OEE Tracking Software - The Root Cause Analyzer

Ann Grace
Contributing Writer

OEE is a critical metric for manufacturing plants to track. With proper, consistent measurement, it allows plant managers to track the overall performance of their facilities and determine the root cause behind line interruptions, unplanned downtime, quality rejections, and equipment problems. This root cause analysis saves manufacturing teams significant time and effort. What might take weeks to diagnose can be uncovered through smart and sophisticated trend analysis, all made possible through OEE tracking software. Here’s what you need to know about deploying this powerful solution in your plant.

Is OEE Tracking Software Different from OEE Reporting Software?

These two terms are sometimes used interchangeably; OEE reporting software is sometimes referred to as OEE tracking software. Technically speaking, OEE tracking software captures data as it comes off your production lines and OEE reporting software has the back-end analytics necessary to create charts and graphs that guide manufacturers to take action and correct insufficiencies. Ideally, your OEE solution should both track and report.

OEE stands for overall equipment effectiveness, and creating OEE reports is a best practice for tracking and improving manufacturing operations. From machines themselves to specific production lines, OEE reports reveal areas where manufacturing productivity is being lost. In doing so, they can quickly identify performance gaps and help you answer questions such as:

  • Are we utilizing each piece of equipment to its fullest capacity?

  • Is there one machine in particular that is underperforming and slowing down an entire line?

  • Are there bottlenecks we’ve overlooked which could be causing holdups, rework, or other issues in our operations?

Of course, your line managers are already trained and experienced in spotting many of these problems. Yet, the issue is that there are often underlying problems which are far more difficult to detect. If you had unlimited manpower and resources, you might be able to catch them in time. OEE reporting software simplifies the process for you.

Sometimes referred to as OEE management software, or OEE database software, these systems offer intuitive dashboards and easy-to-use features to bring key issues to your attention (preventing you from discovering them far down the road). They track downtime and operating time, speed, and fully productive time to identify where losses are occurring. In doing so, OEE management software takes the guesswork out of root cause analysis. Plus, it eliminates the tedious, time-consuming task of attempting to manually track equipment and line performance, while also taking any risk of human error out of the equation.

How Does OEE Management Software Work?

OEE software leverages IoT (internet of things) technology, tracking factors like fully productive time by collecting and analyzing data from equipment. This prevents your teams from having to manually record and input equipment data – after all, their efforts are better spent on strategic tasks other than this repetitive work.

Once it has this information, it applies advanced algorithms to compare how your plant should be operating versus how it’s actually operating. In addition to providing you these insights on a holistic level, it can also drill down and look into specific lines, shifts, and machines.

At the most basic level, OEE is a calculation. It starts with total planned production time (not including planned schedule loss caused by factors like breaks and plant shutdowns). Then, it allows you to see how much of that planned time is actually productive by measuring loss across the following three areas.

  • Quality loss measures the ratio of fully productive time, during which only good products are produced at the quickest possible rate without any stops, versus net run time, which measures the fastest time the total count could be produced in. Thus, this measure accounts for rework and pieces that fail to meet quality standards.

  • Performance determines how closely an asset is running compared to its maximum speed. It’s calculated by multiplying the optimal cycle time, or the fastest possible time for producing an item, by the total number of pieces produced. This is then divided by the run time, which should incorporate any small stops.  

  • Availability considers interruptions and how they contribute to loss by halting production for roughly a few minutes. The simple equation of availability is calculated by dividing actual run time by planned production time. Causes for availability loss may include equipment malfunctions, jams, and changeover time.

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OEE software takes these measurements and produces a total OEE value by multiplying availability by performance and quality. But, it factors in the nuances of each plant and each product, line, or machine, so the calculations can get complicated. An OEE score of 100% would thus represent an operation in which:

  • only good parts are being produced (100% quality),

  • operations are running at the maximum speed (100% performance), and

  • there are no interruptions (100% availability).

Realistically, no manufacturing plant can expect to hit 100% OEE. This is especially true for food manufacturers, which are bound to see some interruptions. Yet, implementing OEE software is the make-or-break factor that can get your operation as close to that moonshot as possible.

