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.