Tag: Lean Training

Game On – Playing it Safe with Lean

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Communicating a concept or methodology in a manner that doesn’t offend the current status quo is likely the biggest challenge we face as lean practitioners and consultants.  In all too many instances it seems that people are open to change as long as someone else is doing the changing.

To diffuse opposition and resistance to change, it is essential that everyone understands the concern or problem, the solution, inherent expectations, and consequences of remaining the same. Our objective then is to create a safe, non-threatening environment where new ideas and concepts can be explored without undermining the current infrastructure or the people and departments involved.  There are a number of options available to do just that:

  • I personally like to use analogies and stories to convey concepts or ideas that exemplify methods or processes that can be adapted to address a current situation, opportunity, or concern.
    • This is ideal for sharing the company vision, top-level ideas, and philosophies that help to explain the overall strategic direction or mission under discussion or of concern. 
    • Stories and analogies create opportunities to expand our thinking processes  and to look outside the immediate scope of our current business interests and circumstances.
  • I also recommend targeted books and selected reading that allow individuals to learn and understand at their own pace. Classics books include “The Goal” by Eliyahu Goldratt and Jeff Cox, “Velocity” by Dee Jacob, Suzan Bergland, and Jeff Cox , “Toyota Kata” by Mike Rother, and The High Velocity Edge by Steven Spear.
    • Offering a list of recommended books for individual study is likely the least intrusive, however, participation cannot be assured and does not promote interaction among team members.
    • The reader learns the thinking processes and solutions as developed by the authors. 
  • Formal classroom or in-house training may also be effective, however, it can be costly and is inherently exclusive to the participants.  It is also difficult for non-participants to become as knowledgeable or proficient with the material without attending the course or training for themselves.
    • Outside training is inherently more generic in nature due to the diverse range of companies and individuals that are represented in the class.
    • In-house training can be more effective to address a specific concern, however, it’s true effectiveness is limited to the participants.
    • The concepts and thinking processes are developed and conveyed as prescriptive solutions.
  • Interactive simulations that allow teams to work together to solve problems or participate in non-invasive / non-intrusive tasks.
    • Class sizes remain small, however, the process is repeatable across multiple classes.
    • Concepts can be tested and developed without disrupting the “real world” processes.
    • Simulations are accelerated models representing real-world conditions.
    • Simulations can be conducted internally with limited resources and is easily duplicated.
    • Unlike the other methods above, the “solution” evolves with the team’s experience.
Of the methods presented above, I find that interactive simulations tend to be the most effective.  Lean Simulations, an increasingly popular website, has amassed a wealth of free lean games, videos, and other lean tools that make this a real possibility.
More specific to the purpose of our discussion here is a post titled “Seven Benefits of Teaching Lean with Simulations” that offers shared insights to the benefits of using Simulations to train and teach lean principles to our teams.
Having a method to explore new ideas and develop concepts is only one hurdle that needs to be addressed.  The next task is establishing the need for change itself and instilling the sense of urgency that is required to engage the team and accomplish the necessary improvements.
The Need For Improvement Drives Change

Change is synonymous with improvement and must be embraced by employees at all levels of the organization.  Change and improvements are also required to keep up with competitors and to avoid becoming obsolete.  From another perspective, it is a simple matter of continued sustainability and survival. In this context, we recognize that businesses today are confronted with uncompromising pressures from:

  • Customers expecting high quality products and services at competitive or reduced prices, and
  • Internal and external influences that are driving operating costs ever higher.  Some of these influences include increased taxes, rising utility costs such as electricity and fuel, increased wages and benefits, increased material costs, and volatile exchange rates.

An unfortunate and sad reality is that any realized cost savings or loss reductions are quickly absorbed by these ever-increasing costs of doing business.  As a result, many of the “savings” do not find their way to the bottom line as most of us have been conditioned to expect.  While many companies are quick to post “cost savings”, I am surprised at how few post the “cost increases” that negate or neutralize them.

Some manufacturers, such as automotive suppliers to the Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM’s), are expected to offer reduced prices year over year regardless of the current economic climate.  Unbelievably, “give backs” are expected for the full production life cycle of the vehicle and may even be extended to support service demand as well.  In today’s global economy, parts suppliers to the automotive OEM’s risk losing their business to competitors – especially those in low-cost labour countries – if attempts are made to increase prices.

