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You Can’t Improve What You’re Not Measuring: Why OEE Will Always Matter  

As a manufacturing professional, continuous improvement is obviously a concept that is always at the forefront of your mind.

Even if you’re completely happy with the way things are going today… there are always opportunities for improvement. Capitalizing on those opportunities is one of the best ways to not only increase revenue, but to also remain competitive in an increasingly crowded marketplace.

That, in essence, is why OEE tracking will always matter. Also commonly referred to as Overall Equipment Effectiveness for short, OEE tracking is all about gaining a deeper understanding of the quality, availability and performance of your production lines. Not just in terms of your overall business, but down to things like the shift, the piece of equipment in question and even the individual operator.

The Power of OEE

One of the major reasons why OEE will always matter has to do with the six big types of losses that will constantly be present across your operations. These include things like:

  • Unplanned stops, that are likely the result of issues like equipment failure.
  • Planned stops, which may be necessary but can always be improved by taking a closer look at things like setups and adjustments.
  • Small stops, which are usually caused by idling and minor stops that may not be so minor under closer examination.
  • Slow cycles, which are the result of reduced speed, among other factors.
  • Production rejects, which may point to an issue in your production process somewhere.
  • Startup rejects, which typically always translate to reduced yield.

OEE takes a look at all of these issues within the context of fully productive time. This in turn also gives you insight into how much of your operator’s time they’re able to maximize on a daily basis.

A lot of these things can be exacerbated – and on the flip side, corrected – by equipment maintenance. If you’re still practicing a reactive maintenance plan – meaning that you’re simply waiting for something to break so you can fix it – you’ll likely see increased instances of those six big losses outlined above.

On the contrary, if you’re practicing predictive maintenance – meaning that you’re stopping small issues before they have a chance to become much larger ones – you’ll eliminate these problems across the board.

Remember that machines that break down frequently are nearly impossible to optimize for that reason. This creates a ripple effect in the worst possible way. Not only does this reduce your ideal cycle time, but it also probably contributes to an increased number of product defects as well.

OEE can help you better understand where your issues lie within the context of all of this, putting you in the best possible position to do something about it.

To find out more information about why OEE is always going to be an important metric for your organization, or to speak to someone about your own situation in a bit more detail, please don’t delay – contact Thrive today.



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The Relationship Between OEE and Your Operators  

As mentioned in the past, OEE (or Overall Equipment Effectiveness) is all about measuring the true productivity of your manufacturing lines. If you’re able to achieve an OEE score of 100%, it means that you’re dealing with no stop time, that you’re working as quickly as possible and that you’re only manufacturing high quality parts.

A lot of organizations use OEE (in association with things like downtime tracking tools) to pay closer attention to the actual equipment being used on their factory floors every day. Indeed, this is a great way to identify small issues with things like equipment maintenance now so that you can stop them from becoming much bigger (and potentially more costly) ones down the road.

But at the same time, one must not overlook another key component that has a direct impact on your OEE score: the operators themselves.

OEE and Your Operators: An Overview

One situation where your OEE score can absolutely be impacted by your operators has to do with those times when you may be short a worker on the factory floor.

Remember that OEE is all about identifying equipment-based losses. In the event that you’re short an operator for whatever reason, you can’t run your equipment at its fully intended speed – meaning that your OEE score would absolutely be lower than it otherwise would.

The only way OEE works is if you use it to identify all losses, regardless of where they’re coming from. If you’re short someone on the floor, that is preventing you from unlocking the maximum potential of your equipment – meaning that you need to include it in your calculations. At the very least, it’ll give you a much-needed context to understand where those losses are coming from.

This is especially true in situations where you may be down an operator but you’re still dealing with full customer demand. In that situation, the lack of an operator would absolutely be treated as an OEE issue.

If you’re short an operator and it’s during a time when you’re not dealing with full customer demand, however, you wouldn’t necessarily need to look at things the exact same way. Sure, your ideal cycle time may change given the current conditions that you’re working with – but it won’t immediately impact your overall OEE score for that particular shift.

Along the same lines, if you’re ever in a situation where you can’t run a process due to a lack of operator that, too, is an OEE issue. More specifically, it impacts your availability score – because you’re dealing with a manufacturing process that should have been executed but that wasn’t.

In the end, never forget that OEE is designed to help you do one thing above all others: identify your losses so that you can put a stop to them as much as possible. Obviously, you probably aren’t caught off guard by the fact that you’re short an operator. But you still need to include this fact in your calculations anyway so that you can continue to trust your larger scores moving forward.

