Reactive Vs. Proactive Corrective Actions in Manufacturing

When it comes to critical assets used during the manufacturing process, anomalies and equipment malfunction or failure are not uncommon. Actions that organizations take to prevent these from happening or prepare for when they do set successful manufacturers apart from the rest. There are two options when it comes to corrective actions – reactive and proactive.  

Reactive corrective actions are those taken after an issue occurs in order to remedy the situation. An example of reactive actions would be the maintenance and repair of a piece of equipment upon discovery of malfunction. Proactive actions, on the other hand, are taken before issues occur in an attempt to prevent them from happening or lessen the impact if they do. For manufacturing leaders, which is the best approach to take?

Benefits of Proactive Actions over Reactive Actions

The old saying goes – “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.” While that may apply in many situations, when it comes to advanced (and often, large) manufacturing equipment, waiting for an issue to occur isn’t recommended. Small issues, when left ignored, often lead to much bigger problems – generally costing more to repair as well. Taking a proactive approach has several advantages over the alternative. Those benefits include:

Lower Overall Maintenance Costs

A reactive maintenance approach often means that efforts aren’t taken unless the operator or company identifies a problem. In nearly all cases, costs to repair or replace a piece of equipment once this happens are far greater than they would have been if the proper proactive steps had been taken. Manufacturers who are consistently proactive in their efforts thus save money overall. In addition to savings in the actual cost of the repair, they also save by preventing unplanned downtime, where a machine can’t run and thus can’t produce.

Greater Productivity

Along those same lines, a proactive approach also leads to greater overall productivity for manufacturers. By limiting that unplanned downtime, owners and managers avoid the lapses in production as well. Reactive repairs and fixes most often take more time than their proactive counterparts, meaning machines are down for longer and the impact on production is high. Proactive actions can often be scheduled during existing planned downtime or times where reliance on a piece of equipment is low to avoid as much of an impact on productivity as possible.

Lower Total Cost of Ownership

Along with reactive fixes taking longer, they tend to also be more expensive. It’s important to consider this both at that moment, but also the effect of consistently making reactive corrective actions on the total cost of ownership of these machines. This total cost includes the purchase price, but also all maintenance and repair costs it accumulates throughout its lifespan.

Longer Asset Life Cycle

On the topic of machine lifespan, manufacturing leaders strive to extend this as long as possible. Manufacturing equipment often costs thousands or tens of thousands of dollars. Keeping them running longer spreads out that cost over time and means that the need for a replacement won’t happen more often than it should. It’s important not to forget about efficiency as well. Maintaining high efficiency requires the right proactive steps to prevent unnecessary wear or component damage.

IMCO’s Machine Learning Module Makes Proactive Actions Easy

In theory, taking proactive steps to prevent or lessen the need for corrective actions is great, but how does a manufacturer know what steps to take? One way of going about preventative maintenance is by following equipment manufacturer recommendations. Doing so, however, doesn’t take into account that much of the “recommended” maintenance is unnecessary because most equipment malfunctions occur randomly despite those efforts. In fact, according to research conducted by Boeing, 63% of all maintenance work orders based on manufacturers’ suggested schedules didn’t result in any corrective actions.  Following recommendations exactly is often unnecessary and causes more problems than it fixes.

Rather than use blanket recommendations as strict rules for proactive efforts, there is an alternative that instead relies on actual data from the machine itself – predicting these failures so operators can take the steps to prevent or prepare for them.  

Computer Learning (or Machine Learning) generally refers to the use of technology to make decisions and solve problems. In manufacturing, it can be used to predict the maintenance needed on a piece of equipment rather than reacting with repair efforts once an issue arises. IMCO’s Computer Learning software learns about a machine via data acquisition and analysis through FactoryAI, which takes into account many conditions to predict when malfunctions are likely to occur.

Over time it can predict equipment failures and alert operators of required preventative maintenance to avoid those failures and eliminate unplanned downtime. The Event Predictor aspect of the module used algorithms to determine when maintenance/quality events are likely to happen in a way that far exceeds humans in terms of accuracy. Among its many features, the software offers:

  • Real-time Analytics & Machine Learning
  • Full Visibility of Maintenance Events (integrated with the production schedule)
  • Video recording
  • Data Visualization and Reporting
  • Remote Access Capabilities

Computer Learning offers an easy way to choose proactive efforts instead of reactive corrective actions. Using past data to predict problems before they happen is a dream come true for machine owners and operators. Not implementing a computer learning solution is both detrimental to productivity and costly to owners – both in maintenance costs and lost production revenue.

If your goals for 2022 include gaining greater control over your assets’ lifecycles, reducing unplanned downtime, and becoming more proactive when it comes to equipment corrective actions, we’d love to chat about implementing a computer learning solution to transform your shop floor. We can demonstrate our advanced tech solutions, review results from the implementation of those solutions across a variety of industries, and discuss your specific needs to create a customized solution designed specifically with your business in mind.  Contact us today to get started.

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