My experience suggests that the best approach to establish a need for change is to work directly with the leadership and individual teams to understand and document the “current state” without bias or judgement. Our primary interest is to identify and assess “what is” and “what is not” working as supported by observations and objective evidence as gathered by the team.  To be very clear, this is not a desk audit. To understand what is really happening, an assessment can only be effective when it is conducted at the point of execution – the process itself.

We also need to understand the reasons why the current state exists as it does.  Is it the culture, system, processes, resources, resourcefulness,  training, methodologies, team dynamics, or some other internal or external influences? As a lean practitioner, I serve as a catalyst for change – helping leadership, teams, and individuals to see, learn, and appreciate for themselves what it means to be lean regarding culture, thinking, and best practices.

I believe that many lean initiatives fail for the simple reason that people have not been provided with a frame of reference or baseline (other than hearsay) that enables them to internalize what lean really means.

What’s Next?

The last thing we want to do is abandon current practices without having a sense of confidence that what we plan to do “in practice” will actually work. Secondly, we want to ensure that everyone understands the concept without jeopardizing current operations in the process.  As alluded to earlier, lean simulations allow us to do just that.

The main points of the article, “7 Benefits of Teaching Lean With Simulations“, as referenced earlier are summarized as follows:

  1. Simulations demonstrate lean principles in action,
  2. Games involve your audience,
  3. Games are perfect team building activities,
  4. Simulations are small and flexible,
  5. Games are confidence builders,
  6. Test real processes with simulations first,
  7. Give yourself a break.

Another benefit derived from simulations is that results are realized in a very short period of time due to the accelerated nature of the game.  As is often the case, real-time implementations may require days or even weeks before their effects are can be observed and felt within the organization.  Simulations can provide real world experiences without subjecting the company or the team to real world risks or consequences.

Finally, games allow participants to truly become involved in the process and present an opportunity to observe and assess team dynamics and individual strengths and weaknesses. A game is more than just an event. It is a memorable experience that involves all the senses, thinking processes, and emotions that engage the whole person.  To this extent the participants can and will internalize the concepts.  From this perspective, I say Game On …

Until Next Time – STAY lean!

Vergence Analytics
Twitter: @Versalytics
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Agility Through Problem Solving: a Model for Training and Thinking

We tend to use analogies when we are discussing certain topics, introducing new concepts, or simply presenting an abstract idea.  Analogies are intended to serve as a model that people understand, can relate to or identify with, and, more importantly, remember.  Our challenge is to identify a simple model that can be used to teach people to identify and solve problems – a core competency requirement for lean.

We have learned that teaching people to see problems is just as important as teaching them to solve problems.  Our education system taught us how to use the scientific method to solve problems that were already conveniently packaged in the form of a question or modeled in a case study.  Using case studies for teaching is typically more effective than traditional “information only” or “just the facts” methods.  (The government of Ontario is presently considering a complete overhaul of the education system using case studies as a core instruction method.)

The effectiveness of any training people receive is compromised by time – the retention span.  Our school systems are challenged by this at the start of every school year.  Teachers must re-engage students with materials covered in the last semester or topics covered prior to the break.  In business we may be too eager to provide training at a time when current business activities are not aligned for the new skills to be practiced or exercised.  A commitment to training also requires  a commitment to develop and routinely exercise these skills to stay sharp.

One of the fundamental rules of engagement for lean is to eliminate waste, where value added activities are optimized and non-value added activities are reduced or eliminated.  Although it may appear that we have identified the problem to be solved, in reality we have only framed the objective to be achieved.  We understand that the real solution to achieving this objective is by solving many other smaller problems.

The Sudoku Analogy – A Model for Finding and Solving Problems

A favourite past time is solving Sudoku puzzles, the seemingly simple 9 x 9 matrix of numbers just waiting for someone to enter the solution.  The reasons for selecting and recommending Sudoku as an introductory model for training are as follows:

