OEE is commonly used as one of the most important key performance indicators when talking about lean manufacturing.

Needless to say, all manufacturers are always on the lookout for newer and innovative ways to improve the efficiency of their operations. This is true regardless of the specific type of business they’re running, or even the particular niche of the manufacturing industry that they’re operating in.

Obviously, with unlimited resources, you could snap your fingers and improve the productivity of every last piece of equipment in your factory. You could hire the right employee for the right tool at exactly the right time and you could create an environment where you were churning out the highest number of quality parts 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days per year.

But unfortunately, we don’t live in a world of unlimited resources.

Believe it or not – that’s actually more than okay. Because rather than pining for a perfect world that doesn’t actually exist, you need to learn how to make better use of those resources that you already have. This, in essence, is what overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) data collection is all about. By collecting as much accurate information about how your machines run as possible, you put yourself in a position to better identify WHERE to focus your resources in the long run.

The Goal of OEE Tracking

OEE solutions are built to help your organization collect data that isn’t just timely but that is also pertinent, accurate and, most importantly, unbiased. Never forget that it’s just as important to determine what ISN’T working as it would be to learn what IS.

Then, by making this data readily available to everyone within your organization, you can guarantee that everyone is always on the same page and moving in the same direction, no matter what.

In terms of the actual collection of this data, there are two main options you can choose from depending on your needs: manually or automatically.

Manual OEE data collection is exactly what it sounds like – you train someone to go around and essentially collect all of this information by hand, using the same processes you’ve been relying on for years. While this is certainly the easiest way to collect this data, it may not actually be the best for a number of reasons you need to be aware of.

The Issues With Manual Data Collection

Whenever data is collected manually, it is usually biased, late, and oftentimes totally inaccurate – a perfect storm in the worst possible way. So much of this comes down to the data collectors themselves. It’s a menial, time consuming and often frustrating job. Which means that when production data is manually tracked, the person responsible for recording that information will usually do as little as they can as quickly as they can not to make sure the job gets done properly, but just to make sure that it gets done at all.

Of course, all of these issues would be null and void if you could just collect all of your relevant OEE data automatically. Usually, a lot of people assume that this automatic data collection is a lot easier said than done. But with the right tool by your side, it’s every bit as effective – and empowering – as you were hoping it would be.

The Art of Better Data Collection

Generally speaking, the bare minimum amount of information that you should be collecting regarding your production capabilities includes:

  • Part counts.
  • Status (meaning whether or not equipment is running, when it is down, if you’re going through a shift changeover, etc.).
  • Tool, job, and operator information.

When taken together, all of this information will allow you to calculate your overall equipment effectiveness – something that may very well be the single most important metric you’re working with.

What is OEE?

Overall equipment effectiveness is measured on a scale of 100%. If you’re able to achieve that coveted perfect score, it means that you’re only manufacturing A) good parts, B) as quickly as possible, with C) little to no stop time to speak of.

In other words, it means that your quality, your performance, and your availability are all at 100% – meaning that you’ve unlocked the peak potential of your entire operation.

As a way to both monitor and improve on the efficiency of your manufacturing processes, OEE takes all of the most common (not to mention important) sources of manufacturing productivity loss and separates them into these three primary categories. Based on what your OEE score is, you know exactly what about your current efforts aren’t working – thus allowing you to put a stop to them as soon as possible.

In the end, OEE data collection allows you to eliminate all guesswork from the equation. If you’re not hitting your goals for whatever reason, you don’t have to wonder why or go on the hunt for the answer.

By simply paying attention to what your OEE data is trying to tell you, you’ll know beyond the shadow of a doubt – thus putting you in an excellent position to do something about it.

About the Author:
This Article is written by Tim Saddoris, the founder of Thrive MES – a provider of downtime tracking and OEE software for clients in food and beverage, pharmaceuticals, automotive manufacturing, metal product manufacturing and other related industries.

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