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The Relationship Between Re-Worked Parts and Your OEE Score 

Overall Equipment Effectiveness, otherwise known as OEE short, is a standard used to measure three core areas of your manufacturing process: quality, performance and availability.

A high OEE score means that you’re creating as many quality parts as you can, as quickly as you can, with little to no stop time to speak of. Obviously, nobody gets an OEE score of 100% because none of us are perfect – but it’s still in your best interest to try to get that score as high as you can conceivably get it.

Having said that, customers often have a question of how reworked parts should be included in this calculation. Understanding the situation regarding this is luckily straightforward – it’s just that it requires you to keep a few key things in mind.

The Impact of Part Quality on OEE

One common best practice in OEE has to do with the fact that any parts that need to be reworked should be counted as rejects as they initially go through your manufacturing process.

To that end, quality parts are defined as those that don’t need to go through any reworking at all during this period.

What makes the situation slightly trickier, however, has to do with instances where parts may need to be reworked multiple times in order to achieve that quality threshold. This may happen for a wide range of reasons, but ultimately why it occurred matters less than what you do next.

If you decide to treat your reworked parts as essentially “new” meaning that you’re starting the process from scratch, it will impact your OEE score like any other aspect of your manufacturing process. Doing this is usually preferred in those situations when you’re mixing in reworked parts with those that hit their quality threshold right out of the gate. You’ll need to pay particular attention to make sure that your part counts stay as accurate as possible, however, or you run the risk of skewing your entire OEE score.

If you’re dealing with a situation when rejected parts have been reworked after the initial production was completed, you don’t necessarily have to count this against your OEE score. The thinking here is that the poor-quality parts already caused a hit to your OEE score when they were rejected the first time – you don’t necessarily need to do it again.

But overall, the context surrounding your manufacturing process will likely play a role in determining what, if any, impact these re-worked parts will have. Equally complicating things is the fact that sometimes reworked parts cause your manufacturing processes to run at less than peak speed as they get reworked a second time. Sometimes an issue only affected the packaging of a part and not the part itself – which really shouldn’t impact your OEE score at all.

Still, you need to pay attention to all of this so that you understand what your OEE score is really trying to tell you – and so that you can use it to make the best decisions you can at all times.

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The Potential Limitations in Your OEE Calculation With Regards to Rejected Parts  

One of the most important things to understand about your OEE score is that really, you’re talking about three distinct metrics that come together to give you the most complete picture possible regarding how your manufacturing is working and where it could be better.

An OEE score that hits that coveted 100% marker (don’t worry, nobody has an OEE score of 100%) means that you’re manufacturing only the highest quality parts, with near constant availability, as quickly as humanly possible.

But at the same time, depending on the nature of your own environment you may not actually be in a position to detect rejected parts during the initial manufacturing process. Sometimes, you don’t have this information until hours or even days after the fact. If that’s the case for you, does it suddenly mean that you can’t implement OEE across your own production lines?

No. Far from it. In fact, the situation is a lot more straightforward than you might think – you just need to keep a few key things in mind.

OEE and Rejected Parts: Breaking Things Down

In the event that the total number of rejected parts aren’t immediately obvious to you as the manufacturing process continues in real-time, there are a few key steps you can take.

Obviously, you could simply delay calculating your OEE score until all of the information is available to you. Most people don’t necessarily use OEE as a real-time metric anyway – they use it to break down performance over specific periods to see where opportunities for improvement really lay.

You could also simply calculate your OEE score based on the information you do have available to you – that is, availability and performance. Here, you wouldn’t be including quality at all because you won’t have that information quite yet. Since availability and performance are the two major factors that impact your production time anyway, it’s still a valuable way to see what about your current operations is working and, more importantly, what isn’t. You should be mindful of the fact that you’re not including quality in this, however, as you’re not really getting the “complete picture” that you otherwise would.

Finally, you could essentially choose to calculate your OEE score twice – once using only availability and performance information as outlined above, and then again once information about the total number of rejected parts rolls in. This means that your OEE score will “change” after you first calculate it, at least on paper. But at the same time, it can be very confusing to track where your performance losses really are so this method isn’t necessarily recommended.

Regardless of which option you choose, the key thing is to fully understand what your OEE score is trying to tell you. Provided that you understand the context surrounding that number and what contributed to it, you’ll be able to use it as a guidepost to make the best and most informed decisions possible in the moment.