  1. Familiarity:  Sudoku puzzles are published in all daily newspapers and numerous magazines and they have become as popular as cross-word puzzles.  Most people have either attempted to solve a puzzle or know someone who has.
  2. Rules of Engagement:  the rules of the game are simple.  Each standard Sudoku puzzle has 9 rows and 9 columns that form a grid of 81 squares.  This grid is further divided into nine 3 x 3 sub-sections.  The challenge is to enter the digits 1 through 9 into the blank spaces on the grid.  Every row, column, and 3 x 3 sub-section of the grid must contain one and only one of each digit.  We refer to these as “rules of engagement” as opposed to “framing the problem”.
  3. Degrees of Difficulty:   Sudoku puzzles are typically published in sets of 3 puzzles each having varying degrees or levels of difficulty.  Each level typically requires more time to complete and requires the player to use more complex reasoning or logic skills.  The claim is that all puzzles can be solved.
  4. Incremental or Progressive Solutions:  Sudoku solutions are achieved incrementally by solving instances of smaller problems.  In other words, the solution builds as correctly deduced numbers are added to the grid.  New “problems” are discovered as part of the search for the final solution.
  5. Variety:  every Sudoku game is different.  While some of the search and solve techniques may be similar, the problems and challenges presented by each game are uniquely different.  Although the rules of engagement are constant, the player must search for and find the first problem to be solved.
  6. Single Solution:  a multiple number of solutions may appear to satisfy the rules of the game, however, only one solution exists.  Learning to solve Sudoku puzzles may be a challenge for some players, however, even seasoned Sudoku players can be stumped by some of the more advanced level puzzles.  To this end, they are ever and always challenging.
  7. Skill Level:  Sudoku puzzles do not require any math skills.  Numbers are naturally easier to remember and universal.  Letters are language dependent and the game would lose international appeal.
  8. Logical:  deductive reasoning is used to determine potential solutions for each empty square in the grid.  As the game is played, a player may identify a number of potential solutions for a single square.  These final solution will eventually be resolved as the game is played.

In practice

We recommend introducing the team to Sudoku using an example to demonstrate how the game is played.  It is best to discuss some of the strategies that can be used to find solutions that eventually lead to solving the complete puzzle.  The Sudoku model will allow you to demonstrate the following ten objectives:

  1. Look for Options:  The solution for the problem to be solved may consist many other smaller problems of varying degrees of difficulty.
  2. Break down the problem:  There may be more than one problem that needs to be solved.  Every Sudoku puzzle represents many different problem instances that need to be resolved before arriving at the final solution.  Each incremental solution to a problem instance is used to discover new problems to solve that also become part of the overall solution.  This may also be termed as progressive problem solving.
  3. Multiple solutions – One Ideal:  There may be times where more than one solution seems possible.  Continue to solve other problems on the grid that will eventually reveal the ideal single solution.
  4. Prioritizing:  more than one problem instance may be solvable at the same time, however, you can only focus on one at a time.
  5. Focus:  Problem solving involves varying states of focus:
    • Divergence:  Expand the focus and perform a top-level search for a problem from the many to be solved
    • Convergence:  Narrow the focus on the specific problem instance and determine the specific solution.
  6. Test and Validate:  Every problem instance that is solved is immediately verified or validated against the other squares on the grid.  In other words the solution must comply with the rules of engagement.
  7. Incubation:  some puzzles can be quite difficult to solve.  Sometimes you need to take a break and return later with a fresh eyes approach.
  8. Action:  There is no defined or “correct” starting point.  The first problem instance to be resolved will be as unique as the number of players participating.  No matter where you start, the finished solution will be exactly the same.
  9. Tangents:  when entering a solution into a square, you may notice other potential problems or solutions that suddenly seemed to appear.  It is very easy to digress from the original problem / solution.  This is also true in the real world where “side projects” somehow appear to be the main focus.
  10. Method:  There is no pre-defined method or approach to determine what problem to solve first.  The only guiding principles for discovering the problem instance to be solved are the rules of engagement.

Lean companies train their teams to see problems and break them down into smaller problems with solvable steps.  Sudoku demonstrates the process of incremental or progressive problem solving.  Even with this technique it is possible to enjoy major break through events.  There are times when even seasoned Sudoku players will recognize the “break through point” when solving a puzzle.

Solve time is another element of the Sudoku puzzle that may be used to add another level of complexity to the problem solving process.  Our objective was not to create a competitive environment or to single out any individual skill levels whether good or bad.  Lean is a TEAM sport.

In Summary:

Sudoku solvers are able to hone their skills every day.  Perhaps Sudoku Masters even exist.  Imagine someone coming to work with the same simple focus to eliminate waste every day.  Although there is no preset solution, we are able to identify and consider any number of potential problems and solve them as quickly as we can.  The smaller problems solved are a critical part of the overall solution to achieve the goal.

