19 Jul 2024

Following the path to improved Overall Equipment Effectiveness

OEE

Martin Hurley, business development manager for industrial automation specialist Novotek Ireland, looks at how you can improve efficiency, reduce downtime, and increase Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE).

What are your most expensive resources in manufacturing? For many, it will be people, equipment, and raw materials. To be more profitable, you need to make the most of these costly elements.

Overall Equipment Effectiveness is an industry-standard measurement that factors in three specific metrics from your operation: availability, quality, and performance.  Anything that prevents machines from running correctly or impacts the effectiveness of your operators will affect your OEE figures and, in turn, your bottom line. So, how can you reduce breakdowns, mitigate short stops, and improve uptime?

The answer is visibility. Without accurate information and data, inefficiencies will continue to accumulate and, over a given period, present a significant loss of availability. Unfortunately, skilled operators are often firefighting when breakdowns occur, working to resolve the symptoms of an issue rather than tackling the core problem.

Compounding this issue is a requirement for these same operators to fill out paperwork relating to unplanned downtime, often retrospectively. Gathering data in this way further adds to workloads and is often far less detailed, complete, and accurate than is required for ongoing operational improvement.

Understanding the root causes of unplanned downtime requires automated data capture and intuitive, actionable visualisations. With an appropriate platform in place, you’ll gain the visibility needed to resolve the root cause of downtime issues and undertake the continuous improvement necessary to remain competitive in the modern manufacturing industry.

Automation also reduces operator workloads while providing far richer data at a greater resolution than manual entry. The result is the ability to make data-driven decisions. The reasons for short stops could be simple, but often the focus on getting the machine running again can mean operators fail to recognise the root cause behind numerous short breakdown periods.

There are many systems in the market with the functionality to provide visibility for the purposes of OEE. However, by choosing a standalone solution, you also introduce another isolated silo of information formed from disparate sources without context, preventing high-level analysis.

The alternatives are off-the-shelf consolidated applications that provide a greater level of insight thanks to increased context, intuitive user interfaces, and wider connectivity with existing systems and equipment.

When looking to increase your availability figures, reducing unplanned downtime is an essential factor alongside reducing planned downtime. Connected smart maintenance, planning, and scheduling tools work with data-collection solutions to improve changeover speeds, planning, and maintenance routines.

Novotek has been implementing OEE and downtime analysis solutions for many years. We work with leading vendors to provide a streamlined implementation that will be delivering results rapidly, enabling you to focus on improving your operational performance.

To achieve this, Novotek has a proven methodology that allows for taking advantage of customers’ existing investments in automation and systems: connect, model, store, visualise and optimise. By ensuring that each of these is understood in the context of the capability – such as OEE metrics and detailed reporting – that a customer is seeking, we can ensure that both tool choices, and engineering time are aimed appropriately. And it allows for foundational work like connectivity, modelling or storage to be done in ways that leave the door open to meet additional needs over time.

Our expert team can help you shape your OEE effort so that the systems work doesn’t take over the project. Allowing you to focus on the data that has been captured and utilise that information to make decisions and optimise for the future. Fewer faults, more efficient workflows, and mitigating the causes of short stops means increased uptime. And time, as the saying goes, is money.

Company info: Novotek UK & Ireland