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A Practical Guide To Optimal Equipment Effectiveness and Schedule Attainment for Process Manufacturers

A Practical Guide To Optimal Equipment Effectiveness and Schedule Attainment for Process Manufacturers


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A Practical Guide To Optimal Equipment Effectiveness and Schedule Attainment for Process Manufacturers

2 Feb 2023

Aptean Staff Writer
woman controlling peppers conveyor belt

For process manufacturers, nothing is more important than factory floor operations. You always want to be running at optimal efficiency, but does your business have the tools necessary to determine just how streamlined and productive your processes are?

Overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) systems provide organizations like yours with the visibility and control they need to eliminate inaccuracies, proactively solve problems and make plans for improvement—ultimately optimizing your plan attainment. Implementing such a solution has the potential to benefit everyone in your organization, as well as your bottom line.

It won’t happen overnight and will take effort across all your departments, but once your company makes the move to a modern OEE platform, you’ll start seeing benefits right away and enjoy greater agility and profitability down the road.

Identifying Issues and Assessing Needs

All of your business’s teams will be impacted by the implementation of a new OEE system, so it’s important to approach the undertaking with a thorough plan for handling the adjustment. The good news is that once it’s done, assuming you’ve found the right solution, your employees will find their new responsibilities simple to accomplish and will see the impacts of their work immediately.

An OEE platform eliminates the need for manual data entry, paper records and elaborate Excel spreadsheets. It tracks your products and processes in real time, capturing important insights along the way that allow you to identify issues and devise the right ways to rectify them.

These solutions frequently replace outdated legacy systems that have long since outlived their usefulness, and with the automations they facilitate, your business can drastically reduce the risk of human error. That means you can rely on your facts and figures to be accurate and up-to-date.

We can look at an example of a hypothetical paint manufacturer to illustrate the difference an OEE platform can make: without a system to help pinpoint where errors occurred or production slowed, the business is left guessing as to what happened when goals aren’t met. With an OEE solution, though, they receive access to real-time data that shows specifically where the hold-ups were in their processes. That information would have been flagged for review immediately, likely allowing the company to avoid falling short on their efficiency and output.

When your people are left in the dark as to why operations didn’t meet expectations, they begin to lose sight of the potential progress that could be made if they had the tools they needed. On the other hand, if they know what’s going on minute to minute, they can act proactively and quickly to address issues.

Defining OEE and Its Importance

A series of equations can help you quantify your business’s overall equipment effectiveness. Generally, the the equation for OEE is defined as:

OEE = Availability x Performance x Quality

When connected to a continuous improvement framework referred to in manufacturing as the Six Big Losses, terms like utilization, rate and yield are introduced as production “loss” categories:

  • Utilization = Uptime/net available time (Availability)

  • Rate = Unites per minute vs. standard rate (Performance)

  • Yield = Out/total processed in (Quality)

As you might expect, a core function of an OEE solution is to automatically perform these calculations for you and provide the results so that you can examine where your bottlenecks are, what can be done to streamline your processes and, as a result, maximize schedule attainment.

Your teams will know as soon as operations fall below 70% of optimal figures—which is widely considered the threshold between “acceptable” and “slow” in process manufacturing—and can get to solving whatever problems have arisen right away. You can’t afford to make decisions in the rear-view mirror, after all.

The implementation of an OEE system can result in dramatic turnarounds in efficiency, considering many of a business’s issues can remain hidden without such technology. Don Reese, Senior Operations Data Analyst at Litehouse Foods, can attest to the potential for massive improvement. “When we rolled out our OEE platform, we thought we were a 60-70% uptime company when we were only actually seeing 18-25% uptime because we were missing so much data,” Reese said.

When we rolled out our OEE platform, we thought we were a 60-70% uptime company when we were only actually seeing 18-25% uptime because we were missing so much data.

Don ReeseSenior Operations Data Analyst Litehouse Foods

Perfecting Your Plan Attainment Approach

Put simply, plan attainment measures how much of your production schedule is achieved. Having a good grasp on your figures and understanding why you might not be meeting your goals is critical in competitive and fastmoving process manufacturing industries.

What price do you pay when your processes aren’t leading to the results you expected? You struggle to meet customer orders, putting a strain on those relationships and miss out on revenue that the business could have earned. And if you scramble to make up for shortages with extra shifts and overtime, you create a ripple effect that hampers further operations.

An OEE solution lets you keep your finger on the pulse of your business’s performance so that you don’t have to guess or make assumptions about your productivity. With greater certainty and frequent assessments of up-to-date key performance indicators (KPIs), you maximize your organization’s ability to adapt and make progress, making decisions based on hard facts and not gut feelings.

Another way of thinking about an OEE system is that it reveals the “why” behind your results, be they good or bad. If you exceed your production plan, you know why your values were higher than expected. Likewise, if you have to delay a shipment because an order is taking longer to fill than anticipated, you can drill down to the root cause of the hold-up.

Good OEE platforms also measure these two critical areas for potential inefficiency and loss:

  1. Changeover – Just five minutes can make the difference between reaching schedule attainment and failing. By simply measuring changeover times, your teams become more aware of how their personal efficiency affects overall production, and from there your organization can explore just what is causing changeovers to take longer than absolutely necessary.

  2. Giveaway – Overfilling packages to ensure that minimum unit count or volume is met may seem like an unavoidable source of loss, but it’s vital that you closely track exactly what your giveaway is so that you can minimize the amount of product that goes to waste. That, in turn, will improve your bottom line by reserving materials and also keep your business safe from potential legal concerns from over- or under-packing.

The best OEE solutions allow you to act proactively, heading off problems before they even occur. When you’re launching a new line with new processes, you’ll know what issues have occurred with similar operations in the past and can safeguard against them going forward—helping to maximize your plan attainment before you even start.

Empowering Your Teams With Technology

Whether you're in the food and beverage space, cosmetics, chemicals, nutraceuticals or many more, your processing plants are at the heart of your process manufacturing business. That’s why it’s so crucial that you equip them with the right modern systems and adopt agile, intelligent methods for optimizing your operations and maximizing production schedule attainment.

Knowing that getting a handle on your efficiency and effectiveness is so important, consider exploring what Aptean Process Manufacturing OEE could do for your organization. With decades of experience in the industry, our solution is designed for companies like yours and can propel you forward.

Contact us today to learn more about this purpose-built solution and how it can work for you.

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