Tag: Total Equipment Effectiveness Performance

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How to Improve OEE – Any Questions?

Ask any Quality or Engineering manager and they will tell you that measurement systems are valuable tools to identify problems and opportunities.  The measurement system itself is not the answer – it is the data source, the EVIDENCE that drives the questions.  It is a part of the discovery and validation process to confirm the opportunity or problem and the effectiveness of the solutions to resolve it.

A well integrated OEE system should provide the data to answer the questions on everyone’s mind, “What do we need to do to improve?” or “Why aren’t we improving?”  The simple answer is, “We need to fix it.”  Of course the real question may not be, “What do we need to fix?” but, “Why did it break?”

Yes, we will likely have to replace the part(s) that failed to get the line back up and running, but what really caused the failure to occur?  What was the real root cause?  This introductory post to problem solving and root cause analysis will kick start some of the techniques used to solve problems effectively.

The Problem Statement:

The key to effective problem solving starts with identifying the problem to be solved.  This is typically a brief statement describing the problem.  For external concerns, the problem is usually stated in customer terms.

This post presents some simple examples of problems to be solved.  You will quickly discover that defining the problem may not be as simple as it looks.  We will discuss this in more depth in our future posts.

Root Cause Analysis

Identifying the real root cause(s) for the failure is the secret to successful problem solving.  The method you use to arrive at the root cause should allow you to confirm and validate your solution before taking action.  Here is an important point to remember:

Do not confuse symptoms with root causes.  

For example, you are driving down the road and suddenly find yourself struggling to maintain control of your vehicle.  Your expert driving skills allow you to pull over and stop on the side of the road.  You get out of the car and walk around to discover that you have a flat tire.  The flat tire is a symptom – not the root cause.

As luck would have it, a police officer who just happened to be following you in an unmarked car, notices your sudden erratic driving behavior and charges you with recklessness and careless driving.  Since none of the tires on the police car are flat, the officer presumes the condition of your vehicle is the direct result of your poor driving skills and bad habits after many years on the road.  Another point to remember:

Do not jump to conclusions

You, like many people, would argue that your many years of driving provided you with the experience necessary to avert danger.  The officer quickly recognizes that your many years of experience have caused you to lose perspective of the potential hazards of driving.  The officer advises that your driving record shows no record of any tickets or accidents and clearly suggests that you have had very few “experiences” with the law and minimal exposure to poor road conditions.

The officer proceeds to charge you, the operator, because you simply weren’t paying attention to the conditions and potential hazards of the road.  You are given a ticket to serve as a reminder to pay more attention to the road and to be mindful of your driving habits in the future.  Then to add insult to injury, the officer advises you to fix your tire and drive carefully. 

Unforgiving of the circumstances and since quota’s have to be met, the charges stand and you find yourself on your way to court.  As you sit in your vehicle, stunned that you just got a ticket for getting a flat tire, you are conflicted and fuming because the officer blamed you, your poor driving skills, and your bad habits for driving recklessly down the road!  The following tip will help you remember:

Operator Error is not a Root Cause

Many times, management is too quick to attribute the root cause to operator error.

5 WHY Analysis

One of the best methods for identifying the real root cause is the 5-Why approach.  The concept of asking the question “WHY?” five times is quite simple.  In practice though, you will find it may not be that easy.  Why?  Because the wrong answer will lead you through a continuing series of wrong answers that ultimately lead to the wrong conclusion.

There is always more than one answer – Which one is correct?

Referring back to our example of the flat tire, you now need an argument to absolve yourself of any blame for the incident on the highway.  In court, the judge asks, “How you plead to the charges before you?”  You answer, “Not Guilty your honor.”

  1. Why?  While I was driving down the road, I got a flat tire.
  2. Why?  Because all the air ran out of my tire.
  3. Why?  Because there was a hole in it.
  4. Why?  Because the tire didn’t have anti-puncture technology.
  5. Why?  Because the manufacturer didn’t design it properly.

Were it not for my expert driving skills, this situation could have been much worse.  As it was, using my superior driving skills, I successfully managed to maneuver my vehicle, without incident, to the side of the road, averting what could have been a disastrous crash.  Therefore, I request to be completely absolved of any and all wrongful doing and I am filing a class action suit against the tire manufacturer to cover court costs, lost wages, and damages as well as my emotional stress.