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The Major Factors That Impact Your OEE Score  

Otherwise known as Overall Equipment Effectiveness, OEE is a standard used to measure the overall productivity of your manufacturing environment. If you’re able to achieve an OEE score of 100%, it means that you’re only manufacturing high quality parts, as quickly as you can, with as little stop time as you can manage.

Now, the most important thing to understand about all of this is that nobody achieves an OEE score of 100%. It’s not necessarily realistic given the complex nature of the manufacturing environments that you’re talking about. But the simple fact that you’re always making meaningful efforts to improve that score – to get it as high as you can – goes a long way towards making sure you’re unlocking the maximum potential of your equipment, your people and ultimately your business.

With all of that in mind, there are a variety of factors that ultimately impact your OEE score – some of which are not necessarily immediately obvious. By understanding these factors, you can mitigate risk from them as much as possible.

What Impacts OEE? Breaking Things Down

One of the major factors that will likely impact your OEE score comes down to preventative maintenance. Keep in mind that one of the things that you’re really paying attention to when it comes to OEE is all of the time used for value-added production. Absolutely anything that takes away from that should be included in your OEE calculations because you need the most complete picture to work from at all times.

Now, that’s not to say that preventative maintenance is bad – because it absolutely isn’t. Indeed, you always want to capitalize on any opportunity you have to stop a small problem now before it has a chance to become a much bigger one down the road. It’s simply that you have to face the reality of the situation – meaning that if preventative maintenance takes away from the time used for production, it needs to get included in your availability calculation.

Another factor that impacts your OEE score comes down to lunches and breaks for your employees. Again, this is true for the same reason outlined above – if those lunches or breaks take time away from your ability to unlock the full potential of your manufacturing lines, they too should become a part of your availability calculation.

But as was true with preventative maintenance, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Nor is it something you can avoid because obviously your employees deserve breaks. However, it’s still important to include them in the availability portion of your OEE calculation so that you understand where those losses are coming from, regardless of how unavoidable they may be.

In the end, OEE is about making sure you have the best information to work from when making decisions in the moment. By taking factors like those outlined above into consideration, you go a long way towards accomplishing precisely that with your OEE calculation.

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The Biggest OEE Mistakes You Should Try to Avoid

One of the most important things to understand about OEE (overall equipment effectiveness) is that, while it’s undoubtedly important, it’s not a silver bullet and shouldn’t be treated as such.

That is to say, an OEE score of 100% doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re running the most efficient production line in the world – nor is an OEE score that high a realistic goal to begin with. Instead, OEE is simply a way to benchmark the meaningful progress you’re making on a daily basis. As you eliminate waste and improve efficiency, that score should be slowly but steadily increasing.

Because of that, there are a few important mistakes that you need to avoid to really extract the most insight from your OEE measurements moving forward.

The OEE Mistakes You Can’t Afford to Make: An Overview

By far, the biggest mistake that organizations make when it comes to OEE involves focusing more on the score itself and less on the underlying losses.

You may measure OEE for the first time and hit a score of 90% and think to yourself that you’re in really good shape. From a certain perspective, you are – but that doesn’t mean there aren’t opportunities for improvement that you can take advantage of.

The real value of OEE comes from how it helps you understand not what is currently working, but what could be working better if you take the appropriate actions. From that perspective, your scores in terms of availability, performance and quality are less important than what they reveal to you about availability losses, performance losses and quality losses.

Rather than putting all of your attention on a percentage, always try to extract something meaningful from the discussion about the sources of these losses. Once you know that, you essentially know everything you need to take steps to reduce them – thus improving the efficiency of your operations across the board.

Another mistake that you should work hard to avoid involves collecting too much data as it pertains to OEE. The beauty of OEE is in its simplicity – meaning that you need to avoid “asking too much” from your data beyond the straightforward narrative that can’t help but reveal itself. Data volumes are already exploding, to the point where businesses invest in sophisticated analytical solutions just to even attempt to make sense of it all. You don’t need to make things worse by forcing your equipment operators to essentially do two jobs at the same time.

When in doubt, keep it simple. There can absolutely be “too much of a good thing,” and huge volumes of data fall into that category. At a certain point, you’ll hit diminishing returns. Rather than collecting so much information that you become bogged down by it all, practice the old idea of “less is more.” It’s not about quantity, it’s about quality.

If you’re interested in learning more about the biggest mistakes pertaining to OEE that you should be working hard to avoid, or if you’d just like to discuss your own needs with someone in a bit more detail, please don’t delay – contact Thrive today.



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OEE: A Balanced Approach to Improving Productivity

One of the truly great things about OEE (overall equipment effectiveness) is that it gives you a complete, holistic look at your production lines as they exist at the moment.

