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.