Steve Goodall (SG), production director of marketing solutions provider APS Group, talks to Roberto Priolo (RP) about the deployment of a software used to measure OEE to add to a lacking lean programme.

RP What made you decide to adopt a software solution to track your OEE?

SG A few months ago we realised the lean principles we deployed weren’t enough. We were good at moving pallets for example, but there was still a lot of waste being generated. This time last year I was looking to replace printing machinery, and realised we didn’t have the infrastructure to support modern technology within our equipment. We needed a real understanding of how our machines were working to move into modern manufacturing.

RP What solution did you decide to implement and what results have you seen?

SG All devices carry their own OEE, which means you are dealing with high costs and multiple manufacturers. If you make changes in the factory, to see the outcome you have to wait four weeks for a manufacturer rep to come in with a 200-page report you have to pay for and referring to just one machine. Traditional usage of OEE doesn’t work in this industry. I needed a device like TRAKsys, developed by Cimlogic, that could work on any piece of equipment.

We tried it for four days, attaching it to two events on the machine to give us an idea of the product. We later bought enough for 100 events, and we were able to reduce wasteage and non value added steps down to 27% on the two machines it was used on. Capacity increased.

RP What were the advantages?

SG We are in control of our machines. Every time a machine stops we know why. Operators can see the advantages, and that ensures their buy-in. They are now more confortable in approaching management with new ideas: in our industry many seem to think that lean is hitting operators with a stick to make sure they run jobs as fast as possible, but I didn’t want that. We are identifying and eliminating variations, from individual to individual or from day shift to night shift.

This solution shows us the profile of work. It helps us with investment proposals, highliting seasonal changes, risks, and the technology we lack. It told us that 13 weeks of the year were being occupied by changeovers!

RP How did you ensure workforce buy-in?

SG All of the 167 staff went through an overview on six sigma touching on OEE. Fifty-five people are trained to use the software. At first they thought it was a tool to help me analyse them, but this Big Brother view was taken away after we explained its purpose. Without their buy-in it was never going to be a success.

RP Why do you think many don’t use IT to support their lean programme?

SG A lot of managers and directors don’t really understand OEE. Unless you have true CI and training programme in place, it will fail. Additionally, people don’t know it’s out there: many are manually collecting data, rather than recording it.