When companies seek to optimize production, maximizing “overall equipment effectiveness” (OEE) is often seen as the universal key to success. This complex key figure is an important tool for manufacturing companies, such as those in the tobacco industry, and helps them to detect and avoid the waste of resources.
One of many
However, although the overall equipment effectiveness value provides useful information, it must be handled with care. After all, maximum OEE is not necessarily the same thing as economic success – which is the main objective for all manufacturers. In fact, overall equipment effectiveness is only one of several relevant indicators. It is particularly useful for identifying current problems in production and laying the foundation for a continuous improvement process (CIP).
This CIP is not just about ensuring high-quality products or minimizing costs at any price. “The key to achieving the lowest total costs and thus the optimum overall process is finding a holistic approach that optimizes the entire supply chain from the supplier to the customer,” says Marco Castro, Head of Hauni Consulting. “The first and most important factor in building success is producing an evaluation of the status quo for processes and organizations. This must be used to develop company-specific solutions. The aim is to leave behind mental boundaries and look at optimization projects in their wider context across different areas, such as logistics, purchasing, sales, production and maintenance.”
Between cost and benefit
When optimizing the OEE value, it is always necessary to weigh up the costs and benefits. The most important aspect is not the abstract key figure but the individual analysis of the production site. Bottlenecks – the weakest links in the production chain – must be identified and their effects classified in the same way as machine criticality, i.e. their significance to the entire production environment and the impact if they fail. It is also important to identify cost drivers that create higher avoidable costs. “With this analysis, it quickly becomes clear that continuous improvement processes require individual solutions. For example, it makes no sense at all to invest a huge amount of effort or capital in increasing product quality from 99 to 100 percent,” says Castro.