Clearly not satisfied, the judge requests you to take a 10 minute break to rethink your case.  On your return to the courtroom, you are prepared to present the following argument:

  1. Why?  While I was driving down the road, I got a flat tire.
  2. Why?  Because all the air ran out of my tire.
  3. Why?  Because there was a hole in it.
  4. Why?  Because there was a nail on the road.
  5. Why?  Because the government refuses to keep the highways clean.

Were it not for my expert driving skills, this situation could have been much worse.  As it was, using my superior driving skills, I successfully managed to maneuver my vehicle, without incident, to the side of the road, averting what could have been a disastrous crash.  Therefore, I am filing a class action suit against the government to cover for court costs, lost wages, and damages as well as my emotional stress.  To resolve this matter quickly, I request that all charges be dropped and I in turn will drop my counter-claim.

The purpose of the above example was to demonstrate how the answer to the question – WHY? – can lead to completely different conclusions.  On one hand we’re ready to sue the tire manufacturer and on the other, we’re ready to take on the government.  If there was indeed a nail on the road, how did it get there?

Don’t Assign Blame

Solving problems and getting to the root cause is not about assigning blame to someone or something.  You can’t blame the government or the tire company for the fact that there was a nail on the road.  It is to easy to assign blame and it happens everywhere, everyday.  Perhaps the nail manufacturer should be sued as well for failing to provide adequate protections should the nail become lost or misplaced.

The question that wasn’t asked is, “Why was the nail on the road?”  The answer may be that it likely fell out of a board or from a truck or trailer that may have been carrying construction materials.  Again, being careful with the answer, we don’t want to come to the conclusion that nails should be banned completely.

On the other hand, it may be worthwhile to advise that all companies and contractors must make a reasonable effort and take appropriate precautions and measures to ensure that all loads are secure and free from loose raw materials.  Any nails must be placed in a sealed container and secured to the vehicle for the purpose of transport.  A maximum fine of $2,000.00 may be imposed and made payable to the “Operator Error Trust Fund.”

Leading the Witness:  The solution BIAS

STOP! – if you think you already know the answer – Stop!  We know that the right question doesn’t always lead to the right answer as we attempted to show in our example.  Another major pitfall is thinking we already have the answer and we just need to frame the questions and answers to support that conclusion.  This isn’t problem solving, this is creative story telling.  Don’t lead your team into following what “appears” to be a logical conclusion – be prepared to prove it.

Don’t Assume Anything – Follow the EVIDENCE

At a minimum, follow the evidence.  What is the data telling you?  It’s time to start thinking like a crime scene investigator (CSI) or good lawyer.  Asking questions and continuing to probe for answers is the secret to uncovering the less obvious and, more than likely, real solution.

Many OEE equipment / software integrators provide the ability to record and track downtime events in real time.  This data is extremely valuable for trouble shooting and problem solving; however, they are not necessarily root causes.  The integrators provide the capability to readily identify what part of the process failed or what is broken.  While this may be the cause of the line down condition, it is not the root cause of the problem.

Do not confuse the Point of Failure (Source) with the Root Cause

Don’t fall into this trap:

  • Supervisor:  “The OEE system report showed that we lost two hours on the paint line last night.”
  • Maintenance:  “Yeah, I saw the report too.  This OEE system tracks everything!”
  • Supervisor:  “Why did the line go down?”
  • Maintenance:  “The A-Tank feed pump overheated.  The OEE system told us exactly which pump failed.  It saved us a ton of time.”
  • Supervisor:  “What did you do?”
  • Maintenance:  “Oh, we replaced it.  The line is running fine now.”
  • Supervisor:  “OK, that’s good.  Thanks.”

End of conversation.

So, WHY did the pump overheat?  Some questions just never get asked, but I’m sure the OEE will be just fine on the next shift.  We recognize that most effective TPM managers are sharper than this.  Our point is that not everyone is looking at the data from the same perspective.

We’ll discuss “How to Improve OEE” in more detail in our next post:  “How to use the 5 Why Approach.”

Until Next Time – STAY lean!

Upcoming OEE Topics – February 2009

The following topics will be featured in an upcoming post, we’ll try to squeeze them in before February 2009 rolls off the calendar.  If you have a topic that you would like to see featured on our site, send an e-mail to LeanExecution@gmail.com.

Capacity Planning with OEE:  By definition, it only makes sense to use OEE as an integral part of your capacity planning process.  We will cover the details to do this effectively.  Effective capacity planning naturally extends to improved resource management and effective production planning.

