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The Importance of Using Similar Processes When Looking at OEE  

One of the truly great things about OEE (overall equipment effectiveness) is that it really is one of the most versatile metrics that you can track in terms of improving production. A lot of businesses use OEE scores across not only different production lines and sites, but across divisions, assets and even products, too.

While this can absolutely bring you a lot of useful information, it’s also important to recognize that all of these situations may not be appropriate for a strict one-to-one comparison. You should make an effort to only use OEE scores when taking a closer look at processes that are inherently similar to one another. This is true for a host of different reasons, all of which are worth exploring.

Understanding What OEE is Really Trying to Tell You

Maybe the most critical thing to understand about using OEE scores to compare one process to another is that it’s really only valuable when conditions align as closely as possible.

For the sake of example, let’s say you use OEE to benchmark the productivity of a production line that regularly goes through 10 changeovers a day. Yes, you’re absolutely going to learn a lot of valuable information about where your inefficiencies are, where you could potentially eliminate waste, and more.

But if you then use that metric to compare it to a production line that only has four changeovers a day, is that really a meaningful observation? Is it safe to say that the latter production line is inherently more efficient than the former, or does the nature of the product being manufactured dictate fewer changeovers? Could it be a case that some parts are simply harder to produce than others?

This, in essence, is why it’s so important to resist the urge to use OEE to compare too many dissimilar processes. On the surface, you may see that Production Line A has an OEE score of 85% while Production Line B has an OEE score of 75%. The very nature of those processes may be too dissimilar to properly compare, however. At that point you’re only getting farther away from your goal, not closer to it.

Instead, you need to see OEE for what it really is: an opportunity to “improve” within the context of whatever it is you happen to be taking a look at. So rather than using it as a mechanism to compare one production line to the other, instead use it as a chance to measure progress over time. Use it as a chance for self-reflection – the moves you make should cause your OEE scores to tick slowly upwards over time. So long as that is true, you’re definitely headed in the right direction.

If you’d like to find out more information about the importance of using similar processes when taking a closer look at your OEE scores, or if you have any additional questions you’d like to discuss with someone in a bit more detail, please don’t hesitate to contact Thrive today.


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Why OEE Software Became Critical During COVID-19  

Being able to track the Overall Equipment Effectiveness of your production lines has always been of paramount importance. Obviously, you always want to take meaningful steps to make sure that you’re producing A) only good parts, B) as quickly as possible, C) with as little downtime as you can handle.

But in early March of 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic began to quickly sweep the world, OEE became exponentially more critical. During that time, the situation was evolving rapidly and actionable information about what to do, how to do it and how to keep people safe was at a minimum. Organizational leaders had to think fast and walk a fine line between the health of their employees and the future of their business.

Many of them turned to OEE in order to do it.

Why OEE Matters During a Pandemic

In the initial weeks of the pandemic, most non-essential businesses found themselves shut down with employees sent home indefinitely. Even when many areas did deem manufacturing organizations as essential – meaning they could open back up again – they were doing so at a limited capacity.

At that point, waste is simply not something you can afford to deal with. Every minute that you have the opportunity to open up and get those production lines running is a minute that you need to be operating at peak efficiency, no matter what.

This is why those organizations who have been using OEE all along to systematically improve their manufacturing process as much as possible were able to hit the ground running as the pandemic set in. They had insight into their losses, they had a viable way to benchmark progress and they knew how to extract the most value out of every last piece of equipment on the floor.

OEE also proved itself to be important because of the entirely new sets of decisions that most organizational leaders now faced. If you can only have 50% of your employees on the shop floor at any given moment, how exactly do you pick who stays and who goes? If you can see the performance of individual operators and how well they’re using and interacting with their equipment, suddenly you can prioritize labor allocation in a much more informed way.

But even with vaccines rolling out across the country and an end to the pandemic finally (potentially) in sight, none of this is going to take a back seat anytime soon. OEE will continue to matter because it takes into account ALL losses – and it gives you the information you need to eliminate them as much as possible. Those businesses that continue to let OEE be their guide won’t just get back on their feet again once everything “returns to normal” – they’ll also have the basis of what will become a major competitive advantage for themselves in their industry. Likewise, they’ll be uniquely prepared for a similar disruptive event should it take place in the future, which may very well be the most important benefit of all.


