Here’s how to avoid the common mistakes with OEE

By Mark Dingley*

With companies facing increasing pressure to squeeze as much productivity as they can from their assets, more Australian manufacturers and processors are looking to Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) for the answer.

It’s an easy metric to measure the performance of any machine, production line, or even the whole plant, looking at availability, performance and quality. But sometimes businesses don’t get the full benefit of OEE implementation because of some simple mistakes. Here’s what they are and how to avoid them.

Firstly, some quick details on exactly what OEE — which was devised in Japan back in the 1960s – measures regarding “availability, performance and quality”.

  • Availability: percentage of scheduled time that the equipment is available to operate (also referred to as “uptime”).
  • Performance: percentage of the speed at which the equipment was designed to operate.
  • Quality: percentage of “good units” produced by the equipment, compared with “total units started” or “first pass yield”.

 These three percentages are multiplied to give an overall OEE score. (You can get a more in-depth run down on how to measure OEE here. Also, check out our integrated software solutions which we developed to automatically calculate OEE so you can see exactly where and how to improve efficiency and reduce operating costs in your production line.)

 A key factor in OEE implementation is defining the processes and measurement criteria. For example:

  • defining processes: can rejects be fixed and put back on the line?
  • measurement criteria: are you measuring micro stoppages? or when is downtime actually measured?

Get the implementation right, and OEE can be used to highlight problem areas in a plant and, ultimately, help you realise the best possible performance from your equipment investments.

However, there are a few common mistakes that could be holding you back from reaping its full benefit.

 Mistake #1: data collection too slow

One of the simplest (hence most common) methods of calculating OEE is to collect a combination of automated and manual data and bundle it into a spreadsheet. However this cumbersome and time-consuming process is ineffective because it prevents changes from being made in a timely fashion.

How to get it right:

Real-time automated data is essential if you want to unlock to the full benefit from OEE. Measure and display OEE so that operators can see it in real time. Also, the data alone is not enough – it’s important to provide supporting information that will help operators to understand the root causes of any issues.

Automated data capture from end-of-the-line equipment such as coders and labellers with software integration, is one way. Integrated inspection equipment allows reject data to be captured. Software allows you to automatically collect and report on OEE in real time. With the right data at your fingertips, this software helps you see exactly where and how to improve performance. And because these real-time data capture solutions can be fully integrated into your environment, you can enjoy the complete visibility of your production line you need to make informed decisions.

Mistake #2: measuring OEE in isolation

OEE is an effective way to measure the performance of equipment or lines, but if you are measuring each component in isolation, you’re missing a valuable opportunity to get the most out of your assets.

How to get it right:

Use OEE to compare the performance of one line over another. Measure the OEE for each product being packaged on a particular line, and use the results to compare what lines perform better than others for certain products; e.g.: one line might perform better with larger product sizes and another for smaller units.

These insights will empower you to make decisions on which products to run on which lines, so you can be confident you are achieving the maximum performance and output.

Mistake #3: operators not included in the process

Downtime monitoring (DTM) is a critical part of OEE implementation, but resistance from operators is common. There’s a very real risk that your staff may feel that OEE is just an excuse to watch them more closely and blame them for any issues.

How to get it right:

Operators are essential to the OEE process, because they are the ones you need to monitor and use the data to make changes. Without their buy-in, your OEE implementation is destined to fail. Involve operators and supervisors in the OEE implementation from the beginning. Ensure they understand that using OEE is important to the organisation as a whole, and is not a tool to blame individuals when things go wrong.

Take steps to make sure your operators trust the data and have the confidence to use it to make decisions. Having regular review sessions where you discuss what’s driving both underperformance and improvement will help. Encourage staff feedback — what do they think could be causing the downtime? This may require a culture change, but it’s one that will make or break your OEE success.

Making any of the above mistakes?

When it comes to OEE, it pays to get it right — literally. The good news is that all the above mistakes are simple to fix or avoid. With some time and planning, you can ensure you are getting the maximum value out of your OEE implementation.

Need help with your OEE implementation? Matthews can help unlock OEE data with automated software programs. Please contact our team for details or call 1300 CODING (1300 263 464). We also have some great material on OEE under the “lean manufacturing & OEE” section of our blog.

 Check out Matthews’ great resource library. It has a host of great information that’s all free to download!


* Mark Dingley is General Manager of Matthews Australasia and Chairman of the Australian Packaging and Processing Machinery Association (APPMA). With 20+ years of experience in the product identification industry and the wealth of knowledge gained from working closely with manufacturers and industry associations, Mark actively contributes to industry forums, magazines and the Matthews blog.