OEE, Value Streams, and COST:  Although some managers may rise to the challenge and volunteer, many are either assigned or designated to be project champions.  In many cases, unfortunately, the scope of the project is extremely limited or restricted and project managers simply become “metric managers”.  Who is in charge of OEE?  The answer is quite simple:  EVERYONE.  OEE is a multi-discipline metric and, like other sound lean strategies, requires seamless interaction among managers and departments.

OEE cannot and should not be managed as an independent metric.  Having said that, don’t get caught in the trap of “stand alone” OEE reviews.  While there may be a number of strategies for improving OEE, such as constrained capacity, we will present a model that explicitly ties operational costs to your processes.  When OEE data is sensitised by cost data, a completely different strategy for improvement will emerge.  If the ultimate goal is to improve your bottom line, then our Cost sensitisation model will bring the concept of OEE and your bottom line to a whole new level.

OEE and Lean Agility:  Can OEE be a leading indicator of your ability to respond to change?  Well we think so and happen to have a few ideas that will show you how and why.

Send us your questions or comments or simply suggest a topic for a future post or article.

Stay tuned for more!  We appreciate your feedback.

OEE and Morale

Is employee morale impacting your OEE?  If so, how much of a concern is it?  As we wrote in one of our recent posts,  “Perhaps the greatest “external” influence on current manufacturing operations is the rapid collapse of the automotive industry in the midst of our current economic “melt down”.  The changes in operating strategy to respond to this new crisis are bound to have an effect on OEE among other business metrics.”  We would argue that these times of economic crisis demand, now more than ever, that Lean Practices must become even more prevalent in our manufacturing operations.

People are concerned about the state and stability of the company’s finances and the industries they serve.  The automotive industry has been devastated by the recent decline, or more accurately, collapse of the market.  Significant changes in operating strategy including lay offs and reduced production days have impacted all of the OEM’s including Ford, GM, Chrysler, Toyota, and Honda.  No one company is immune from the effects of the current economic conditions.

It is clear that the auto industry fell behind the “power curve” and crashed.  Did conditions change too quickly to avoid the inevitable?  Was it so big that, like the Titanic, the ultimate demise could be predicted but not avoided?  Toyota was the number one producer of automobiles in 2008 but failed to yield significant profits.  Conditions such as these were ripe for continued growth in years past.  It is clear that even the best of the Lean practitioners are not immune from the effects of the current economy.

A company’s agility will certainly be tested during times such as these.  Sustainability and viability are among the few significant objectives of Lean dynamics.  As such, Lean dynamics should be at the forefront of every business leader.  How adaptable is your business?  Are you reinventing your business in response to the changes of your industry?  The true Lean practitioner is certainly challenged to eliminate waste and variation beyond current means and traditional approaches.  As change is constant, we must continually seek out ways to redefine or “better” define our businesses.

At the most fundamental level, everyone is concerned about the state of the economy, however, individuals, at the personal level, are concerned about their jobs and careers.  We all want to preserve our current life style to some degree and, at a minimum, continue to pay our bills.  It would be a difficult task to estimate the lost productivity that occurs when someone’s state of mind is focused on their own personal situation versus that of the company.  We have observed first hand how employee morale has diminished as a result of the recent economic doom and gloom.  Nothing can come between an indivual and their prosperity – this is an instinctive, almost primitive, response mechanism – a self defense position.

Recommendations:

While you may not be able to change the economy, we would suggest that you can influence the “morale” of your employees.  People will understand that you didn’t cause the current economic crisis, however, they do expect that you will let them know what the impact is to your business and ultimately to themselves.

Be honest with your employees, let them know where you stand – where they stand.  They need to prepare for their futures too, whether it is working for you or someone else.  During times of crisis such as this, it is time for the executive leadership to stand behind their Vision and Mission statements and treat their employees – THE PEOPLE -the most important assets a company can have – with the dignity and respect they not only deserve but worked so hard to earn.  Be present and available to your team.

Our employees recognize that we only attract, retain, and hire the best employees.  Regardless of the economy, the standard remains and we take great pride in the strength of our people.  They know this intrinsically.

People come to companies to work for PEOPLE.  Their immediate supervisor or manager is, in their eyes, the company.  Arm your staff with the information they need so people can make informed decisions.  Believe it or not, people are motivated when they feel that they are part of the process and not regarded as part of the problem.  Reality check:  “People come to companies to work for themselves.”  How does this statement change your perspective?  Who do you work for?

