How do we balance time and money when it comes to plant maintenance? It’s common for many organizations to rely upon reactive maintenance, and fixing problems as they occur. While this method can seem cost-effective initially, the costs will increase over time with extended downtime and greater unpredictability. Proactive maintenance, however, while generating a higher upfront cost, can lower overall maintenance costs, reduce equipment and employee downtime, and significantly increase asset availability.
Since the 1970s, an increasing number of manufacturers have used the three components of availability, performance, and quality to calculate the overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) for determining how well a process is running. OEE is also used to identify areas of improvement. Understandably, most manufacturers target the more prominent areas of concern, which will generate a more dramatic or marked improvement.
Although many manufacturers have implemented overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) over the last few decades, not every facility has embraced it effectively. Often facilities either knowingly or unknowingly neglect or overemphasize one of the three essential components of OEE. Manufacturers apply OEE inconsistently, include too much, or exclude unpleasant data. When used correctly, OEE is an excellent resource for driving continuous improvement in manufacturing facilities. Facilities that are struggling to meet goals or seeking to move up a few extra percentage points can gain the edge they need by returning to basics and evaluating processes honestly.
Translating Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) into financial terms allows everyone from the plant floor operators to executives, measure continuous improvement and understand the business value of OEE. The challenge is making this a reality. This blog will dive into what it means to measure OEE, why you should translate that into financial terms, why OEE is important, and finally what role software plays.
Environmental health and safety regulations affect all manufacturing plants whether they utilize a software platform or not. More and more facilities are looking for cloud-based solutions and ways to optimize resources to remain competitive in the industry. Managing environmental health and safety manually is prone to human error, and can consume a significant amount of work hours that could instead be directed toward other, more productive tasks. Cloud-based solutions free up the hours workers and operators spent searching for documents or compiling data into reports. Your facility may already have a system in place for monitoring environmental health and safety issues but may be looking for a genuinely cloud-based, integrative solution. You may not have a digital process, or software program at all. However, as EHS regulations tighten and fines are increasing, the cost of not taking EHS seriously is on the rise. Attempting to monitor EHS manually is an impediment to continuous improvement. The average manufacturer pays nearly $20,000 per employee per year to comply with federal regulations. Knowing how expensive noncompliance can be, is environmental health and safety software that important? Let’s look at what it is and what it can do for your facility.
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” —Benjamin Franklin.
What Is Preventive Maintenance?
Even the best-built equipment will break down over time and need maintenance. Much like taking a car in for regularly scheduled oil changes, preventive maintenance is planned maintenance that a facility performs on its equipment to reduce the risk of failure. Also sometimes referred to as preventative maintenance, the goal is always to incur a lower cost in the present to prevent a higher cost from equipment breakdown in the future.
Many plants are looking for ways to create more efficient processes and develop strategies to better compete with others in the industry. For many, this desire to improve means moving away from traditional manufacturing. It can be a little uncomfortable to look for ways to change when things seem to be working just fine already. However, sticking with processes because “that’s the way we’ve always done them” can work against driving continuous improvement. That’s where implementing OEE comes in.
Manufacturers are seeking ways to remain competitive in challenging markets, and many are exploring how Lean manufacturing and continuous improvement can expand opportunities. There are a number of misconceptions regarding the relationship between the terms Lean manufacturing and continuous improvement. While conflating terms in business and manufacturing is nothing new, it’s crucial to start with some clear explanations of some key general terms to understand better. Manufacturers interested in implementing or expanding Lean tactics can benefit from taking a closer look at these concepts to determine what processes already align with Lean manufacturing and continuous improvement and which do not. For anyone unsure whether Lean manufacturing and continuous improvement are the same thing, keep reading. Let’s start with getting a better handle on what Lean manufacturing is—and what it is not.
While every manufacturer wants to track improvement and meet goals, how different manufacturers approach this can vary drastically. Manufacturers at the enterprise level can quickly devise dozens, even hundreds of performance indicators to monitor every point along every process. Not all of these indicators hold equal importance when it comes to making decisions and driving goals. The adage, "work smarter, not harder," sums up the purpose of KPIs. This blog will separate the wheat from the chaff and dive into KPIs and how manufacturing facilities can effectively use them.
Specifications are the standards or the minimally accepted requirements for important features (or characteristics) of a product. Many manufacturers also set their own specifications. The confusion between specification compliance and quality can lead to financial loss, wasted time, and so on. For example, a product can fall within specifications but still prove unsatisfactory for clients. Additionally, manufacturers that rely solely on meeting specifications can miss out on opportunities to create more cost-effective processes. Thus, applying several statistical principles can immensely help a company identify ways to positively reform a process and product. By moving beyond the gauge parameters of specifications, manufacturers can boost quality with an efficient, optimized, and cost-effective process that performs better and satisfies the customer base.