The Importance of Downtime Monitoring in the Food Industry

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By Emilie A Lachance - July 13, 2020

Downtime is a costly problem for all manufacturers, and this is especially so for food processors. Every delay in processing or packaging of perishable items can damage profit margins and create potential throwaways. Also, in this age of managing the challenges of COVID-19, responding to shifts in consumer demands means processors must be able to react quickly, adjust product mix, change portion size on the move, and deliver promptly and effectively. Any halt in production caused by unnecessary downtime slows the critical delivery of badly needed food items.

Première Moisson, a leading producer of baked goods and pastry products, called on Worximity Technology to help analyze and reduce downtime by implementing an OEE downtime monitoring program. As a result, the company saw a 29 percent decrease in downtime and a 58 percent increase in productivity. Dave Lamothe, Operations VP, commented on the success of the project.

"The overall picture of our production obtained through Worximity Smart Factory analytics allowed us to understand where our main downtimes were and to understand what might be beneficial to us. That is why we want to invest more energy and resources in this technology in order to use the tool to its full potential.”

Worximity's Smart Factory analytics software tracks performance, including OEE downtime monitoring, and generates downtime metrics and other relevant KPIs. According to studies by Belden, a producer of connectors and cabling, downtime across all manufacturers can cost as much as $20,000-$30,000 per downtime hour. Considering the difficulty of identifying all indirect and intangible expenses, the actual cost of downtime may be much more. OEE downtime monitoring is essential for identifying areas that require improvement and monitoring corrective actions.

Unplanned Downtime

Unplanned downtime, usually in the form of equipment failures or breakdowns, constitutes a primary source of production delays. Not only is product not being produced, but labor and other costs continue to accumulate. Minor stops for clearing jams, adjusting speeds and feeds, replacing consumable materials, and other reasons represent both significant lost production and waste.

Worximity OEE downtime monitoring begins with the real-time collection of performance data using TileConnect sensors attached to equipment. Every stop is captured, and the data is sent to the cloud and processed by Worximity's Smart Factory analytics software. Important information, such as a breakdown of downtime along with reasons, OEE, and other KPIs, is produced and displayed on dashboards (TileBoards) throughout the factory. Employees can monitor changes in the data and take corrective action if needed.  

Planned Downtime

Planned downtime generally results from product changeovers and scheduled maintenance. Although these are planned stops and taken into consideration when schedules and production runs are developed, they result in significant lost production time. Even though this downtime is necessary, considerable opportunities exist for loss reduction. Maintenance and changeover times can often be shortened using lean techniques such as single-minute exchange of dies (SMED) and other methods.

For food processors, OEE downtime monitoring can pay off with big savings. Generally, packaging entails numerous carefully synchronized material hand-offs and transfers, including folding, unfolding, interleaving paper, and printing and labeling. Often, during runs, these operations require numerous minor stops and operator adjustments.  Although these types of stops are minor, in total, they can account for a significant amount of downtime.  

Multi-Vac packaging equipment is used throughout the food processing industry.  Packaging and labeling operations require reliable equipment operating with a minimum of downtime. Worximity’s Smart Factory analytics has helped numerous industry partners running Multi-Vac equipment to reduce downtime and increase productivity.  Using OEE downtime monitoring, these processors make in-line adjustments in real time to keep equipment up and running and to maintain planned feeds and speeds.


The true cost of downtime can be difficult to determine because of the many indirect and intangible components contributing to overall costs. Quantifying the losses for items such as damage to customer goodwill, slipped schedules, and shipping short orders is difficult. 

Nevertheless, using a figure of $30,000 per downtime hour, as noted above, means that investment in downtime reduction can have both a quick payback and excellent ROI.  Worximity’s Smart Factory analytics can be implemented quickly—sometimes in a few days—and pays off rapidly. As soon as our system is online, specific areas of downtime and their causes can be identified and corrected.  

Food processors and food service providers have been dramatically impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Changes in packaging requirements and supply chain disruptions mean that it is more important than ever to keep lines up and running. Now is the time to partner with Worximity to evaluate our Smart Factory Analytics system, request a demo, and talk with our experienced technical consultants. 

Smart Factory Analytics Ebook

The Worximity Smart Food Factory solution is a low-cost hardware system that can be up and running in a few hours combined with an easy and intuitive yet powerful analytics dashboard that provides fast ROI to start and a roadmap to full-on IIoT success.

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