Most professional athletes and musicians understand that skills are developed through consistent practice and exercise.  Repetition develops technique and speed.  Imagine a culture where discovering new opportunities or problems and implementing solutions  is just a normal part of the average working day.  This is one of the defining traits that characterize high velocity companies around the world.

Truly agile companies are experts at seeing and solving problems quickly.  They discover new opportunities in every day events that in turn become opportunities to exercise their problem seeing and solving skills.  Crisis situations are circumvented early and disruptions are managed with relative ease – all in a days work. 

The next time you see a Sudoku puzzle you may:

  • be inclined to pick up a pencil and play or
  • be reminded of the time you were inspired by the game to solve problems and reach new goals or
  • simply reflect on this post and ponder your next break through.

Until Next Time – STAY Lean!

Contingency Plans – Crisis Management in Lean Organizations

Contingency Planning For Lean Organizations – Part IV – Crisis Management

In a previous post we eluded that lean organizations are likely to be more susceptible to disruptions or adverse conditions and may even have a greater impact on the business.  To some degree this may be true, however, in reality, Lean has positioned these organizations to be more agile and extremely responsive to crisis situations to mitigate losses.

True lean organizations have learned to manage change as normal course of operation.  A crisis only presents a disruption of larger scale.  Chapter 10 of Steven J. Spear’s book, “Chasing the Rabbit”, exemplifies how high velocity, or lean, organizations have managed to overcome significant crisis situations that would typically cripple most organizations.

Problem solving is intrinsic at all levels of a lean organization and, in the case of Toyota, problem solving skills extend beyond the walls of the organization itself.  It is clear that an infrastructure of people having well developed problem solving skills is a key component to managing the unexpected.    The events presented in this chapter demonstrate the agility that is present in a lean organization, namely Toyota in this case and it’s supplier base.

Training is a Contingency

Toyota has clearly been the leader in Lean manufacturing and even more so in developing problem solving skills at all levels of the organization company-wide.  The primary reason for this is the investment that Toyota puts into the development of people and their problem solving skills at the onset of their employment with the company.  The ability to see problems, correct them in real time, and share the results (company-wide) is a testament to the system and it’s effectiveness has been proven on many occassions.

Prevention, preparation, and training (which is also a form of prevention) are as much an integral part of  contingency planning as are the actual steps that must be executed when a crisis situation occurs.  Toyota has developed a rapid response reflex that is inherent in the organization’s infrastructure to rapidly regain it’s capabilities when a crisis strikes.

Crisis Culture

We highly recommend reading Steven J. Spear’s “Chasing the Rabbit” to learn and appreciate the four capabilities that distinguish “High Velocity” organizations.  The key to lean is creating a cultural climate that is driven by the relentless pursuit of improvement and elimination of waste.  Learning to recognize waste and correcting the condition as it occurs requires keen observation and sharp problem solving skills.

Creating a culture of this nature is an evolutionary process – not revolutionary.  In many ways the simplicity of the four capabilities is it’s greatest ally.  Instilling these principles and capabilities into the organization demands time and effort, but the results are well worth it.  Lean was not intended to be complex and the principles demonstrated and exemplified in Chasing the Rabbit confirm this to be true.  This is not to be construed as saying that the challenges are easy … but with the right team they are certainly easier.

Until Next Time – STAY Lean!

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Lean Contingency Planning For Lean Operations – IT and the BSOD

Coincidentally, we are having a first hand experience with the Blue Screen of Death or BSOD with one of our laptops today.  The completely unexpected critical system error that renders Windows completely helpless.  If this isn’t on your list of IT concerns, it should be.

In our case the error appears to be video related – driver or card.  Most IT specialists know how to deal with these types of errors but for the average user, the message that appears is enough to make you sweat.  If the system can’t fix the error, you may very well end up staring at a Black Screen – just as we are.

How is it that we were still able to produce this POST?  Well, we are currently executing our contingency plan and using another system that is operated independently.  Most companies back up their data to prevent or minimize loss.  Another concern that is often overlooked is accessibility to that back up data in the event the system goes down.

What have we learned?

We are not the first to experience this problem.  We did a Google search using some brief terms such as “Computer Black Screen”, “Laptop Black Screen”, and we even Googled parts of the error message that appeared on the screen.  The result?  Thousands of people have experienced this same error.