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Turning Data Into Insight and Insight Into Action With Downtime Tracking

Obviously, downtime that is allowed to occur for ANY reason is a major concern for manufacturers everywhere. Sure, you may recover from the event and get things back up and running again in an hour or so. But you’re still dealing with an hour of lost capacity that can never, ever be regained.

There was a time when manually recording downtime events on paper was “enough”, but rest assured those days are long over. Not only can the right downtime tracking solution give you more visibility into these downtime events than ever before, but they also put you in an incredible position to turn data into insight (and insight into action) across the board.

Downtime Tracking: Putting Your Data to Work For You

To get an idea of just how important this is, consider what you can do with a downtime tracking solution like Thrive. From moments after your initial deployment, you’ll be able to automatically capture both start and stop events, along with the context surrounding unplanned downtime events, via a solution that can connect directly to any machine on your shop floor.

So right away, you’re already increasing the visibility of your downtime events and are getting alerted to them far faster – allowing you to do something about them as quick as you can.

But diving deeper, you’re also getting more accuracy than ever before. You don’t have to wonder whether or not the duration of a downtime event is correct, for example, because you’ll know beyond the shadow of a doubt. As time goes on, you’ll be able to see the common downtime categories and reasons for each type of event as it occurs. You won’t just know that there was a pause in productivity – you’ll be able to separate planned stops from unplanned stops, see issues like material shortages or manpower shortages, uncover the specific reasons for technical issues and beyond.

At that point, you have most of what you need to prevent these types of issues from happening again in the future. If your data is giving you the insight that 80% of your downtime instances have to do with manpower shortages, you know you need to bring more people into the fold. If planned maintenance or shift changeovers are taking too long, you’ll be able to quickly find out why so you can put a stop to it.

That’s why data is so important in a manufacturing environment – it’s not just about WHAT is happening, but WHY. Once you know that, you have the insight you need to take the best action possible given the circumstances. This in and of itself more than justifies the investment for most people.

If you’d like to find out more information about turning data into insight and action with downtime tracking, or if you just have any additional questions that you’d like to discuss with someone in a bit more detail, please don’t delay – contact the team at Thrive today.


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How a Manufacturing KPI Dashboard Can Uncover the True Story Beneath Your Organization

Though the technology behind a manufacturing KPI dashboard may be sophisticated, the overall goal is anything but: it’s a resource designed to give you a real-time view into your manufacturing process, presenting critical information from machines, sensors, systems and even people in the most user-friendly way possible.

In a general sense, they’re designed to help organizations like yours not only monitor production but also optimize it in a way that allows you to make meaningful gains in terms of quality and efficiency, too.

But in a macro sense, they also give you key insight into the specific operations that matter most to you. Not only can you see all of your historical performance data with just a few quick clicks of your mouse, but you get to compare it to current data just as easily. This is a perfect chance to really uncover the true story playing out beneath your organization, allowing past results to shed insight into where you may be going moving forward.

Putting the Manufacturing Dashboard to Work For You
Obviously, the major benefit of this type of manufacturing KPI dashboard is that you can complete visibility into your production lines from anywhere, at any time, and on any device. You can see exactly what is working and, more importantly, what isn’t. You can understand where your bottlenecks are and take steps to mitigate risk from them as much as possible.

Thanks to the sheer volume of data you have access to, however, you can compare factors and monitor how the relationship of one element of your business impacts the other. You can also use analytics to uncover trends and patterns that further illustrate the relationship between different departments or even different pieces of equipment.

The added benefit of this is that it makes sure the right person always has information at exactly the right time. Someone in the head office may want to look at trends pertaining to those metrics that matter most to them, like cost savings opportunities or risk management. Someone on the factory floor might not care about that at all, instead choosing to dive deeper into production quality. A department supervisor may want to take a closer look at the status of a particular machine, or even scrap levels.

The most critical thing to understand is that a manufacturing dashboard allows you to do all of this and more, all at the exact same time.

Have you ever been watching a movie and you were so invested in the story that you were able to predict the ending before it happened? Obviously, when you pay $15 for a movie ticket, that’s a less than ideal outcome. In the world of manufacturing, you don’t want to deal with those types of surprises. When you understand are invested in the true story happening with your organization, you can see exactly where it’s headed – allowing you to take the meaningful steps today necessary to make that vision of tomorrow a reality.

