BusinessDay

Low capacity utilisation limiting manufacturers’ profits

Many industries in Nigeria experience not fully maximising their potentials owing to low capacity utilisation, Benjamin Onunwor, a mechanical engineer, has said.

He stated that as long as this technical hitch persists, Nigerian industries will not achieve optimal results and the economy will continue to suffer.

Onunwor, in an exclusive interview with BusinessDay, in Port Harcourt, revealed that industries in the country are still operating with a breakdown maintenance strategy, which reduces profit and makes growth difficult.

“They are using old and dated maintenance practices to manage critical operations. They use a breakdown maintenance strategy.

“This strategy allows continuous operation of an asset until it shows signs of fault. Then it is shut down for inspection and troubleshooting to find the fault and fix it. “Sometimes it takes a whole day or more. It does not help productivity in critical operations.

“A critical operation is one that is designed to maximize profitability, by running at 100 percent installed capacity, round the clock in 365 days, for 3 or more years,” Onunwor explained.

He posited that for Nigeria’s industrial sector to experience transformation and catch up with their western counterparts, industries need to operate without plant failure or breakdown.

According to him, the only way for industries to have uninterrupted operations is by adopting what he called proactive maintenance strategy, which will enable them to save cost and maximize profit.

Read also: Increased private sector participation, government policies crucial to develop manufacturing

He explained: “The solution is to practice proactive maintenance strategy. It comprises preventive maintenance and predictive maintenance strategies.

“The preventive side will replace strategic parts of the equipment after a number of hours as recommended, by the equipment manufacturer.

“The predictive maintenance side is to find faults that still occur after performing preventive maintenance. It uses high technology like vibration analysis, oil analysis, ultrasound inspection and electric circuit analysis, to detect the onset of changes in operating condition that result in faults and failures”.

He said that Nigeria must focus on creating an efficient system where production processes would run at full capacity consistently for a minimum of three years.

Such a system, the mechanical engineer stated, would lead to higher profit, industrial growth, and economic resurgence.

“The way to rebuild our economy is to focus on operating all processes and power plants to be able to run at 100 percent installed capacity, 24/7 in 365 days for 3 or more years. If this happens, then they are operating as designed. They will make a profit and grow.

“Many plants do not achieve this, because of the high rate of equipment failure. This increases operating costs and erodes profit. Plants struggle to meet operating
costs.

“What we’re saying is that there is the science in engineering to run machines and they won’t stop to produce but they have to learn it. Our company does this job and we train people.

“So, you find out that the problem of our economy is that our industries are not strong in the sense that all power plants are designed to run 24 hours a day for 365 days.

“If a plant runs 24 hours a day for 365 days, they will make a profit. In 20 years, they will build another plant; they will employ people, they will pay tax and the economy will be growing.

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