A client organization recently completed an OEE deployment. I asked the plant manager and production manager to share some of their thoughts on how it went and some of their learnings.

The plant manager stated “We really didn’t understand OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness) or the impacts of the program until we were down the road of implementation. OEE identifies the percentage of scheduled manufacturing time that is truly productive. It reveals the People, Process and Technology issues that are hidden, intuitively known and blatantly obvious. We struggled, but started to quickly learn the process to understanding and measuring OEE for the plant. We found that consistency in use of the data reviewed is foundational to our organizational gains. Having OEE gives us a standard way of measuring plant efficiency though not always effectiveness. We are getting better in what we do, but are now challenging what we are doing. We found that our improved OEE is the result of consistent use of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) review and action management. Consistency needs to be driven by the leaders on-site having clear operational expectations of what is required goes a long way toward operational excellence!”

The production manager added “I’d like to expand on your hidden, intuitively known and blatantly obvious comment. Everyone is aware of the blatantly obvious downtime or quality events. It becomes part of our organizational knowledge and we reference it when similar events happen. Our problem was that memories fade and our documentation was minimal or commonly non-existent. We now have discipline in documenting these events and the RCAs that they triggered. The intuitively known issues are the common problems that we have when we run a particular product, but just accept as “the cost of doing business”. This ties back to what was said about having initially improved efficiency somewhat, but are now working on effectiveness. We really didn’t start having a major impact on efficiency until we challenged these accepted losses and problems. The hidden losses were a real surprise to us and turned out to be where the real issues and opportunities are. It is surprising how small, repeating problems can add up. A few seconds or minutes here and there of downtime or seemingly occasional small quality issues can have a major impact. We were shocked on the actual amount of impact that these have on OEE.”

They deployed improvements in leadership involvement, engagement and focus. There was additional focus on increasing the effectiveness of meetings from performance visibility and accountability to corrective action management. Coaching sessions were initiated for KPI owners to ensure reliability and accuracy of the KPI data. Action triggers were developed and deployed for problem areas requiring root cause analysis and solutions. This resulted in engaged supervisors and operators with high mechanical compliance. They continue to build on this foundation toward complete organizational adoption and ownership.

The plant manager resumed “Engagement is the key word here. Once people trusted leadership, understood the principles of OEE and what it can do for them we started to drive sustainable performance. A challenge was to establish the behavior to pro-actively manage the People, Processes and Technology as per defined standards to consistently achieve results in alignment with the Organizational Strategy and Site Vision. This was supported by aligning measures, actions, visual tools and standard work to drive customer outputs and support expectations for each level of the organization. To insure the unique requirements of the organization critical areas and process were identified and then standardized. This resulted in improved consistency in our processes with more predictable results. Beyond what we did at our site we now recognize best practices and theses are standardized across our entire network. Now that the OEE data sources are understood we are measuring overall performance through the use of Key Performance Indicators. The KPIs allow us as managers to see the progress being made in the plant. KPIs, combined with associated Action management are the drivers of improvement in a plant.”

The production manager concluded “Now that we have the OEE foundation, KPIs are the fuel for the plants improvements. The KPIs that have been selected were carefully deployed so that their data sources, calculations, and meanings were understood by everyone. We review the KPIs at the appropriate level and frequency at formal, established meetings. For example, shift based KPIs are reviewed for each shift, both with associates and managers. Those most involved in the performance scores need to know the score and their impact on it. When a KPI measuring Availability on a particular line is reported out by the Supervisor the result is going to at/above expectations, or below expectations. When there was a “good” shift the KPI should be “green”. When there was a “bad” shift the KPI should turn “red”. The simplicity of KPI measurement and management is the magic of improving a plant’s OEE score. Remember, improving the OEE result in the plant results in tangible benefits, improved cash flow, decreased customer complaints, reduced raw material costs, etc. Again, the consistency of disciplined meetings with timely interactions between roles and functional groups will ensure performance visibility to the entire organization.”

This organization has successfully integrated People, Process and Technology to drive sustainable improvements as they develop an ownership culture. This process and the resulting improvements could help your organization too.