The Overall Equipment Effectiveness Approach-A Survival Tool for Manufacturing

Jack Wilkins

Pressured by current economic conditions, global competition, and delays of new equipment purchases, manufacturers are becoming increasingly sensitive about operational costs. In this environment, it pays to consider both creative and proven methods that you can use to bring your product to market at minimum cost. Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) is a method that meets this objective.

The OEE Approach
Fundamentally, OEE is a performance metric compiled from machine-availability data. OEE also captures the reasons for downtime (e.g., machine conditions, material status, production personnel, or quality issues) and can encompass the individual machine level, a line or cell level, or the entire plant. At the plant level, OEE metrics can be correlated with other plant metrics to provide key performance indicators. With enterprise-level technologies, such as executive dashboards, managers can monitor OEE plant metrics and drill down to find the root causes of problems, getting minute-by-minute updates to enable real-time process improvement. Downtime reductions can be readily achieved by using OEE to gain visibility into machine status and to analyze problems.

An OEE system enables the shop floor to go paperless. Typically, facility operators and supervisors spend an enormous amount of time recording, analyzing, and reporting on downtime, then further explaining these reports to management. An OEE system captures and reports downtime and efficiencies automatically. This eliminates the time wasted in non-value-added reporting and allows personnel to focus on more valuable tasks. With OEE, everyone from the plant floor to the boardroom is more informed, more often, more easily.

OEE also enables predictive maintenance, which can dramatically reduce repair costs. As the information on factors contributing to downtime grows in the historical database, the maintenance department can discern trends and predict impending failures. Also, by interfacing the OEE system with a Computerized Maintenance Management System, the maintenance department can take proactive steps to do predictive maintenance. For example, maintenance can order the necessary part in advance and get better rates. It can allocate repair personnel from an existing pool of resources instead of hiring someone on an emergency basis. All this can result in huge savings compared with repairing a machine after the breakdown has happened.

The net effect of reduced machine downtime, higher productivity of operators, and reduced defects is the ability to achieve higher production levels with the same amount of resources.