Packaging professionals and manufacturers are all-too familiar with Overall Equipment Effectiveness. OEE is one way that efficiency on the packaging line is measured, and is constantly being monitored for improvement opportunities. In order to understand OEE better, our Mission: Packaging students did some research and asked professionals in their networks how it is measured, what factors impact it, and why it matters. Read on below to see what they learned:

Caroline: Calculation is Crucial
Behind every package, complicated or simple, lies a dynamic manufacturing system that directly contributes to the cost and quality of the packaged product. Inevitably, with a packaging line composed of multiple machines, conveyers, and detecting systems there will be inefficiencies and room for improvement. One way in which the industry mathematically determines these inefficiencies and a path for improvement is with an Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) measurement. The basic definition of this measurement is described as availability times performance time quality, but when addressing OEE specific to the packaging industry everything to do with operation should be considered.

Some factors that influence OEE include line speed, scrap, ramping rates, and line availability. These factors can either negatively or positively influence OEE, and understanding the manufacturing process is essential when optimizing a packaging line. For example, unilateral adjustments to ramping rates causes degradation that negatively impacts OEE. A line’s normal speed, which is determined by design to fulfill customer requirements of volume and quality within specific time constraints may be 240 per minute, but an operator may run at 220 because the line isn’t running well and more problems are encountered on that given day. Additionally, uncalculated or more importantly miscalculated down-time adds up to negatively impact production rates and output.

Properly managing and monitoring these factors can positively impact OEE, but how is that done? Data acquisition and analytic systems can automatically track and analyze the type of data corresponding to the factors already discussed, including Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF) and Mean Time to Repair (MTTR). Automatic data collection tools provide a way to calculate and track scrap to help determine the cause, whether it be in the design of a machine or packaging line. By reducing scrap, line speed and availability are increased, which generates a better OEE.

In an interview published in Packaging World magazine, a packaging expert in the pharmaceutical industry, Paul Zepf, discusses the importance of addressing OEE in pharmaceutical packaging (Butschli 2009). Zepf compared OEE between food and pharmaceutical facilities and estimated that the OEE for a world class pharmaceutical company is about 67%, and 85% for a world class food operation. Despite regulations the pharmaceutical packaging industry must accommodate, it’s emphasized that this is an area in the industry with large potential for improvement with most facilities operating at 15-45% OEE. It’s no secret that one key to success is to never stop improving. To understand the factors that influence Overall Equipment Effectiveness and how they apply to the packaging industry is an important first step to manufacturing lower cost and higher quality packaging.

Butschli, Jim. “Tracking elusive OEE in pharmaceutical packaging”. Packaging World. 5 June 2009. Accessed 29 July 2017.

Kari: Improving OEE for Packaging
I chose to interview my supervisor for my summer internship in the automotive packaging industry for this task. He was unable to sign the content release form due to strict company policies, however, he agreed to continue with the interview anonymously.
Q:  What is Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) as it relates to the packaging industry?
A:  All machines are specified to meet a minimum OEE of 85% of standard rate, therefore the packaging machine’s cycle time, uptime, and FTT need to perform to meet that level at a minimum.
Q:  What are some examples of things that negatively impact OEE?
A:  Usually the dimensional variability along with the structural variability of the packaging materials impacts the machine uptime. The cycle time is set to not be the constraint of the line, and precautions are made in the process to not damage the end item product.
Q:  What are some examples of things that positively impact OEE?
A:  Having a specific machine tender to watch over the packaging operation has minimized down time, and scrap.
Q:  What measures do you/have you taken in your operation to increase OEE?
A:  We have established a different layout for reusable internal packaging material in the area has improved damage to the packaging in process, and also improved the operator cycle time.
Q:  What does OEE accomplish as it applies to end of line packaging?
A:  It is a very effective measurement tool to improve processes.  It identifies the areas of loss specifically.

Overall, it appears to be important to monitor the OEE in order to seek out areas that need improvement. If progress is consistently emphasized, that is in turn a positive aspect for a business. I have learned that packaging tends to be one of the first processes to receive blame for quality issues, however, it tends to be one of the last processes to be considered when starting a new project. That is why it is important to have a team in place for the packaging process with a constant motivation to improve these processes.

Tristen: Evaluating OEE From a Different Perspective
tristen mission 6Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE), a powerful metric used in Total Productive Maintenance (TPM), assigns a numerical value to improvement opportunity. OEE factors in the Availability rate, Performance rate, and Quality rate of manufacturing equipment, and is important in deciding whether a piece of equipment is providing efficient value and serving to meet present and future customer demand.

Lee Euihark is a Professor at Rutgers University with an extensive background in both the packaging industry and academia. Though he has not work directly with OEE in the past, with such considerable experience in packaging, I felt like interviewing him would provide a fresh input and perspective on OEE that could substantiate my own research on the subject. With past work in computer modeling and systems, his take on the metrics used in OEE focused on their mathematical basis. He emphasized how important it is in comparative analysis that all measurements be converted into a scalar for accurate comparison. Otherwise most measurements won’t have a basis for comparison. As measurements must be comparative scalar in order for accurate comparison, some skewing will occur depending on the methods used, much like when converting a spherical globe into a 2D map.

In regards to end of line packaging, OEE provides us with a metric to gauge where inefficiencies lie in the factory, in order to ensure that the highest quality parts are being delivered at peak performance during all planned production hours. Manufacturers have to pay attention to many factors that can have both a positive and negative impact on their equipment’s OEE, such as skill level of their employees and scheduled maintenance/wear and tear on equipment.

Ellis New, Senior Management Consultant-Business Practice Leader, Productivity Inc. | Aug 19, 2014. “OEE – Learn How to Use It Right.” IndustryWeek. N.p., 26 Nov. 2014. Web. 27 July 2017.”Free Resources and Fresh Perspectives on OEE.” What Is OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness)? N.p., n.d. Web. 27 July 2017.