Why is OEE so abused in many of our operations where, despite expensive software ‘solutions’, we can find lots of data but very little useful information? It's time to overhaul OEE, well the use of it. not the actual calculation.
Why do so many managers ask for the ‘overall OEE’ for their whole operation - is that even a real question? In view of the above questions, I think that it’s about time the use of OEE is itself overhauled, if only to reset expectations for what is an extremely powerful improvement tool, if correctly applied.
Don't use OEE as a mallet
OEE is akin to a surgeon’s scalpel in that it is best used very precisely, with great care, in the right place. It is not a blunderbuss to be applied everywhere at the same time in order to collect huge amounts of useless data that will be wastefully analysed by a well-meaning central data ninja. All of this in the pursuit of some apparently important ‘Overall Equipment Effectiveness’ metric for the whole operation.
So, you may ask: how do we determine precisely the right place to apply OEE? That’s relatively easy. Just follow one of the 5 guiding principles of lean - Go Look See. When on your visit to the production line, find your bottleneck. usually the one wit all the WIP building up in front of it. This is the process on which to focus your initial OEE investigation - even if it’s a purely manual operation, the tool still works.
Train the team how to capture the 6 big losses here and how to tackle them. Once the WIP in front of the operation has disappeared then, Go Look See where it has moved to and start again.
And when the data ninjas are screaming for their aggregated OEE data for the hungry gods in the corporate sky, ignore them as best as you can. Save your teams the pain of pointless data gathering and focus on smashing bottlenecks in the value stream.
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