An underestimated aspect of productivity is the reliability of the equipment we are using. Whether the equipment is heavy equipment used in manufacturing, supply chain, fulfillment and distribution, or whether our equipment is data center reliability. The reliability of the tools we rely on is critical.
There are four critical factors to consider when addressing equipment reliability.
1. Up Time
In general, in the Toyota Production System, there is a higher value on the the prevention of equipment problems than having an amazing ability to repair equipment. When the machines we rely on break, there is an immediate impact on productivity and revenue.
Changeover of a piece of equipment is important for continued flexibility and capital savings. Having the ability for quicker changeovers and lower set-up times means that the firm will be able to produce sooner and take greater advantage of the capital costs associated with the equipment.
It’s important that the equipment we use produce quality product. This means that we must know and standardize settings so that the outcome is the same every time. Only then can we improve upon the settings and optimize the equipment to produce better parts. It’s important to standardize settings on the equipment and if we adjust them, we must be very systematic in what we are doing – this means we document and we are conscious of learning as we adjust.
A key concept in Lean Manufacturing is the notion of being able to buy the minimum set of features capable of meeting requirements. More recently, this old idea has been popularized by the Lean Startup movement and now carries the buzzword “minimum viable product”. It turns out that this concept is quite old and has been in practice at Toyota for a long time.
So whether you’re involved in heavy equipment, data center reliability, or whatever tools you rely on to do your job, keep in mind these four critical factors in equipment reliability.