As a metric, it’s calculated by taking a closer look at three essential factors: availability, performance and quality. Hypothetically speaking, say you were able to achieve an OEE score of 100% (don’t worry, nobody has an OEE score of 100%). This means that you’re only producing high quality parts, as quickly as possible, with little to no downtime to speak of.

Sounds great, right? But the key thing to understand is that OEE is about so much more than just a number or a percentage. Each of those aforementioned elements give you a much-needed sense of perspective about how close you are to unlocking the full potential of your manufacturing process. That’s why you need to be willing to dive beneath the number – you need to take a more balanced approach to what that number is trying to tell you in order to meaningfully improve productivity in all the ways that you need.

OEE and the Bigger Picture

If nothing else, OEE is all about the “bigger picture” – meaning it’s a great way to give you a true “bird’s eye view” when it comes to how well you’re doing and where you could be doing even better.

Performance losses, for example, will include all of those elements that cause your various production processes to operate at less-than-maximum speeds. Some of these, you absolutely need to act on as soon as you can – including things like machine wear, working with substandard materials and more. But depending on the context, some of these things you may be okay with. Slower cycles may be dictated not by inefficiencies but by the part being manufactured. Small stops may be required by virtue of whatever it is you’re trying to accomplish at the moment.

The same is true of something like availability losses. Obviously, equipment failures and unplanned maintenance are things you should work to get control over. But you can only improve the amount of time it takes to complete a changeover so much before you begin asking for something that isn’t actually realistic. You’re still employing human beings, after all.

All of this is to say that you should resist the urge to look at your OEE score as a definitive look at how your production lines are currently doing. Instead, you need to consider the context that brought you to that score at this particular moment. Absolutely nobody has an OEE score of 100%, so don’t make the mistake of assuming that this is the goal you’re working towards.

Instead, start to see OEE for what it really is: an opportunity for meaningful, continuous improvement. If you’re able to fully buy into that perspective, there really is no limit to what you can accomplish.

To find out more information about using OEE as a more balanced approach to improving productivity, or to get answers to any other specific questions you might have, please don’t delay – contact Thrive today.


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The Major Benefits of OEE for Automotive Manufacturing  

At its core, Overall Equipment Effectiveness (otherwise known as OEE for short) is all about unlocking the full potential of your manufacturing lines whenever possible. As your OEE score inches closer to 100%, it means that you’re only producing A) high quality parts, B) as quickly as possible, with C) little-to-no stop time to speak of.

Of course, it’s also a best practice that brings with it unique advantages to every industry – with automotive manufacturing being chief among them. In fact, there are a number of clear benefits for automotive organizations in particular that are more than worth exploring.

The Power of OEE: Breaking Things Down

The automotive industry is nothing if not competitive – organizations are constantly looking for ways to reduce production losses to help preserve their razor-thin profit margins at the exact same time. That may very well be the biggest impact that OEE has on automotive manufacturers – not only does it instantly clue you into why you may not be producing as many parts per hour as you should be, but it does so in a way that helps to increase the very competitiveness of the business as well.

Another one of the major benefits of OEE for auto manufacturers has to do with how it allows them to finally unlock the peak performance from the machinery they’ve already invested so heavily in. From the moment of your solution’s deployment, the performance of the machines that you’re tracking will begin to increase exponentially. To that end, it isn’t just great for helping to achieve the full potential of new machines – it also helps maximize the ones that have been in use for years, too.

But truly, maybe the biggest benefit that OEE brings to auto manufacturers has to do with how it finally puts them in a position to not only measure their efforts, but to make better and more informed decisions regarding the future direction of their company, too. Keep in mind that if you’re not measuring something, you can’t be truly certain of what’s working and what isn’t – meaning that you can’t improve it, either.

Therefore, it’s critical to not just understand which production processes are efficient or not. You also need the context surrounding those inefficiencies, thus putting you in a better position to actually do something about them.

That in and of itself is the beauty of OEE – it helps you uncover the actual “truth” of your production processes, all so that you can get rid of what isn’t working and double down on what is as quickly as you’re able to. Every day, you’re uncovering new opportunities to improve your operations that may have otherwise gone undiscovered. To that end, the improvements you’re able to capitalize on after embracing OEE are essentially without limit.

If you’d like to find out more information about the major benefits of OEE in the world of automotive manufacturing, or if you’d just like to discuss your own situation with someone in a bit more detail, please don’t delay – contact Thrive today.