7 tactics for improving OEE across your plant and companywide production operations
Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) can be a powerful metric to help improve the performance of your machines and industrial assets. Improving OEE can get complicated when manufacturers gather too much or the wrong kind of data. Then it may become difficult to boost OEE performance across plants and production operations. Today, we offer seven best-practice, commonsense recommendations for improving OEE enterprise-wide.
OEE complications to avoid
In some manufacturing companies, calculating and tracking OEE is a sizable task for the people responsible for machine maintenance and asset management. When they collect data from multiple machines or production lines, they can quickly have so much evidence to work with that it becomes difficult to make sense of it to make maintenance and machine production more effective.
Often, one reason for this data glut is that companies set the thresholds for downtime, quality, or performance at very low or unpractical levels. As a result, you assess departures from OEE standards that may have no bearing on the customer value and the real productivity of your operation. Manufacturers sometimes also use a large number of reason codes for downtime and other machine events, causing complications for the operators who need to record OEE values.
When you gather data from various machines and production lines, it’s natural to want to compare them. However, not all of these comparisons are really meaningful unless you apply them to similar industrial assets. For example, when you compare the OEE performance of machines with very different numbers of daily changeovers, you will likely find differences between them, but they may not tell you much about their productivity.
Below are a few practical suggestions for taking the inefficiencies out of OEE tracking and making the practice valuable in your maintenance and asset management.
#1: Prioritize your manufacturing assets
Focus your OEE assessment first on those machines that are truly business-critical. Those are the assets that cause upstream and downstream repercussions when they fail, slow down, or produce quality out of spec. When you improve their OEE performance, by the same token, you may generate improvements that go beyond a single machine.
#2: Gather real-time IIoT data
Machine histories can be useful and informative, but if that’s all you have, you always end up reacting – you never get ahead. Connect your high-priority assets to sensors on the industrial internet of things (IIoT) and gather live data that tell you what OEE performance is like right now. Real-time machine condition-monitoring is key in improving OEE. Itho Daalderop have retrofit existing machines to implement Condition Based Maintenance.
#3: Understand the components of OEE
In improving OEE, it pays to dig into the values that make up the metric – machine availability, throughput performance, and output quality. They can take different forms and be caused by numerous factors. For example, do you know the different impacts that planned and unplanned downtime of your business-critical machine have on production overall? When machine output departs from quality standards, is the problem actually taking place at the machine, or does it reach back to your warehousing, receiving, procurement, or vendor management?
#4: Optimize the OEE formula
OEE should not mean the same thing for all production companies, nor for all machines or production lines at work in their operations. Depending on how you create value for your customers, quality may be the one essential metric that matters, whereas throughput performance is not critical at all. Or, throughput performance is the top consideration, but quality isn’t a major concern because you’re mass-producing a commodity product where minor defects don’t matter. Improve production with an OEE formula that fits the business, where the components of OEE are properly weighted according to their value in your production.
#5: Perform predictive maintenance
Once your your real-time machine condition-monitoring is in process and yields meaningful data, you can further improve OEE by transforming maintenance management. Your maintenance professionals don’t have to wait until performance, quality, or downtime disrupt your production. Instead, they can get going as soon as the data evidence indicates a trend toward an unacceptable OEE value. Your OEE will improve, and you can generate better returns from your maintenance teams.
#6: Improve asset environments
For most of your production machinery, environmental conditions will make a difference. Dust, fumes, temperatures, moisture, building vibrations, airflows, light levels, and other conditions may have an impact on your industrial assets or the materials and components that come to them in the production line. Your real-time condition monitoring can extend to track changes and trends in machine environments. In turn, you can bring OEE up even more.
#7: Connect OEE and machine condition monitoring with business systems
When OEE and predictive maintenance are connected to your other business systems and processes, they become more valuable for the company. At the same time, those integrations can help you boost OEE and machine performance. For example, when you connect OEE findings and machine condition monitoring analytics to the ERP system, production, procurement, and sales managers may be in a better position to plan resources, purchase materials and equipment, and meet customer commitments. In turn, more efficient planning, more reliable demand forecasting, and better-quality materials can positively impact OEE.