6 Most Common OEE Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Aug 17, 2021 by Mark Dingley

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An essential element of continuous improvement for manufacturers, Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) is a powerful way to optimise your equipment’s efficiency. If you get the implementation right, OEE can be used to pinpoint areas of your line that are a problem – plus, allow you to make the changes needed to improve your production.

There are, however, some common mistakes that could actually be holding you back from unlocking OEE’s full advantages. Fortunately, most of them are easily avoidable or have some quick fixes.

In this blog, we’ve taken a closer look at 6 of the most common OEE mistakes and what steps can be taken to avoid or remedy them.

Common Mistakes

Mistake #1: Focusing on the OEE score rather than the losses

One of the biggest mistakes when it comes to OEE, you aren’t really going to improve production by monitoring your score on its own. This will tell you the ‘what’ but it won’t tell you the ‘why’. OEE’s true value comes from identifying your underlying losses (Availability, Performance and Quality) and where they come from. Your OEE score will actually increase when you focus on these losses and take action to reduce them. More importantly, your production capacity will improve, which will lead to a manufacturing business that is more competitive.

How to avoid or remedy? Rather than a KPI, think of OEE as an improvement measure.

Mistake #2: Using OEE to compare processes and plants that are unrelated

We know it can be tempting to compare your OEE score to scores from other equipment, processes and even plants. The fact is, however, that these comparisons really don’t mean anything – unless you’re comparing the same equipment, running the same product, and in the same environment. Look at it this way – why would you compare the OEE score from a production line that has 10 changeovers a day with one that has only 2 changeovers? These sorts of comparisons are only a distraction.

How to avoid or remedy? Take care when it comes to comparisons. Focus on how OEE can be used as a tool to measure improvement and manage progress for a certain asset.

Mistake #3: Failing to engage operators in the process

Keep in mind that operators are essential to the OEE process – they're the ones who’ll be monitoring and using the data in order to make changes and improvements. If you don’t engage operators, you actually run the risk of OEE being viewed as another KPI, abstract metric or, God forbid, a tool that can be used to blame people when something goes wrong.

How to avoid or remedy? Be sure to engage your operators in the implementation process from the very beginning. Training will help them understand how OEE will guide their tasks and why it’s important to the company. OEE is just another number without their input.

Mistake #4: Excluding changeovers from your OEE calculation

As changeovers are an unavoidable part of the production process, it can be tempting to exclude them from the OEE calculation altogether and instead focus on unscheduled downtime as being the only cause of availability losses. It’s important to remember, however, that changeover time is actually lost production time – it's time that you could be spending on producing an output. There’s big potential for changeover times to be reduced in most cases. Whilst it is possible to increase Availability (along with your OEE score) by excluding changeovers from your OEE calculation, keep in mind that it will hide opportunities to increase production by streamlining changeovers.

How to avoid or remedy? You will be able to identify opportunities to streamline changeovers and increase production if you include changeover time in your OEE calculation.

Mistake #5: Implement OEE across the whole plant

There is simply no value in calculating the OEE of a whole plant. For example, you may know that the plant has high quality or availability losses – but this won’t pinpoint where the losses actually are. Instead, OEE is best used for a single production line or piece of equipment in order to measure performance and analyse your losses. Focusing on a single asset – using the breakdown of availability, performance and quality – will enable you to zero in on areas that could be improved.

How to avoid or remedy? Begin with implementing OEE on one machine, then roll it out to more as the need arises. A pilot run will enable your staff to see the value of OEE and encourage them to get onboard.

Mistake #6: You are too slow at collecting data

Collecting a combination of automated and manual data, and putting it into a spreadsheet is a sure-fire way to calculate OEE. It should be noted, however, that this method is time consuming and cumbersome, not to mention very ineffective. You’ve lost hours of production capacity by the time you’ve identified the issue and worked out how to best improve the process.

How to avoid or remedy? In order to unlock the full benefit of OEE, you should use software to automatically collect and report on it in real-time. Software can automatically feed through to an OEE dashboard, allowing managers and operators to see KPIs instantly. When they have the right data at their fingertips, operators will be able to see where they can improve performance and reduce losses.

It might seem overwhelming at first, but you can ensure that you’re getting the most value from the implementation of OEE from the very beginning when you give it time, planning and have the support of the experts.

Need some extra help when it comes to OEE data collection and monitoring? The team at Matthews Australasia is here to help you measure and visualise your OEE in order to increase plant performance and operational efficiency – get in touch with us today!