How many times have you heard, “Our labour is just too high,  we need to cut back.”  Well, who made the decision to hire the people in the first place?  Look in the mirror.  Treat people like they are part of the team, part of the solution.  Get them engaged and focused on moving forward.  Will they be motivated?  They will be if they feel that they are valued players on the team, performing meaningful work that is contributing to the success of the company.  Times of crisis tend to bring teams closer together and, in the end, they become stronger for the cause.

A great business parable written by Patrick Lencioni, “The Three Signs of a Miserable Job”, may provide some useful insights to motivate your team and even grow your business into a more profitable venture despite the current economic crisis.

While people think they work for a company or other people, we ultimately believe that people work for themselves and we, as a company, are the beneficiaries of their efforts.

Conclusion

So how does all of this tie to OEE?  Weill, performance typically lags when people are not focused on the task at hand.  There is a sense that, no matter what they do, they can’t change the current circumstances so, “Why bother?”  Distractions of this magnitude are hard to ignore.  As the leadership of the company, it is your responsibility to be in tune with the morale of your team and workforce in general.  It is possible to mitigate the effects of low morale by addressing them early on and encouraging employees to be part of the turn around process.

This might be one of the few times in history where the term “CHANGE” will be viewed in a positive light and actually be embraced by your team.

We may just discover the 5S process for managing our economy with a real process in place to manage the fifth “S” Sustainability.  Another one of the “anomalies” that just don’t make sense is, “This is just part of the nautral cycle of the economy.  We were long overdue.”  Somehow, that doesn’t say much about our governments or industry leaders. Why?  Because it suggests we should have been more than prepared to deal with this a long time ago.  The current scramble suggests the contrary to be true.  Secondly, what is “natural” about the economy – it’s manmade – driven by the decisions of business leaders and governments around the globe.  Natural? Never.  A logical excuse that every one seems to accept as part of “nature”?  Maybe.

Until next time – STAY Lean!

OEE Measurement Error

How many times have you, or someone you know, challenged the measurement process or method used to collect the data because the numbers just “don’t make sense” or “can’t be right”?

It is imperative to have integrity in the data collection process to minimize the effect of phantom improvements through measurement method changes.  Switching from a manual recording system to a completely automated system is a simple example of a data collection method change that will most certainly generate “different” results.

Every measurement system is subject to error including those used to measure and monitor OEE.  We briefly discussed the concept of variance with respect to actual process throughput and, as you may expect from this post, variance also applies to the measurement system.

Process and measurement stability are intertwined.  A reliable data collection / measurement system is required to establish an effective baseline from which to base your OEE improvement efforts.  We have observed very unstable processes with extreme throughput rates from one shift to the next.  We learned that the variance in many cases is not always the process but in the measurement system itself.

We decided to comment briefly on this phenomenon of measurement error for several reasons:

  1. The reporting systems will naturally improve as more attention is given to the data they generate.
  2. Manual data collection and reporting systems are prone to errors in both recording and data input.
  3. Automated data collection systems substantially reduce the risk of errors and improve data accuracy.
  4. Changes in OEE trends may be attributed to data collection technology not real process changes.

Consider the following:

  1. A person records the time of the down time and reset / start up events by reading a clock on the wall.
  2. A person records the time of the down time event using a wrist watch and then records the reset /start up time using the clock on the wall.
  3. A person uses a stop watch to track the duration of a down time event.
  4. Down time and up time event data are collected and retrieved from a fully automated system that instantly records events in real time.

Clearly, each of the above data collection methods will present varying degrees of “error” that will influence the accuracy of the resulting OEE.  The potential measurement error should be a consideration when attempting to quantify improvement efforts.

Measurement and Error Resolution

The technology used will certainly drive the degree of error you may expect to see.  A clock on the wall may yield an error of +/- 1 minute per event versus an automated system that may yield an error of +/- 0.01 seconds.

The resolution of the measurement system becomes even more relevant when we consider the duration of the “event”.  Consider the effect of measurement resolution and potential error for a down time event having a duration of 5 minutes versus 60 minutes.

CAUTION!

A classic fallacy is “inferred accuracy” as demonstrated by the stop watch measurement method.  Times may be recorded to 1/100th of a second suggesting a high degree of precision in the measurement.  Meanwhile, it may take the operator 10 seconds to locate the stop watch, 15 seconds to reset a machine fault, and 20 seconds to document the event on a “report” and another 10 seconds to return the stop watch to its proper location. 