The point of this post is to demonstrate that you do not have to re-invent the wheel to determine potential solutions or to discover problems that may occur.  Quite likely, they may already have happened and solutions are already developed and available.

There are two probable solutions to our video issue:

  1. Update the video device driver (Free)
  2. Replace the video card (Cost $)

Hopefully, the first solution is the answer to our problem.  Video cards are not sitting on our shelf and the downtime may be extended if we can’t find something locally.

It is noteworthy that we have not yet identified the root cause of this failure.  We haven’t loaded any new software or experienced problems in recent history.  This may be the topic for a future problem solving post.

Regardless of the outcome of our present dilemma, we have learned that it is a good idea to keep device drivers up to date.  As a planned activity, this may prevent some of you from having to experience the BSOD as we have today.

The loss incurred for this event is more than just the cost to repair.  This computer may be down for a few days.  How much is the down time worth?  Unless we play out the scenarios that may threaten or pose a risk to our business, we may never have the opportunity to prepare for the event until it actually happens.

Keep an open mind and use the resources available to you to help solve the problem.  In some cases a simple Google search could confirm your concern in a matter of seconds.

Until Next Time – STAY Lean!

Going DEEP with OEE

Does anyone actually look at their daily equipment availability? Instead of using TEEP that is typically based on calendarized availability, looking at the Daily Equipment Effectiveness Performance of your operation may provide some interesting insights.

Working overtime due to material or equipment availability occurs many times.  Unfortunately, we find that sometimes these very same machines are idle during the week.

A detailed explanation for calculating DEEP can be found in one of our earlier posts, “OEE, Downtime, and TEEP.”  Understanding machine utilization patterns may provide greater insight into the actual versus planned operating pattern of your process.

Just something to invoke some thoughts for your operation and to perhaps identify another opportunity to improve performance.

FREE Downloads

We are currently offering our Excel OEE Spreadsheet Templates and example files at no charge.  You can download our files from the ORANGE BOX on the sidebar titled “FREE DOWNLOADS” or click on the FREE Downloads Page.  These files can be used as is and can be easily modified to suit many different manufacturing processes.  There are no hidden files, formulas, or macros and no obligations for the services provided here.

Please forward your questions, comments, or suggestions to LeanExecution@gmail.com.  To request our services for a specific project, please send your inquiries to Vergence.Consulting@gmail.com.

We welcome your feedback and thank you for visiting.

Until Next Time – STAY Lean!

Availability and OEE

What is Availability?

In its simplest form, availability measures the uptime of a machine or process against the planned production time.  As one of the factors of Overall Equipment Efficiency (OEE), Availability is expressed as a percentage.  The uptime is calculated by taking the difference between the planned production time and total duration of the downtime events that occurred during the planned production period.

We specifically address the “Availability” factor in this post for the simple reason that the definition of availability is likely to be one of the most debated and hotly contested topics of your OEE implementation strategy.  The reason for this, in many cases, is the lack of clarity in some of the most basic terminology.  The purpose of this discussion is to present some topics for consideration that will allow you to arrive at a clear definition that can perhaps be formed into a standard policy statement.

We will also demonstrate that it is possible to calculate the downtime by simply knowing the cycle time or process rate, the quantity of parts produced, and the planned production time.  We recommend using this technique to validate or reconcile the actual documented downtime.  We would argue that the first and foremost purpose of any machine monitoring or downtime event measurement system is to determine the “WHY and WHAT” of the downtime events and secondly to record the “When and How Long”.

You will learn that monitoring your processes to determine causes and duration of downtime events  is key to developing effective action plans to improve availability.  The objective of any machine automation, sensor strategy, or data collection and analysis is to determine methods and actions that will improve the availability of the equipment through permanent corrective actions, implementing more effective trouble shooting strategies (sensor technologies), improved core process controls, or more effective preventive maintenance.

Define the purpose of OEE

While it looks like we’re taking a step back from the topic of discussion, bear with us for just a paragraph or two.  A clear statement of purpose is the best place to start before executing your OEE implementation strategy:

To identify opportunities to improve the effectiveness of the company’s assets.

You will quickly realize that, when attempting to define the measurement criteria for the OEE factors, in particular Availability, your team may present rationale to exclude certain elements from the measurement process.  These rationalizations are typically predicated on existing policy or perceived constraints that simply cannot be changed.  People or teams do not want to be penalized for items that are “out of their control” or bound by current policy.  Continuous improvement is impeded by attempts to rationalize poor performance.

