16 Oct
2023

The Synergy Between Lean Manufacturing and OEE Monitoring

Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) monitoring plays a crucial role in the realm of lean manufacturing, serving as an essential tool to assess and enhance the efficiency and productivity of manufacturing processes.

OEE
Lean Manufacturing
The Synergy Between Lean Manufacturing and OEE Monitoring

Since Henry Ford introduced a streamlined manufacturing strategy in 1910, Lean Manufacturing, in its progressive forms, has become the holy grail for transforming manufacturing operations into a well-oiled machine. Boosted by computer-aided technologies and the global drive toward efficiency, the lean process took on a whole new life in the 1980s. Books were written, classes taught, and consultants helped companies implement lean methodology, tools, and best practices.

Today lean principles are being complemented by the monitoring of Operational Equipment Effectiveness (OEE). Together, these programs form a dynamic duo for manufacturers. Let’s examine the relationship between OEE monitoring and Lean Manufacturing, shedding light on how these two concepts intertwine to drive continuous improvement in manufacturing operations.

Operational Equipment Efficiency

OEE is a metric that measures how well manufacturing machinery is performing compared to its full potential. It is calculated as the ratio of time that equipment is running relative to planned production time. OEE considers three key factors: Availability, Performance (i.e., Efficiency), and Quality. Each of these components plays a crucial role in determining your relationship to peak performance:

  • Availability: This measures the time your equipment is actively working versus the total time production was planned. Unplanned downtime such as breakdowns reduces availability.
  • Performance: This considers how efficiently your equipment runs when it's operational. Are there slowdowns, idling, or any factors that hinder its speed?
  • Quality: Finally, this factor looks at the quality of the products coming off the production line. Are they meeting your standards, or are they rejects?

Because many manufacturing lines are only about 50% productive, even incremental improvements have a tremendous impact.

Why OEE Matters

So, why is OEE a big deal when Lean Manufacturing already promises efficiency? The simple answer is that together, they form a dynamic partnership. While Lean Manufacturing principles seek to eliminate waste and optimize overall production systems, OEE monitoring provides a means to pinpoint and address specific sources of inefficiency within these systems.

This interplay between OEE monitoring and lean manufacturing results in not only reduced downtime and increased equipment performance but also contributes to the overarching goal of delivering maximum value to customers by enhancing overall process efficiency.

Think of it like a high-performance sports car. While Lean Manufacturing can help you to efficiently navigate the roadway, OEE monitoring is that high-octane fuel that turbocharges the engine. Your manufacturing floor’s production engine.

When monitored OEE brings with it several key benefits:

  • Identifying Bottlenecks: OEE helps pinpoint the exact areas in your production process that need improvement. Is it a specific machine that's always starting late or offline? Or maybe it's an inefficiency in the way your operators are handling the equipment. OEE will reveal these bottlenecks so that you can address them head-on.
  • Maximizing Equipment Usage: Your machinery is an expensive asset and OEE ensures that you're getting the most from that investment.
  • Boosting Profitability: Higher efficiency means reduced production costs. When you're not wasting time, materials, or labor, you're saving money.
  • Improving Quality: OEE isn't just about uptime and speed; it's also about quality. Closely monitoring quality allows you to analyze defects and address issues that lead to greater customer satisfaction.
  • Enhancing Decision-Making: Armed with OEE data, you can make informed decisions. Whether it's scheduling maintenance, adjusting production schedules, or investing in new equipment, you'll have the insights to make impactful decisions. And this all translates into increased production without added equipment, shifts, or resources.

Putting OEE to Work

The best part about OEE is that it doesn’t require a big investment or a large staff to manage it. As a result, every manufacturer regardless of size or industry can see some big results.  There are however some important steps to follow to help ensure success.

  • Collect and Measure: It is critical to monitor and quantify production output, note equipment downtime, speed, and track product quality.
  • Set Baselines: You need to know where you're starting from to measure progress. Establish baseline OEE scores for your equipment and set achievable improvement goals.
  • Engage Your Team: Get your operators and line workers involved. Embracing OEE as an improvement tool rather than a reprimanding metric can revolutionize the manufacturing process and foster a culture of excellence.
  • Continuous Improvement: Just like Lean Manufacturing, OEE is an ongoing process. Regularly review your data, identify areas for improvement, and implement changes. It's a cycle of constant enhancement.

The key is to collect and continually measure production. And manufacturing production monitoring systems make this easier than ever. These systems collect operating data directly from manufacturing equipment or via sensors strategically placed on the production line. Data is managed by software that maps actual production against targets. This provides management, supervisors, and line workers with relevant information related to performance and key metrics such as OEE.

The New Path Toward Maximum Production

Maximum operational efficiency is a destination, and the value of Lean Manufacturing, Just-in-Time (JIT) production, kaizen, six sigma, and similar approaches cannot be overstated in reaching that destination. For decades these strategies have provided manufacturers with a pathway to new levels of efficiency, and they remain important manufacturing strategies.

While Lean Manufacturing eliminates waste, OEE monitoring acts as a focused, quantitative lens through which the broader objectives of lean manufacturing can be achieved.  But OEE isn't just a metric; it's a mindset. It supports lean programs to unlock the full potential of your equipment - it's the path to higher production, efficiency, and profitability.

Learn how Worximity can provide meaningful data to drive improvement by watching a quick software demonstration or by booking a demo.

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