Putting OEE into practice can work in one of two ways. For one, it can be used as a benchmark. With this approach, you’ll track your asset’s OEE to other metrics. For instance, you might compare your facility’s OEE to world-class standards, or measure the OEE of one of your locations against that of another. Even specific lines and shifts can be compared to see which are excelling and which could use improvement.

Additionally, OEE can be used as a comparison tool, where you determine how operations are either accelerating or lagging compared to your original OEE measurement. When downward trends appear, you can even receive notifications and alerts so you can intervene quickly, before too much time or product is lost.

Clearly, the advantages of implementing OEE software span far and wide – and we’ve only grazed the surface of what these remarkable systems can do for your plant.

What Are the Benefits of OEE Database Software?

OEE database software is just another name for OEE software. OEE software, after all, does rely on a centralized database to store equipment and production data. Ideally, food manufacturers have only one database – a single source of truth for all safety, quality, production, and compliance measurements. With point solutions or siloed databases, unlocking patterns to discover the full story of how your plant is operating is nearly impossible. With the right tool, however – OEE software that interacts with the same database where the rest of your plant data is stored – you can efficiently capture insights that will help you make informed decisions to improve your plant.

OEE database software can tell an in-depth story about where your losses are occurring. For example, it can help you see where you’re underperforming in terms of:

  • Speed: Is your production running as fast as it could? OEE software allows you to not only answer this question, but also dig deeper to find out why speed losses are occurring. It looks for both small stops and general lagging. While minor interruptions that don’t require any maintenance may simply seem like inconveniences, actually keeping track of them can reveal eye-opening results. Everything from jams to blocked sensors has the potential to slow your line down, ultimately reducing your overall productivity.

  • Quality: You’re probably already keeping a close eye on scrap and rework, but do you know why it’s occurring – and when? From improper assemblies to in-process damage, there are many potential culprits behind quality loss. Rejects can arise at any point in the manufacturing process, but determining where they seem to occur most often allows you to take action and increase your overall yield.

  • Downtime: Some downtime is to be expected in any manufacturing plant. Food companies are certainly familiar with the time it takes for setup, changeovers, sanitizing efforts, and other key adjustments. Yet, OEE can help you pinpoint if it’s possible to make these processes more efficient. For example, if your second shift tackles changeovers in half the time your first one does, you might be able to pinpoint a personnel issue that could reduce downtime. 

Similarly, OEE database software keeps track of all your equipment, looking at issues like failures, breakdowns, and unplanned maintenance. Based on its observations, it can provide detailed analyses that may help you make more targeted decisions for predictive maintenance, which could not only reduce downtime but optimize run time as well.

The ability to not only calculate loss but perform a root cause analysis to get to the bottom of any areas of underperformance is where OEE software truly shines. Once you know what’s causing your loss, you can address it effectively. And, you can monitor OEE on an ongoing basis for continuous improvement and prompt attention to any issue that arises. As a result, your facility can expect to see the following improvements upon deploying an OEE solution:

  • A More Productive Facility: Maximize the performance of your machinery and ensure all of your plant’s equipment is operating at full capacity around the clock. Increase workplace productivity by identifying shift and line trends and using these insights to drive performance.

  • Improved Quality: Determine the factors causing rejects, rework, and non-conformances with OEE’s powerful root cause analysis. Address these issues in real time to ensure a consistent stream of higher-quality products. 

  • Boosted Throughput: Pinpoint and eliminate wasteful or redundant actions to streamline your operations and decrease defective products with the help of the reporting features provided by OEE software. 

  • Increased Yield: Drive the volume of finished products and maintain on-time deliveries to customers by using OEE insights to make data-driven decisions that benefit your operations. 

  • Lower Costs: Cut costs from underperformance, scrap, and limited productivity with more efficient operations that ultimately boost your plant’s bottom line. 

If you’re ready to see what OEE software could do for you, allow us to help. SafetyChain has designed an OEE solution specifically with the key needs of food and beverage companies in mind. Get in touch for a demo to explore our solution and see how our system can help your facility overcome its greatest challenges.