We understand that some of these “exclusions” present a greater challenge, however, we do not agree with the premise that they cannot be improved.  Again, it is a matter of “purpose”.  Limiting the scope of measurement will limit the scope of improvement.  Now it’s time to explore what could be the foundation for a sound definition of availability.

Availability Considerations

It may seem reasonable to assume that, at a minimum, the only planned down time events that should be excluded from the availability factor are  planned preventive maintenance activities, mandatory break periods, and scheduled “down” time due to lack of work.  We would argue and agree that the only justification for an idle machine is “Lack of Work”.

What would be the reason to settle for anything less?  If Preventive Maintenance is critical to sustaining the performance of your process, doesn’t it make sense to consider it in the measurement process?  The rationale that typically follows is that Preventive Maintenance must be done and it’s really out of our control – it is a planned event.  We would argue that the time to complete Preventive Maintenance can be improved.

Is it possible that the Mean Time Before Failure or Required Maintenance can be extended?  Is it possible to improve materials, components, or lubricants that could extend the process up time?  Is it possible to improve the time it actually takes to perform the required maintenance?  If so, what is the measure that will be used to show that additional capacity is available for production.

If set up times for die changes or tool changes can be improved from hours to minutes, could the same effort and devotion to improve Preventive Maintenance techniques yield similar results?  We think so.

One example is the use of synthetic oils and lubricants that have been proven to significantly extend the life of tools and components and also reduces the number changes required over the service life of the machine.  Quick change features that can assist with easy and ready access to service points on tooling and machines can also be implemented to reduce preventive maintenance times.

The other exclusion that is often argued is break times.  Labour laws require you to provide break times for your employees.  However, since automated processes are not subject to “Labour Laws”, the “mandatory break times” do not apply.  We would argue that methods should be pursued to reduce the need for human intervention and look for ways to keep the machine running.  Is it possible to automate some of the current processes or rotate people to keep the machine running?

Aside from this more obvious example, consider other organizational policies that may impact how your organization runs:

  1. Shift start-up meetings
  2. Employee Communication Meetings
  3. End of Shift clean up periods
  4. Quality first off approval process
  5. Shift first off versus Run first off
  6. Weld Tip changes – PM or Process Driven

 What is the purpose of the shift start-up meeting?  What is the purpose of the monthly employee communication meeting?  Could this information be conveyed in a different form?  What length of time is really required to convey the message to be shared?  Is the duration of the meeting actually measured or do you resort to the standard time allotted?

Clean up periods at the end of the shift  are also a common practice in many plants.  What is being cleaned up?  Why?  Is it possible to maintain an orderly workplace during the shift – clean up as it happens in real-time?  Again, do you record the actual clean up time or do you just enter the default clean up time allotted?

How much time is lost to verify the integrity of the product before allowing production to commence?  What process parameters or factors would jeopardize the quality of the product being produced?  No one wants to make scrap or substandard components, however, the challenge remains to determine what factors influence the level of quality.  If it is possible to determine what factors are critical to success in advance, then perhaps the quality verification process becomes a concurrent event.

Measuring Downtime.

 There are other factors that can impact availability including, but certainly not limited to, personnel (illness, inclement weather), material availability, other linked processes (feeder / customer), material changes, tool changes, quality concerns, and unexpected process, equipment, or machine faults.

It is possible to use manual or automated systems to collect various machine or process codes to record or document the duration and type of downtime event.  We recommend and support the use of automated data collection systems, however, they should be implemented in moderation.  One of the primary impediments to success is overwhelming volumes of data that no one has the time to analyze.

The Goal = 100% Up Time = ZERO Down Time = Zero Lost Time = Zero Defects = 100% Availability

The goal is to use the data and tools available to either permanently resolve the problem by implementing an effective corrective action or to assist the trouble shooting process by identifying the failure mode and to minimize the duration of the downtime event.

We have witnessed data collection strategies where an incredible number of sensors were installed to “catch” problems as they occur.  The reality was the sensors themselves became the greater cause of downtime due to wear or premature failure due to improper sensor selection for the application.  Be careful and choose wisely.

When used correctly, automation can be a very effective tool to capture downtime events and maintain the integrity of the overall measurement process.  With the right tools, trouble shooting your process will minimize the duration of the down time event.  Monitoring the frequency of these events will also allow you to focus your attention on real opportunities and circumvent nuisance faults.

