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.