Solving the OEE Puzzle: A Focus on Efficiency in 2024

Working with a smart factory solutions provider to implement solutions will empower your business to focus on the areas that allow you to maximize ROI and build a more resilient future.

Marius Adobe Stock 600859974
Marius AdobeStock_600859974

In a world where unpredictability has become the norm, the last few years have served as a stark reminder that anything can happen. Reflecting on the challenges of the past year, one thing remains clear: the need for business resilience has never been more pressing. This is where the role of solutions already present in manufacturing operations could play a significant part in navigating the uncertain road ahead.

The shift toward extracting the maximum value from every existing asset has emerged as a clear response in fortifying businesses against unforeseen disruptions. Whether grappling with supply chain disruptions, market fluctuations, or global crises, a business’s resilience can be largely swayed by its capacity to derive optimal value from its resources, including operations, labor and sustainability.

Preparing your business for the future can often feel like solving a complex puzzle. By consolidating information into a unified platform, businesses can simplify decision-making processes and gain a clearer perspective on how to maximize their ROI.

The missing piece of the puzzle

Central to any business strategy lies an often-forgotten piece of the puzzle: data. The raw data collected across various facets of the production process is often an untapped resource waiting to be harnessed. Many manufacturers find themselves with a treasure trove of data but lack the processes to extract its full potential. This gap between data capture and effective utilization is where businesses often falter.

In the journey toward resilience, recognizing data as the cornerstone and implementing structured processes to harness its power becomes the catalyst for informed decision-making and operational single source of truth. Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) is a measurement used to harness this data, offering the ability to identify the highest impact opportunities for productivity gains on your production lines.

OEE, a key metric for measuring a manufacturing process's effectiveness, takes into account machine availability, performance, and quality to provide a holistic view of a production line's efficiency. By determining performance against equipment capability, tracking OEE can empower businesses to be prepared for the challenges facing the food and drink manufacturing industry. We explore three of these key challenges below.

Labor shortages

In the aftermath of Brexit and the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, the food and beverage manufacturing industry has grappled with unfilled positions and lack of skilled workers in the face of significant labor shortages.

Against this backdrop, maximizing team time becomes not only a necessity but a strategic imperative. It's important for businesses to recalibrate their approach, ensuring that people continue to play an indispensable role in the manufacturing process. By implementing OEE monitoring, not only can operations achieve increased efficiency, but they can also optimize labor utilization by employing streamlined processes. This approach minimizes unplanned downtime and reduces the need for staff overtime, ultimately enhancing overall staff productivity through more efficient workflows. By leveraging technology, automation, and optimized workflows, the industry can navigate labor challenges, ensuring that every team member contributes meaningfully to the overall production process while offering positive returns on ROI.

Global supply chain disruptionOperating in the face of global supply chain disruptions and the threat of a global food crisis, with raw materials shortages creating price hikes across sectors, making the most of every asset becomes priority. Every business is now under pressure to produce more products faster and with higher quality, but with fewer resources. Often working with low margins, operators must put a stronger focus on maximizing asset utilization and increasing line efficiency to achieve increased productivity, reduced downtime and reductions in waste.

By monitoring OEE, businesses can quickly identify areas of inefficiency, getting ahead of unplanned downtime and maintenance while ensuring every resource is exploited to its full potential for more resilient and robust operations.

Reducing operational emissionsIn the face of rising energy costs and increasing pressure to reduce carbon emissions, the need for more sustainable operations is imperative. Positive momentum can be seen across industry to adopt initiatives such as sustainable packaging however, the opportunity to reduce the environmental impact of running production lines must not be forgotten. For some, taking a stronger focus on reducing waste – such as water - and producing units with the most efficient use of resources – including minimizing the energy required - may feel like an obvious objective but it is one often overlooked. By continuing to consider this challenge through an increased efficiency lens, production lines that are not operating effectively can see materials wasted and increased loss through the production of poor-quality products.

Manufacturing lines that run efficiently can reduce material waste and use fewer resources. Achieving more efficient operations also mean that production does not need to operate for as long, resulting in lower energy used and a more sustainable manufacturing process. This ultimately translates into a product with a lower overall carbon footprint per unit than can be achieved through initiatives that are only implanted at the end of production, for example. By striving for maximum OEE, businesses can support its transition to more sustainable operations while offering a significant opportunity to bolster business resilience and unlock additional CAPEX.

Piecing it all together

The food and beverage manufacturing sector faces a difficult challenge, finding itself at the intersection of labor shortages, rising operational costs and the threat of a global food crisis, not to mention low margins in an already challenging operating environment. Working toward improving OEE is a no brainer, in theory, but piecing it together, in practice, can become a challenging and often daunting feat.

End-to-end connected shop-floor monitoring and analysis systems offer a helping hand towards reaching this goal. Serving as an essential step to first understand all plant processes – from line monitoring to machine downtime tracking – before identifying the areas in need of adaptation to achieve optimum output while reducing wasted resources. By adopting software that essentially removes the burden of thought, and improves OEE, manufacturers can tap into the goldmine of data that is often left unexploited. Real-time data, which can facilitate enhanced use of team time, more efficient production and transparent reporting on sustainability initiatives.

Ultimately, working with a smart factory solutions provider to implement solutions will empower your business to focus on the areas that allow you to maximize ROI and build a more resilient future.