The objective of collecting the “downtime event” history is to determine what opportunities are available to improve uptime.

Duration versus Frequency

The frequency of a downtime event is often overlooked as most of the attention is devoted to high duration downtime events.  Some sources suggest that short duration downtime events (perhaps as little as 30 seconds) are not worth measuring.  These undocumented losses are reflected, or more accurately hidden, by a corresponding reduction in the performance factor.

Be careful when setting what appears to be simple policy to document downtime.  A 20 second downtime event that occurs 4 times per hour could quickly turn into 10 minutes a shift, 30 minutes a day, 2.5 hours a week, 125 hours a year.  Rather than recording every event in detail, we recommend implementing a simple “tick” sheet to gain an appreciation for the frequency of failures.  Any repetitive events can be studies and reviewed for corrective action.

Verify the Downtime

One of the advantages of OEE is that it is possible to reconcile the total time – OEE should never be greater than 100%.  Of course this statement requires that the standard cycle time is correct and the total quantity of parts produced is accurate.  So, although all of the downtime events may not be recorded, it is very easy to determine how much downtime occurred.  This will help to determine how effectively downtime data is being recorded.

A perfect example to demonstrate this comes from the metal stamping industry.  Progressive dies are used to produce steel parts from coil steel.  The presses typically run at a fixed “predetermined” optimum run rate.  Depending on the type of part and press, progressive dies are capable running at speeds from as low as 10 strokes per minute up to speeds over 300 strokes per minute.

For ease of calculation, assume we have a press that was scheduled to run a part over an 8 hour shift having two 10 minute breaks.  The standard shift hours are 6:45 am – 3:15 pm and 3:30 pm – 12:00 am.  The company provides a 30 minute unpaid meal break after 4 hours of work.  The optimum press speed to run the part is 20 strokes per minute (spm).  If a total of 6200 parts were made – how much downtime was incurred at the press?

To determine the press time required (also known as earned time), we simply divide the quantity of parts produced by the press rate as follows:

Machine Uptime:  6200 / 20 = 310 minutes

Our planned production time was 8 hours or 480 minutes.  Assuming that company policy excludes break times, the net available time to run the press is 480 – (2 x 10) = 460 minutes.

Calculated downtime = Available – Earned = 460 – 310 =150 minutes

Availability = Earned Time / Net Available Time = 310 / 460 = 67.39%

We can see from the above example that it easy to determine what the downtime should have been and, in turn, we could calculate the availability factor.  This calculation is based on the assumption that the machine is running at the stated rate.

The Availability TWIST (1):

Knowing that press and die protection technologies exist to allow presses to run in full automatic mode, the two break periods from our example above do not apply to the equipment, unless company policy states that all machines or processes must cease operations during break periods.

Assuming that this is not the case, the press is available for the entire shift of 480 minutes.  Therefore, the availability calculations from above would be:

Calculated downtime = Available – Earned = 480 – 310 =170 minutes

Availability = Earned Time / Net Available Time = 310 / 480 = 64.58%

The Availability TWIST (2):

Just to expand on this concept just a little further.  We also indicated that the company provided an unpaid lunch period of 30 minutes.  Since meal breaks don’t apply to presses, the reality is that the press was also available to run during this period of time.  The recalculated downtime and availability are:

Calculated downtime = Available – Earned = (480 + 30) – 310 =200 minutes

Availability = Earned Time / Net Available Time = 310 / 510 = 60.78%

The Availability TWIST (3):

Finally, one last twist (we could go on).  We deliberately indicated that there was a 15 minute break between shifts.  Again, is there a reason for this?  Does the machine have to stop?  Why?

Availability – NEXT Steps

As you begin to look at your operations and policies, start by asking WHY do we do this or that?  The example provided above indicates that a significant delta can exist in availability (close to 7%) although the number of parts produced has not changed.  The differing results are related to policy, operating standard, or both.

If the performance (cycle time or production rate) and total quantity of parts produced data have integrity, the availability factor can be reconciled to determine the integrity of the downtime “data collection” system.  From this example it should also be clear that the task of the data collection system is to capture the downtime history as accurately as possible to determine the opportunities to improve availability NOT just to determine how much downtime occurred.

