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April 27, 2020 | 3 Mins Read

Advice for Manufacturers: How to Stay Productive During Slower Business Cycles

April 27, 2020 | 3 Mins Read

Advice for Manufacturers: How to Stay Productive During Slower Business Cycles


By Ira Busman

The COVID-19 outbreak has touched all of us from a corporate, political and emotional perspective. No doubt these are challenging times, and it can be very hard to pay attention to anything other than the virus and what will happen next. We’re all finding our own ways to stay strong, and my thoughts go out to all our manufacturing family at this time.

Based on historical data, it’s likely that capacity utilization in shops will decline in the months ahead. Our industry tends to go through up and down cycles, so many of us have been through this before.

Time to Optimize Machine Tool Assets

At Okuma, traditionally during times like these, our customers take advantage of the lull in business to optimize their assets and ensure their machine tools are in peak condition and ready to ramp up quickly when the recovery begins. This is also a great way to keep employees – one of your most valuable assets – working productively when all the parts have been cut.

There are also opportunities to review the overall operations and efficiency of your business. Is it time to consider automation? Perhaps a 4th axis, or an option like a bar feeder or parts catcher, or probing to optimize efficiency. Another thought may be to add an option that was overlooked at the point of sale, such as extra program storage or cycle time reduction technologies.

You can also consider the more typical preventive services, as outlined below.

Preventive Maintenance and Recertifications

This can be the perfect time to:

  • Perform preventive maintenance utilizing Okuma CARE PM Kits and your qualified Okuma Distributor
  • Do a coolant flush, including a fluid check/replacement and overall health check
  • Consider a geometrical alignment of your Okuma machine tool to bring it back to factory specifications

Safety Inspections

When shops are busy, it’s easy to overlook simple yet important issues on the machine. This is a good time to check for:

  • Door glass: broken or worn
  • Mechanical door locking mechanism: broken or disconnected. Interlocks that may have been overridden
  • Machine placards: missing or not legible
  • Guarding that’s missing or broken
  • Utilizing Okuma’s “free OSP hardware evaluation” program
  • Software: this is a good time to make sure you have the original software and manuals that came with the machine
  • Parameter backup: ensure batteries are replaced now. In some cases, machines are powered off and 100% dependent on battery backup. If the machine batteries are weak, once the power is turned back on, all system and program storage will be lost

Extended Warranty and OSP Control Contracts

Now may be a good time to consider ensuring peace of mind when the market improves. These safeguards can provide a better sense of cost control and help when unplanned downtime strikes.

Most everyone I know in the great industry of manufacturing is working to stay productive and maintain a positive outlook. Many are jumping into the front lines of producing much needed personal protective equipment, and we applaud you.