

The Downside of Too Much Downtime

You should not overlook the impact of downtime on your business. Even small amounts of unnecessary downtime can lead to increased expenses and reduced productivity.

How much could downtime cost your manufacturing business?

The financial impact can vary depending on the industry, but it is always costly. For example, downtime costs the automotive industry around $22,000 USD per minute, according to a Thomas survey.

But the negative impacts of machine downtime are not limited to finances.

Other potential negative consequences of downtime can include:

  • Loss of productivity and profits: When machines are down, you can’t produce anything. This reduces your productivity and can end up eating into your profits.
  • Delays in production: The delays in orders can lead to angry customers and lost business.
  • Harming the company’s reputation: Frustrated customers will eventually leave and go to one of your competitors, and they are unlikely ever to return to you.
  • Poor customer service: If customers have to wait for orders because of downtime, there is little your customer service team can do, leading to overall frustration from both employees and customers.
  • Lowered workforce morale: When machine downtime leads to workers being constantly unable to keep up with orders, it becomes stressful and can harm morale in the company.

5 Common Causes of Machine Downtime

What causes machine downtime? There are many potential causes, but some are more common than others.

Here are 5 common causes of machine downtime:

1. Human Error

Probably the top cause of machine downtime is human error. Either people use the machines wrongly or their busy workload leads to the machine lying idle for longer than necessary.

Using robots can help to reduce the effect of human error by removing excess tasks from the hands of workers.

2. Equipment Malfunctions

Sometimes, machines break down or stop working as intended. When this happens, you need to repair them.

You can reduce equipment malfunctions by having a good maintenance program.

3. Unavailable Parts

A lack of inventory, parts, or other resources can hinder production. Having a well-stocked inventory can help, but it isn’t always enough.

When you give a task to a robot, this can give your workers more mental bandwidth to check inventory and product flow more regularly, helping them to ensure they don’t run out of inventory.

4. Employee Shortages

Many businesses are suffering from labor shortages right now. Such shortages can slow down or stop production, as there are not enough operators to fulfill tasks.

Robots can help minimize the impact of employee shortages by helping you get more from the workers you already have.

5. Underutilization

When you don’t use your machines to their full potential, you are potentially leaving money on the table by not producing as much or as efficiently as you could.

Offline programming can help to minimize downtime in this case. You can optimize your robot program to get as much from your machines as possible.

How to Minimize Machine Downtime With Offline Programming

Robot offline programming software, like RoboDK, allows you to program robots without having to stop production. This means you can program your robots while they are still performing productive work.

Here are 5 steps to start minimizing machine downtime with RoboDK:

1) Download and install RoboDK.

2) Connect your robot to RoboDK using the Post Processor.

3) Create a program in RoboDK.

4) Test and improve your program on the virtual robot.

5) When the program is ready, upload it to your physical robot.

With offline programming, the only downtime is during the last step. This significantly reduces the impact of programming time compared to conventional robot programming, where the robot would stop production for the entire process.

If you want to keep your business running smoothly, you need to minimize downtime. And robot offline programming can be a very valuable tool to help you achieve that.

How does machine downtime currently affect your business? Tell us in the comments below or join the discussion on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or in the RoboDK Forum.. Also, check out our extensive video collection and subscribe to the RoboDK YouTube Channel

About Alex Owen-Hill

Alex Owen-Hill is a freelance writer and public speaker who blogs about a large range of topics, including science, presentation skills at, storytelling and (of course) robotics. He completed a PhD in Telerobotics from Universidad Politecnica de Madrid as part of the PURESAFE project, in collaboration with CERN. As a recovering academic, he maintains a firm foot in the robotics world by blogging about industrial robotics.

View all posts by Alex Owen-Hill