Production Line System Failure — How to Protect Yourself

Here’s the thing: production lines are hugely complex and difficult to predict.

Even now, as technology has advanced and so much has become automated, there are still glitches and shutdowns.

And part of the problem is because the systems are automated — with process and system integration into production lines, so much more reliance is placed on the accuracy of the data. 

And while having all your information in one place is absolutely a positive, relying on inaccurate systems is going to drastically effect your business.

Last month, I talked about how to identify areas in your production line that were susceptible to failure. This month, I’ll be talking about how to prevent those failures from happening. 

The risks of relying on an unreliable system

Obviously, everyone has processes in place to attempt to prevent failures — but how reliable are yours?

There are several ways that an unverified system can let you down and lead to production line failure:

  • Time zone faults — these seem simple but could have dramatic consequences if you are relying on various connections.
  • Lack of backup and recovery — when computer hardware fails (and it will), many unreliable systems haven’t kept a recent backup of the lost data.  
  • Viruses or bad upgrades — malware, viruses, or even a poorly installed upgrade can all exploit a glitchy production line and lead to software failure.

These potential failures are the offspring of a business that hasn’t taken a clearly planned and measured approach to protecting their production line.

Ultimately an unverified system that’s susceptible to production line failure opens you up to the possibility of further consequences to your business, such as:

  • Excessive downtime;
  • Poor product quality;
  • Customer dissatisfaction;
  • Loss of revenue;
  • Lost data; and
  • Impaired security.

And if the line stops, then everyone is affected; customers, suppliers, staff, and management.

In short: failing to protect your production line can put you on a path to catastrophe. If you’re lucky, you’ll just suffer reduced efficiency. But for many businesses, the consequences were — and are — much worse.  

Steps to protect your business from production line failure

There often aren’t any real indicators that a production line is about to fail, so you need instead to be confident in your systems.

How do you gain that confidence? Let me boil it down into four steps:

1. Have a backup

Your production line failing is not great. But losing all your data? That’s a disaster.

Ensuring you have a backup and recovery system in place — and that it works — is essential to avoiding future headaches.

2. Prioritise

There will always be too much to do. The tendency with most businesses is to face the immediate problem — normally, keeping customers happy.

But it’s vital to instead prioritise maintenance and set regular and concrete times to consistently assess the health of your systems.

3. Understand the level of risk

It’s necessary to conduct an honest analysis of your systems, even though their complexity might make this task seem time-consuming. To understand the level of risk in each identified weakness, you need to evaluate the balance between two factors:

  • How big of an impact will this failure have?
  • How long will it take to remedy?

4. Upgrade and maintain

Production line failure happens unexpectedly because hardware hasn’t been checked or maintained in a long time. Acknowledging the need for consistently up-to-date software (and implementing steps to make sure it’s successfully upgraded) goes a long way to prevent system failures. 

Need some help protecting your production line?

If you need help understanding the risk to your production lines, we can help.  

Mintec can map out the information flows and identify which areas are putting you at risk of production line failure. 

We also enquire about recovery systems and do an evaluation of backups, standby hardware, power protection and security.

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