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The Importance of Visibility Across Your Manufacturing Process  

Every single day, the sheer volume of data that your manufacturing business is creating is growing exponentially – and that is one trend that is not going to slow down anytime soon.

Inside this data is the insight you need to make the best decisions possible given all of the various challenges you face. From which lines are devoted to which products to employee allocation to asset utilization – you name it, the information you need to take control over all of it is right there inside that data, waiting to get out.

Of course, sometimes this can be easier said than done – particularly if you don’t have a process in place to draw that insight from the data itself. This, in essence, is why visibility across your manufacturing process is so essential – it helps make sure that you’re actually able to act on data, as opposed to just letting it sit on a server somewhere.

The Power of Visibility: An Overview

In a general sense, data visibility refers to how easy it is for you to monitor, display and analyze data from all of the various sources you’re working with. In other words, it’s about making sure that you have the most vivid picture to work from. You don’t just know the end result of all of your manufacturing efforts. You’re not just limited to basic facts like “this worked” or “this didn’t.”

You always know exactly what is going on, why it’s going on, and what tangible benefits you expect to get as a result. If one of your lines suffers an issue, you don’t just know what happened. You know why it happened, at which point you also know exactly what you need to do to STOP it from happening again in the future.

In a lot of ways, this is why a downtime tracking solution like Thrive is one of the best investments you can make. Not only do you get a chance to increase visibility across your manufacturing process today, but you can also take a deep dive into your historical performance as well. You can compare and contrast the way things are to the way they were, making sure that you’re always on a trajectory to unlock the way you HOPE they will be.

This level of visibility holds the key to everything – from making sure that your equipment is functioning at peak efficiency to guaranteeing that you have enough employees on hand to better allocating training funds and beyond. It’s about giving you as much insight as possible into not just your process but your business, all in the name of acting on that as much as you can moving forward.

If you’d like to find out more information about the importance of visibility across your manufacturing process, or if you’re just eager to see what type of impact a downtime tracking solution can do for your business, please don’t delay – contact the team at Thrive today.



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The Major Advantages of Downtime Tracking for Construction Manufacturing and Related Materials

On the one hand, you probably don’t need to be told that you should be tracking instances of downtime in your construction business. Regardless of how short the events are, downtime still means lost revenue for your business – so it’s in your best interest to keep a watchful eye on this as much as possible.

But that doesn’t mean simply jotting down some comments in a notebook. Today’s downtime tracking solutions can bring with them big benefits for construction manufacturing and related materials organizations in particular that you should definitely be aware of moving forward.

The Core Benefits of Downtime Tracking for Construction Companies

One of the major reasons why downtime tracking is so important to construction businesses in particular ultimately comes down to the idea that time is money.

When an unplanned downtime event occurs on a construction site or in a similar environment, absolutely no value is being produced to speak of – but despite that, overhead costs continue to grow. People that you’re paying are standing around, unable to do their jobs… but are still getting paid. Clients are growing impatient because they’re not getting the results they were after. The list goes on and on.

In fact, according to one recent study, an unplanned downtime event can cost as much as $260,000 an hour in some cases once both “real” and “hidden” costs like the above are accounted for.

So why is downtime tracking so important for construction manufacturing? Because while you can never totally eliminate the possibility of something going wrong, the faster you can find out WHY it went wrong means that you’re able to fix the problem as quickly as you can.

Another major reason why downtime tracking is so important in construction manufacturing ultimately comes down to the lifetime value of your equipment. Armed with accurate and actionable downtime data, a maintenance manager can now prioritize things like preventative maintenance as much as possible. They can help prolong the life of your equipment as long as they can, all to make sure that A) that piece of machinery is still functioning at peak efficiency, and B) to push that inevitable equipment replacement cost down the road as much as possible.

Even when a piece of equipment DOES need to be replaced, it’s far easier to justify if you’ve been tracking its performance over the long-term. You’ll have cold, hard numbers that you can turn to in order to say “look, this is holding us back. It’s breaking down far too often, which is costing this amount of money. By continuing to maintain it, it won’t save nearly as much as it appears, and it should be replaced.”

This is the type of insight you’re not going to get anywhere else, which is why downtime tracking is and will always be worth the investment.

If you’d like to find out even more information about the major advantages of downtime tracking for construction manufacturing and related materials, or if you’d just like to discuss your own technology needs with someone in a bit more detail, please don’t hesitate to reach out to your partners at Thrive today.