What are we missing?  How significant is the event and was it worth even recording?  What if one operator records the “duration” after the machine is reset while another operator records the “duration” after documenting and returning the watch to its proper location?

The above example demands that we also consider the event type:  “high frequency-short duration” versus “low frequency-long duration” events.  Both must be considered when attempting to understand the results.

The EVENT is the Opportunity

As mentioned in previous posts, we need to understand what we are measuring and why.  The “event” and methods to avoid recurrence must be the focus of the improvement effort.  The cumulative duration of an event will help to focus efforts and prioritize the opportunities for improvement.

Additional metrics to help “understand” various process events include Mean Response Time, Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF), and Mean Time To Repair (MTTR).  Even 911 calls are monitored from the time the call is received.  The response time is as critical, if not more so, than the actual event, especially when the condition is life-threatening or otherwise self-destructive (fire, meltdown).

An interesting metric is the ratio between Response Time and Mean Time To Repair.  The response time is measured from the time the event occurs to the time “help” arrives.  Our experience suggests that significant improvements can be made simply by reducing the response time.

We recommend training and providing employees with the skills needed to be able to respond to “events” in real time.  Waiting 15 minutes for a technician to arrive to reset a machine fault that required only 10 seconds to resolve is clearly an opportunity.

Many facilities actually hire “semi-skilled” labour or “skilled technicians” to operate machines.  They are typically flexible, adaptable, present a strong aptitude for continual improvement, and readily trained to resolve process events in real time.

Conclusion

Measurement systems of any kind are prone to error.  While it is important to understand the significance of measurement error, it should not be the “primary” focus.  We recommend PREVENTION and ELIMINATION of events that impede the ability to produce a quality product at rate.

Regrettably, some companies are more interested in collecting “accurate” data than making real improvements (measuring for measurements sake). 

WHAT are you measuring and WHY?  Do you measure what you can’t control?  We will leave you with these few points to ponder.

Until next time – STAY Lean!

OEE, Downtime, and TEEP

We have received several inquiries regarding equipment down time – periods of time when the machine is not scheduled to run.  We consider this to be scheduled down time or idle time and does not affect Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE), since no production was planned during this period.

OEE measures overall equipment effectiveness during planned production or SCHEDULED up time.  Do not confuse idle time with tooling or material change over as these activities should be part of the scheduled machine time – periods where the machine is not scheduled to run.  After hours or weekends are examples of idle time.

TEEP or Total Equipment Effectiveness Performance is another variable, similar to OEE, and measures the Total Equipment Effectiveness Performance based on calendar time – the total time the equipment is “present”.  If process “A” is in your plant for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, then the total time required to make good parts is divided by the time the asset, process, or equipment is “present” and is therefore “technically available” for the time frame being considered.  Typically this is based on calendar time – 24 hours per day and 7 days per week.

Another way to view TEEP is to consider it as a measure of how effectively the total capacity of a process or machine is being utilized to make GOOD parts.  In short, TEEP could be defined as a measure of Equipment Capacity Utilization Effectiveness.

TEEP Calculation Example:

In the metal stamping business, raw coil steel is processed through a die that runs in a stamping press to manufacture the parts.  The ideal cycle time for may be 30 strokes (or parts) per minute.  While the press may be scheduled to run for 16 hours, it is technically “present” or available 24 hours.  If, in a given day, a total of 18,000 GOOD parts were produced over 16 hours of scheduled production time, the OEE is easily calculated.

We will first calculate the IDEAL hours required to produce 18,000 parts at 30 spm.  The IDEAL rate per hour is 1,800 parts (30 spm * 60 minutes  / hour).  Therefore the IDEAL time to produce 18,000 good parts is 10 hours (18,000 parts / 1,800 per hour).

If this is a two shift operation, the net available time is 16 hours (scheduled) and the OEE for the day is calculated as 10 / 16 = 62.5 %.

Since the press is always present, 24 hours per day – 7 days per week, the Daily Equipment Effectiveness Performance (DEEP) in this case is 10 / 24 = 41.7 %.  While this example only represents a single 24 hour day, the basis for calculation is the same.  If the time frame is one week, one month, one quarter, the Total Equipment Effectiveness Performance for that time frame is calculated using the following formula:

TEEP = Total IDEAL Time to Produce Good Parts / Total Gross Time Available

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Feel free to leave any comments or send your questions to LeanExecution@gmail.com

Until next time – STAY Lean!

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