Get the Machine on Your Team

November 25, 2014 – In order to improve competitive position, manufacturers must first understand if they are getting the most out of their equipment set. The best way to do this is to first designate a production team to measure performance and understand where improvements are needed. But the question remains: “How do I assess my equipment performance?”

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Quantifying Overall Equipment Efficiency (OEE) is a great way to analyze, improve, and get the machine on your team. OEE breaks the performance of a manufacturing unit into three separate but measurable components: availability, performance and quality. Each component points to an aspect of the process that can be targeted for improvement. OEE may be applied to any individual work center, or rolled up to department or plant levels. This tool also allows for drilling down for very specific evaluations, such as a particular part number, shift, or any of several other parameters. It is unlikely that any manufacturing process can run at 100% OEE. Many manufacturers benchmark their industry to set a challenging target; 85% is not uncommon.

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Having the production team focus on these metrics daily can yield a measureable improvement to factory performance. The production team should include key members from the plant: Operations, Purchasing, Production Control, Stock Room, SMT Process, Machine Operators, and Manufacturing Engineering. Once you get established and become familiar with the data collection requirements, you’ll start to get a feel for what you will want to see every day – that’s right, every day! You’ll gain a better understanding of how pinpoint and to influence specific production elements. Continue to challenge the team to identify areas of potential improvement and initiate changes to enable those improvements. “How many changeovers did we do and how long did it take? What if we changed this method, would that improve our changeover time?”; “What caused the micro-stoppages during production? Can we eliminate that by doing this differently?” Keep in mind that it is a journey with a relentless pursuit of continuous improvement.

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When it comes to manufacturing, regardless of what you’re building, there are four key elements: people, machines, methods and materials. In order to maximize the effectiveness of your machines as an integral part of your operations, take full advantage of the data collection they can provide you every day. When choosing your equipment vendor, consider the software capabilities and level of data collection capability. This will be very important as you optimize your factory by getting the machine on your team.

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