This example also demonstrates why effective problem solving skills are critical to the success of your lean implementation strategy and is also one of the reasons why programs such as six sigma and lean have become integrated as parallel components of many lean execution strategies.

The Goal:  100% uptime / Zero downtime / Zero lost time /100% availability

Regardless of the measurement baseline used, be consistent.  Exclusions are not the issue, it is a matter of understanding what is involved in the measurement process.  For example, maintenance activities performed during break periods may be a good management practice to improve labour efficiencies, however, the fact that the work was performed during a break period should not exclude it from the “downtime” event history.  We would argue that all activities requiring “equipment time” or “process time” should be recorded.

FREE Downloads

We are currently offering our Excel OEE Spreadsheet Templates and example files at no charge.  You can download our files from the ORANGE BOX on the sidebar titled “FREE DOWNLOADS” or click on the FREE Downloads Page.  These files can be used as is and can be easily modified to suit many different manufacturing processes.  There are no hidden files, formulas, or macros and no obligations for the services provided here.

Please forward your questions, comments, or suggestions to LeanExecution@gmail.com.  To request our services for a specific project, please send your inquiries to Vergence.Consulting@gmail.com.

We welcome your feedback and thank you for visiting.

Until Next Time – STAY Lean!

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OEE for Multiple Parts – Single Machine (Multipart Processes)

How to Calculate OEE for Single Machine and Multiple Parts.

Flexible manufacturing provides the advantage of producing many different parts on the same piece of equipment.  The same is true for processes such as stamping presses, molding machines, or machining operations.

The first question most often asked is, “How do we calculate OEE for a piece of equipment that is capable of manufacturing multiple parts?”  The overall OEE for a stamping press, molding machine, machining process, or other “multipart” process is easily calculated using the same formulas presented in our previous posts “How to Calculate OEE” and “Practical OEE“.

We presented three machines running at various rates and producing unique products.  We demonstrated how to calculate the OEE for each part individually and for all parts collectively.  The machines A, B, and C could very easily be parts A, B, and C running on one machine.  The application of the OEE formulas presented for these three machines is the same for multiple parts running on the same machine.

We have prepared two Excel spreadsheets that demonstrate how to calculate OEE for a single machine that produces multiple parts.  We have also created a separate Excel spreadsheet that will show you how to calculate OEE for Multiple Departments and Multiple Machines running Multiple Parts.

Calculating OEE for any period of time, department, or group of equipment is a simple task.  With the understanding that OEE measures how effectively Net Available Time is used to produce good parts at the ideal rate, the formula for any OEE calculation follows:

OEE (Any Category) = Total SUM of IDEAL Time / Total SUM of NET Available Time

Once this basic premise for OEE calculations is clearly understood, any combination of OEE summaries can be prepared including OEE summaries by Shift, Operator, Manager, Division, Process, and Process Type.

FREE Downloads 

We are currently offering our Excel OEE Spreadsheet Templates and example files at no charge.  You can download our files from the ORANGE BOX on the sidebar titled “FREE DOWNLOADS” or click on the FREE Downloads Page.  These files can be used as is and can be easily modified to suit many different manufacturing processes.  There are no hidden files, formulas, or macros and no obligations for the services provided here.

Multipart OEE – Confronting the Challenges

Most manufacturing environments are challenged with the task of minimizing inventories requiring more frequent change-overs or setups.  By far, the greatest challenge of multipart equipment is managing the change-over process and is usually reflected in the OEE Availability factor.

We recommend including setup or change-over time as part of the unplanned downtime calculation.  Then, by definition, one method to improve Availability is to reduce change-over or setup time.  Reductions in change-over time will also be reflected by improved Availability.  The Availability factor is now a useful metric for tracking improvements.

According to our definition, change-over time or setup time is measured from the end of the current production run (“the last good part made”) to the start of the next production run (“first good part produced”).  We have worked with some manufacturers that decided to do change-overs on the off shift so that they could avoid the down time penalty.  They clearly didn’t get the point – deferring the time when the change-over is performed doesn’t change the time required to perform it.

Several programs such as SMED (single minute exchange of dies) are available and, when coupled with best practices for quick die change (QDC) or quick tool change techniques, can greatly reduce the time lost during your tool change events.

We will consider posting best practices for SMED or QDC and would welcome any reader comments in this area.

We always welcome your feedback and comments.  Feel free to send us your questions or comments to leanexecution@gmail.com

Until Next Time – STAY Lean!

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