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10 Ways to Not Screw Up the OEE Project – It is More Important than You Think

Author: Rich Grilli/Wednesday, April 01, 2015/Categories: Engineers Viewpoint

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Is there a mandate in your company to increase OEE and it has landed on your plate? Ah yes, the OEE approach. You remember what that is right? The Overall Equipment Effectiveness metric as developed in Japan during restoration made famous in crafting some serious efficiency. Well, someone in management has decided that THIS is the way to make his world better and now it’s up to you to make it happen.

But there are pitfalls along the way:

  • Somebody is going to tell you that the best way to start is collecting data manually so that you can understand the process better.
  • Somebody else is going to say that “your” OEE is fine, but the real problem is _____________  (fill in the blank from the following:  SPC, lot tracking, scrap, downtime, indirect time, maintenance, line scheduling, set-up reductions, etc., etc.)
  • Somebody “big” (The VP Ops) is going old school and needs proof that an OEE system will work for his people.

This puts you in a tight spot. An OEE project requires that a lot of people get involved and they’ll all have their own ideas. Try to satisfy them all and you’ll have a 6 figure project with 18 months to implement. Even if it gets approved, good luck getting it implemented successfully. This could get ugly if you’re not careful.

Mach two and the problems that occur at speed.

Should you be concerned about any of this? Guess what, you’re right. Picture this – the crazed Line 1 supervisor approaches you with a can of red paint in one hand and a paintbrush in the other. As he lays out his requirements, he quickly paints you into a corner, smiling the whole time. Once he has you where he wants you, he lights his hair on fire and then leaves! After all, he has a lot of work to do.

I’ve seen this scenario played out many times. OK, maybe the “hair on fire” thing is a bit extreme, but you know what I’m talking about. Over and over, the same issues arose. OEE is great, but what about labor? We can’t spend time collecting data – it will take away from making product. The system has to be idiot-proof because our people aren’t computer savvy.

Is the Key to happiness a good OEE?

Not everyone has the same priorities. Importance is relative in the big picture. And what’s important today may not be tomorrow. So how do you put together a project that will address the desires of all the stakeholders? What’s the best way to navigate the political landscape that’s been laid out in front of you without getting off course? I have to be honest with you. Most of these projects fail before they’re implemented and never get off the ground. Now it’s up to YOU to make sure that doesn’t happen.

And get the efficiency you know is buried in the system and the data that comes out of it.

What if you had a plan going-in that could deal with all of this? Your life will be easier, you’ll get the recognition you deserve, and you may become known as that “someone who can get things done”.

Remember your 7P’s: Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance. 

10 Ways to Succeed at an OEE Project Where 90% Fail at Trying

  1. Collect the requirements.  Learn from everyone with the intent of developing a phased approach to implementing on your shop floor with OEE being Phase 1.
  2. Create your list.  Capture all of required functions, taking into account what the “output” of the system will be. What does the plant manager need to see in real-time? What KPI’s does each line need displayed in real-time? What reports are required?
  3. Insist Upon Real-time.  In the moment data for the right OEE is the right approach.  If it’s possible, collect the data automatically. Remember that real-time feedback to line operators results in an automatic increase in OEE.
  4. Evaluate your lines.   Focus where production counts can be monitored automatically. If the data is in your PLC’s, can you get it out? OPC communication is the right way to go here. If not, the approach is to install a new dedicated PLC with sensors installed on each line.
  5. Find Your Data Points.  If automatic production monitoring is not applicable, what will be your collection points and how will you collect the data?
  6. Calculate the Load.  Determine how to load the “job” you’re reporting on into the OEE system. This will typically be the order/operation or the product from the ERP.
  7. Recognize Great Data. Do not accept “manual collection of data” as a viable approach because it produces false results and is labor-intensive.
  8. Be Tough.  Evaluate systems based on OEE specificity to start and expandability to future phase functions as determined by your requirements. Plan to justify the OEE purchase on its own merits.
  9. Go Easy.  Make sure the system is easy to implement. Software installation and configuration should take no more than 2 weeks.
  10. Be Simple.  Put together a detailed but simple project plan indicating who will do what, how long it will take, and how you will monitor progress.

Execution is Everything

So now you have a plan with knowledge of the challenges that will occur and how to deal with them. This is a plan that is well-tested and that works, so your chances for success are good. Don’t worry, you may not be an expert in OEE at this point but you will be shortly. And best of all, you’ll not only look like you know what you’re doing, you actually will.

An Expert is someone who attempted the unachievable and survived to tell about it.

Ok, let’s go get that data and turn it into real information that can be used to improve OEE, not just monitor it.

And remember, you are not alone in this.  There are many people cheering you onward --  including us.  If you need a little encouragement, don’t hesitate to call.

About the author:

Rich Grilli is the president of Crossroads RMC, which helps manufacturers optimize their operations. He is a long-time numbers-guy and engineer who has a passion for systemic models that work. Rich is very interested in designing, planning, and analyzing different aspects of a company's production methods. Because he’s been around many manufacturing plants worldwide, he has developed a deep understanding about coordinating/improving quality control, implementing new strategies for product assembly, troubleshooting inefficiencies, and making process improvements that make a difference.


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Rich Grilli
 Rich Grilli

Rich Grilli

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3 comments on article "10 Ways to Not Screw Up the OEE Project – It is More Important than You Think"



7/25/2014 11:47 AM

A great post. How do I find out more about OEE?


Rich Grilli

7/26/2014 10:49 AM

Thanks. You can Google OEE or Overall Equipment Effectiveness and find quite a bit of info there. Or if you work at a manufacturing company and want to pursue an OEE project, one of our consultants would be happy to engage with you. Thanks again for your interest.


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4/3/2018 6:40 AM

The ideas you posted are incredible are really fresh and unique. You have added the new hope and new excitement to the blog by adding this new work. I suggest everyone follow those rules and bring change in their project performance.

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