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    Measuring Operations Success: Line Efficiency?

    In our experience, most production plants measure some form of theoretical efficiency to measure success of a product line. Many, if not most, of the plants that claim to be measuring OEE (overall equipment effectiveness), are, in fact, measuring some form of efficiency. This is generally because measuring OEE requires far more rigor and precision about where and how things are measured. Another common finding is that plants who have measured theoretical efficiency in the past don’t want to switch to OEE because they would have to explain the apparent (but not true) drop in performance to upper management, so they measure OEE in a way that makes them look better, on reports to management, than they are.

    The main problem that I see with measuring theoretical efficiency is that there is normally some assumed losses built into the number. I was in one plant recently that had a shift where they ran a line efficiency of 101%. A cause to celebrate, right? When I dug a little deeper, I discovered that running an efficiency of 100% means that they have 1.6 hours of downtime during an 8 hour shift. They think that 20% downtime is normal!

    The issue here is that when you assume some downtime is normal (whatever the number), you make it acceptable to have significant production stoppages that don’t get examined and eliminated. Minor stoppages (high frequency with short duration) are particularly vexing because most operators accept them as normal operating events, and most production supervisors are not aware of how frequent they are because they can’t spend enough time focused on one production line to identify a minor event as an ongoing obstacle.

    We would encourage you to accurately measure your downtime and work to eliminate the causes. There is untapped potential throughput to be had without capital spending, at a very low cost, and with an astounding ROI.

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