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Using OEE to Comply With Even the Most Rigid Quality Standards

Regardless of the industry you’re operating in, it’s safe to say that you likely have a variety of quality standards that you’re dealing with on a daily basis. This is true both in terms of the regulatory bodies that govern the industry itself (as is the case in the food and beverage industry, for example) and with regards to the expectations of your clients. If you’re constantly delivering sub-par parts to clients, they won’t remain your clients for very long.

As a measure of availability, performance and quality, OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness) is your key to tackling this ever important issue head on. In fact, it’s a viable way to comply with even the most rigid quality standards in a number of ways you should definitely keep in mind.

OEE: Superior Standards, Superior Quality

As stated, OEE takes a look at the relationship between three important metrics: availability, performance and quality. But for the purposes of this discussion, let’s focus on the final one: quality.

In the context of OEE, “quality” tells you the ratio of “good” output compared to your “actual” output. In other words, it’s a percentage of how many parts were able to meet your quality standards versus how many were actually produced.

Note that absolutely any defective part that you produce, including those that need to be reworked, repaired or scrapped altogether, are not counted as a “quality” part.

What this really offers you is an opportunity to look at each part of your manufacturing process – right down to the individual machines themselves – and see where you’re not adding any value. You can never assume that there is nothing to improve, even if you’re technically meeting your quality standards. Likewise, when you do experience downtime or have some other type of event occur, taking a closer look at the “quality” part of OEE can definitely help you identify what went wrong and why.

In terms of the quality standards that you’re trying to meet, OEE is also a great way to provide some much-needed focus for your teams. By making this data available in a way that is easy to understand for everyone (from your newest hire right down to those who have been with you since the beginning), you’re teaching them what a loss is and how to identify it when they’re working. At that point, you’re empowering people to take a greater degree of control over the quality of their own output – thus increasing accountability and quality at the exact same time.

It’s not something you can do if you’re not actively measuring in the first place, which is a bit part of the reason why OEE is so important.

If you’d like to learn even more about how to use Overall Equipment Effectiveness to comply with even the most rigid quality standards in your industry, or if you’d just like to find out more about what an impact downtime tracking can have on your business, please don’t delay – contact the team at Thrive today.



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How to Leverage Manufacturing Software for Better and More Forward-Thinking Production Management  

Even though we’re definitely living in a tech-based world, it’s still common to find manufacturers who just don’t understand the need for downtime tracking and other solutions on their shop floors. “We’ve gotten this far without it,” they often say to themselves. “Why do I need this now?”

Simply put, manufacturing software isn’t just important – it’s your key to better and more forward-thinking production management moving forward and this is true for a variety of reasons that are certainly worth a closer look.

A Bold New Era of Production Management Has Arrived

If you had to sum up all of the benefits of production management software in a single word, “context” would undoubtedly be it.

For example, you obviously don’t need technology to tell you that you’re dealing with a breakdown or some other type of equipment failure. You know it because you’ve seen the end result – there was a period of time where your lines weren’t running and you’re dealing with production shortages as a result.

But what that technology CAN tell you is WHY the equipment failure occurred. It can shed insight into whether or not it was a maintenance issue (like if it had been too long since the machine’s last bout of routine maintenance), operator error or something else entirely. You can even see if machine setups and adjustments are just taking longer than they should, all so that you can put yourself in a better position to do something about them.

Likewise, these same types of manufacturing solutions can also generate incredible insight into the types of factors that are impacting performance. On your own, you probably have a solid understanding of how many parts you SHOULD be producing during a given time frame versus what results you’re actually getting. But with manufacturing software, you again learn that critical WHY – you can see how long your machines spend idling, how long minor stoppages are actually taking, and see other factors that are ultimately reducing the speed of your operation.

But the best part of all is that you can also track all of these things on a historical basis, seeing the very real “cause and effect” of the efforts you’re taking on a daily basis. You can see how far you’ve come and make sure that you’re always moving in the right direction, all so that you can capitalize on opportunities for improvement whenever they arise. This is the type of thing that is difficult (and often impossible) to do on your own, and certainly in a world of pen and paper. They’re also why manufacturing software will only continue to play an invaluable role in your operations moving forward.

If you’d like to find out more about how to leverage manufacturing software for better and more forward-thinking production management, or if you’d just like to find out more about our innovative downtime tracking solution and what it can do for your business, please don’t delay – contact Thrive today.