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How to prepare for production malfunctions

Author Tiina Salo
Posted on

Process malfunctions are unavoidable, during which time machinery is inoperable.

Typical factors that cause malfunction in production processes are:

  • Broken machinery and jammed machinery
  • Temporarily running out of materials during production
  • Preventive maintenance and cleaning during production n

Effects of malfunctions on production 

The negative effect of malfunctions on processes and resultant costs may be very different in different processes. This is why it is particularly important to verify how a specific production set-up behaves during malfunction.

One is able to better prepare for malfunctions when the effects of different possible malfunctions have been clarified. By preparing better for such situations, we can ensure, with the lowest costs possible, that production keeps running at sufficient capacity despite the malfunction.

It is not worthwhile trying to get rid of malfunctions completely, but with considered changes, we can reduce the effects of malfunctions significantly. . 

Identifying the effects of malfunctions in real environments

Often, even the user is not exactly sure how malfunctions affect the process and what level of malfunction the process can withstand. It may seem difficult to identify the effects of malfunctions. Studying the process or conducting technical analyses do not produce the desired results very easily. The reason for this is that there are many factors involved and, more often than not, each factor affects several areas.

Due to production capacity requirements, it is not possible to test different malfunctions and their effects in the real environment. Testing in real environments may also be a resource-heavy and costly exercise, which limits extensive testing. .

Identifying effects in virtual environments 

Process behaviour during malfunction can be modelled with the help of discrete event simulation. It is an excellent tool to ascertain exactly how a process functions in different situations. In simulation, it is not important to know why the machinery is inoperable. It is more important to know how often or how long the machinery will be inoperable.

Simulation can be used to study several different malfunctions and their effects. After the simulation model has been created, the simulation is used to test different scenarios and to gather information about process behaviour. This is a very cost-efficient process compared to testing in real environments.

Possibilities of simulation

Different malfunction profiles can be assigned to machinery, for example, a separate profile for jamming and a separate one for the breaking of a particular part. Various production conditions during malfunction can be linked to the actual malfunction, as well as possible actions required to restore production to normal.

The table below presents the most common malfunctions and their effects.


Benefits of simulation

  • Even though different scenarios can be tested in production, tests conducted with the help of simulation are significantly faster and more cost efficient
  • Data collection is easier in simulation than with practical testing
  • The method increases knowledge of the process’ ability to withstand malfunctions and its operation during malfunctions.
  • Based on the results, a recovery/backup plans can be drawn up to reduce the effects of malfunctions and test the functionality of the plans
  • The simulation model can be used in training when new operational methods are presented.

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Tiina Salo


Intelligent Engineering

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