Redundancy

A redundancy is a repetitive, unnecessary step in a process; in manufacturing, redundancies are deliberate fail-safe measures integrated into a production cycle for risk management and system control.

Key Takeaways

  • Technique used for Total Quality Management (TQM)

  • Purpose is to limit extent of potential equipment or operator failures

  • Helpful when cost of implementation < consequences of its absence

How is Redundancy Useful?

Redundancy is important.

No, I think you don’t fully understand – redundancy is really important – critical, even.

^ Do you see what I did there? By reiterating a talking point, I am drawing special attention to its importance as a factor. Technically, the second sentence was redundant, meaning that it just repeated content and added no new helpful information.

If I were editing, I’d delete that second sentence because it just clogs up the progression of the paragraph. However, that critical view of a redundancy is because the purpose is to clear things up in as few words as possible. Depending on the industry, redundancies can either be deliberate and helpful, or they can be hurdles that should be eliminated.

In manufacturing applications, redundancies are purposefully built into the production process to act as fail-safes in case of equipment failure or adverse conditions. In other words, it’s good that there’s something “extra” in the way for the sole purpose of risk management.

Types of Redundancy

There are hundreds of types of redundancy, but here are the most commonly applicable:

  • Hardware redundancy is when a physical component is duplicated, like in dual or triple modular redundancy
  • Information redundancy is a type of check that ensures the proper digital copying and storage of information, like when you receive an email and trust that it is exactly as it was sent
  • Time redundancy is when operations or executions are repeated in multiple productions or cycles, like multiple batch processing
  • Software redundancy is a process of equivalent programs being run to process multiple operations or datasets, like when two programs run the same code and compare for accuracy
  • Combined (other) redundancy is the combination of several of the above types to make a fail-safe redundancy like both mechanical and hydraulic vehicle brakes, which use both software and hardware redundancies

Example of Redundancy in Manufacturing

There are so many elements at play in the manufacturing industry that redundancies vary quite widely. One area of a factory may use a fairly obvious time redundancy by sending data about a machine’s performance every 30 minutes, regardless of any detected errors

Another more visual example of redundancy is operator confirmation in work instructions – VKS visual work instructions can have customized prompts that require operators to manually enter variables into a display interface, or take pictures and upload them before the next stop of the production cycle commences.

Redundancy can also be as simple as multiple signs about safety protocol and standard operating procedures when on the factory floor.

Another more visual example of redundancy is operator confirmation in work instructions – VKS visual work instructions can have customized prompts that require operators to manually enter variables into a display interface, or take pictures and upload them before the next stop of the production cycle commences.

Redundancy can also be as simple as multiple signs about safety protocol and standard operating procedures when on the factory floor.

Industries That Rely Upon Redundancy

Many industries in a wide variety of sectors rely upon different types of redundancy to address unique problems in their fields:

  • Medical Suppliers use supply route and inventory redundancies to account for sudden fluctuations in demand for medications and services
  • Information Technology (IT) relies upon redundancies at the very core, using backup files and servers to double-check that information is secure and accessible
  • Anything using the framework of Total Quality Management (TQM)
  • Aerospace uses redundancies by design, like how commercial planes are mandated to have at least two engines but technically can still operate with only a single engine
  • Healthcare uses redundancies in labs or in contamination facilities, where professionals need to pass through several areas that “check” for spills or harmful substances like contagious diseases
  • Key infrastructure is built with redundancies in mind, like building power lines with multiple nodes which can detect overages using sensors and circuit breaker
  • Industrial manufacturing makes multiple uses of redundancies to protect workers’ safety while operating powerful machines
post-it note labeled "cyclic redundancy check"

Can Lean Manufacturing Use Redundancies?

Those who practice lean manufacturing methodologies may have wondered if redundancy can or should be used in tandem with their lean processes: if lean means eliminating as much unnecessary waste as possible, then is purposefully adding redundancies to a production line sabotaging that vision?

You shouldn’t be adding unnecessary processes, you should always be eliminating, they say. However…

Think a level deeper, about the minimal cost to production (both monetary and time) to add in strategic redundancies, and then the massive cost to the operation if there were an equipment failure that wasn’t anticipated and corrected in time.

It’s about risk management. In many manufacturing cases, redundancies are pivotal for ensuring success and uniformity. If by doing one small, quick redundancy daily you could avoid the potentially catastrophic results of a sudden failure in the future, I’d think most wouldn’t be bothered by the daily redundancy.

Disastrous consequences are easily mitigated with simple corrective prevention measures.

Your company should invest in analysis that will balance the cost of implementing redundancy measures with the potential consequences that will occur if processes are left alone without active risk management.

Want the Nitty-Gritty Academic Proof?

Alright, but don’t blame me for the reading homework! This study by Jacobs University does a good job explaining how adding redundancies in manufacturing systems (MSs) adds to the “robustness”, or relative health, of the industrial operation:

Quote

“While on a short term scale increased redundancy in a MS could increase the manufacturing costs, redundancy helps to buffer against robustness on a rather long term perspective. Increasing redundancy and thus robustness of MSs can be seen as a way of managing uncertainty in MSs, which is an important aspect in the management of manufacturing organizations for example in the face of risk analysis.”

For a little lighter (okay, a lot lighter) and quicker read, check out our modern analysis of lean manufacturing using Marie Kondo’s trademarked method of cleaning and organization.

Blog

Read up on manufacturing trends and noteworthy industry news

Read The Latest

Solutions

Enhance your shop floor experience and gain instant benefits from our work instruction software solution.

Start Learning

Newsletter

Keep in touch with us and our expanding, up-to-date knowledge base

This website uses cookies to provide you with the best user experience. By clicking the “Accept” button, you agree to our Privacy Policy and use of cookies. You can disable cookies through your browser's privacy settings.