November 3rd, 2015

The Surprising Causes of Most OEE Performance Gaps

Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) is one of your most critical manufacturing metrics. But what — or who — is to blame when you’ve got a gap between actual and ideal performance? We’ll take a look at several ways to measure OEE, and then reveal the true culprit for a big performance gap.

As much as we’d like our business decisions to be black and white, chances are they’re multiple shades of grey. Such is the case with measuring your OEE, and attempting to define and correct the factors that influence it.

OEE measurements can range from an individual work center, or an entire plant. You may be tracking the OEE of a particular machine, and may break it down to shifts, parts or a number of other parameters.

What you track, however, isn’t the end of the analysis. It’s just the beginning.

A Sign of Bigger Problems

This new order is a headache!

We are all on a quest for more uptime. It’s no secret: Increase uptime, boost that bottom line. So most manufacturers’ OEE breakdowns are linked to what’s causing the downtime. A typical example might include:

* Jams
* Machine adjustments
* Lack of materials
* Breakdowns

You know the drill. You set benchmarks for your own operation, then shoot for OEEs that are ideal.

Maybe you want to boost from a fairly typical 60% OEE to 85%. So you track those breakdowns, but where does it lead you? Yes, the machine is jamming. The breakdowns are high. But what’s ultimately causing the issue?

We’ve found two culprits are typically the root cause of all downtime evils:

1. Human Error: Typically a cause of improper or lack of training, human errors can include entering the wrong variable or piece of data. Our service people find that they respond most often to simple human mistakes.

2. Poor Product Design/Development: Somewhat linked to human error is the mistakes that were made further upstream, during the design phase of a product. If there’s a performance issue with a machine, it can be corrected to eliminate jams or breakdowns. But if the issues become chronic, the flaw may be in the overall design.

Tightening the Performance Gap

If you want to cure the patient, you need to move beyond the symptoms and get to the root cause of the malady. Tightening your OEE performance gaps should begin with a solutions to the root causes of downtime:

Training: If human error is one of the main issues, there are two ways to address the issue. One – recruit superior talent. Two – improve your training.

No matter how talented your team, however, a well-defined and ongoing training program is critical. For example, we train operators, supervisors and management team on equipment before, during and after installation.

Stock Photo

In addition, we offer a certified advanced training class which trains process engineers and operators to think critically about their existing and new processes and empowers them to streamline those processes even further. Bottom line: Regular follow-up training is a must.

Technology: Many of the human errors can be solved remotely, with the assistance of a solid support system from your manufacturer. For example, our manufacturing systems are internet based and all machine parameters can be viewed from our site. Our service techs can then solve issues without flying on-site, saving both time and money for our clients.

Improved R&D: No matter how well trained your team is, and how finely-tuned your machine may be, if the part is inferior and botches your production run, you’re sunk.

So turn your attention to the big picture. Can you improve the R&D of the product and the process? One common mistake we see is when a customer pushes to production without integrating us early in the R&D process.

This only works if your manufacturer has experience with this approach across multiple industries. It takes a certain mindset and a commitment to robust modular design to help you innovate and manage the risk of bringing a new product to market.

In addition to intellectual know-how, qualified suppliers should offer test or lab equipment for verification of those critical aspects of your process. A small upfront investment in lab equipment can pay off significantly in the design of your full manufacturing system.

Innovation occurs when you push limits. It’s easier to push those limits early in the process, when you give your machine engineers time to experiment with unique approaches to problems. You may find that what you’re trying to do pushes the limits too far; however, by revising your product or process in subtle ways, you can find an effective solution.

When curing the patient, it’s easy to focus on the symptoms. OEE can definitely reveal symptoms, but the cure lies further upstream. Use your findings to get to the root cause of those performance gaps. It’s the only way to move from middle-of-the road OEE to world class.

For more information on how you can improve the OEE on your converting process, contact your Delta ModTech Manufacturing expert.

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One response to “The Surprising Causes of Most OEE Performance Gaps”

  1. Fred Knox says:

    Great article

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