Every day, manufacturers strive to ship their parts on time and at the quoted price. This can be very complicated, with factors like labor shortages and machine downtime preventing companies from achieving maximum OEE. While manufacturers work to mitigate these challenges, there isn’t always a clear process to follow when improving operations.

Amper’s goal is to help manufacturers feel less overworked and to focus their resources on the problems that matter most. Below are 6 simple steps that will help you improve your factory’s OEE.

1. Digitize your data collection

Manual data collection is a waste of time. With such a large labor shortage in manufacturing, spending multiple hours a week collecting data manually is simply not sustainable, and it is often inaccurate or incomplete. By digitizing the way you collect data, you can automate the vast majority of the process and add more time back into your week.

For example, instead of having your team write down why a machine went down or create daily production reports, you can use technologies like Amper to get real-time data across your entire factory. Amper’s plug-and-play hardware can be installed in minutes on any machine with no PLC or IT integration, and is an easy way to get started with digital data collection.

With accurate, comprehensive data at your fingertips, you are capable of enacting meaningful change in your factory that can improve your operations.

2. Identify and monitor your operational resources

Once you have digitized your data collection, it is important to assess the resources at your disposal. The machines and people in your factory play a critical role in helping you achieve maximum OEE, and monitoring them across categories such as quality, productivity, and downtime can provide significant insights into improving your operations.

Using the data collected in step one, you can explore what is happening in your factory across the board. To illustrate, many leading manufacturers use Amper to monitor employee productivity. With Amper’s intuitive software interface, operators can easily sign in and out of work, allowing supervisors to evaluate performance both by operator name and by shift. This empowers your workforce by increasing accountability and allows supervisors to identify training opportunities to enhance productivity.

3. Conduct a Pareto analysis using the 80/20 rule

No manufacturing operation is perfect. There are always ways to improve, yet identifying where to focus your efforts can be a challenge. Conducting a Pareto analysis and following the 80/20 rule is an industry-wide best practice for determining high-priority issues. The 80/20 rule states that 20% of your production contributes to 80% of your revenue. By segmenting customers and/or parts by revenue, you can identify what parts of your business have the highest impact and deserve the most attention.

4. Identify root causes

After identifying your key value drivers using the 80/20 rule, you must perform root cause analysis to determine how to improve those processes. Amper offers many tools to assist with root cause analysis, such as a dashboard allowing you to view each machine’s downtime across your factory. In addition to overall downtime for each machine, Amper lets operators input downtime codes to help you understand not only which machines went down, but also the reason why.

5. Create an action plan

The last step in improving your factory’s OEE is creating a plan to enhance productivity in the high-priority areas identified in step three. This plan will change on a case-to-case basis depending on what issues were selected in the Pareto analysis. Below are a few challenges manufacturers often face, and our recommended solutions. 

High Levels of Downtime

Identify which machines have the highest rates of downtime using Amper’s intuitive software interface and create automatic alerts that contact a maintenance technician and/or supervisor when a machine goes down. This will reduce response time to machine stoppages and will help increase uptime.

Uneven Machine Utilization and Maintenance

Amper’s utilization data shows which machines are actually being used each day, enabling you to see patterns in over- or under-utilization. This information allows you to allocate maintenance resources properly on a usage-based schedule.

Labor Shortage

Sometimes, manufacturers simply lack enough operators to keep their machines running. Investing in cobotics for machine tending is a great way to help operators stay focused on more important tasks such as programming and custom design.

Inconsistent Part Quality

Amper lets you monitor production by operator name and by shift, which allows you to pinpoint causes of inconsistency in part quality. Thus, you have the opportunity to retrain operators when necessary.

6. Iterate on your success

After you have implemented change, it is critical to reassess your operations and check for success. Furthermore, you should always be looking for additional areas to improve. By adopting a culture of continuous improvement in your factory, your productivity will grow over time, helping you achieve maximum OEE.

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