OEE improvement – low hanging fruit

OEE improvement – tackle the low hanging fruit first

You have two types of machine downtime on the shop floor – the low hanging fruit that can be plucked easily, and the high hanging fruit that require some time and money to pluck. The low hanging fruit is downtime caused by poor work ethics, while the high hanging fruit is system and process issues (that’s a litchi tree in the picture, by the way). In your OEE improvement plan, ensure that you minimize the downtime due to work ethics issues first.

Your OEE improvement plan must focus on reducing downtime due to work ethics issues as the first step.
Machine downtime due to poor work ethics – the low hanging fruit

To reduce downtime, attack the low hanging fruit first. Examples:
1. Operator starts the machine late at the shift start. E.g., shift starts at 6 AM, machine starts at 6:30 AM. 
2. Lunch and tea breaks extend beyond the allotted time.
3. When there’s a machine breakdown, the maintenance guy arrives happily after half an hour.
4. Operator stops the machine early at the shift end. E.g., shift ends at 2 PM, machine stops at 1:45 PM.
5. Machine works for the first half of the night shift, the operator then sleeps for the rest of the shift.

Let’s say your shop is working 22 hours a day in 3 shifts (minus the lunch and tea breaks). Downtimes 1 to 4 above can add up to 1 hour per shift on a lot of shop floors – that’s a massive 13 % of available time, accounting for 13 % reduction in OEE. Downtime 5 alone is 18 %. Your low hanging fruit here is between 13 % and 31 %. If you eliminate this, it can do wonders for your profitability. If you are in the 31 % bracket (a surprisingly large numbers of shops are), these are your possible benefits if you cut this downtime to zero:
1. Do the same production in 2 shifts instead of 3. Reduce the number of operators, supervisors, energy cost for running machines, lighting, etc., reduced canteen bills for food in the night shift.
2. Do the same production with 69 % of the machines. Reduce , space, operators, supervisors, energy cost.
3. Increase your revenue by 29 % with the same number of machines.

See real life examples in these blog posts:
Reduce night shift downtime
Reduce downtimes at shift change

To pluck this low hanging fruit, all you have to do is invest in an Industry 4.0 system that tells you when each machine is running, when it is idle, the production quantity, etc. Once such a system is in place, people automatically fall in line without you having to tell them anything. I have seen this happening in just 2 weeks after installing our LEANworks Industry 4.0 system. LEANworx has reports that highlight downtimes at shift changes and in the night shift. We just recommend to our users that they print these reports and put them on the shop notice board each day. The poor work ethics vanishes automatically, without anyone having to talk to or reprimand anybody.

LEANworx of course has a variety of other features to improve your profits, and is a great tool for OEE improvement. That is why its tag line is ‘Discover hidden profits’.


Speaking of low hanging fruit and litchis…

Did you know that Muzaffarpur, in Bihar, is India’s litchi (also spelt lychee) capital ? 75 percent of India’s litchi production is from Bihar, and most of this again is from Muzaffarpur (not to be confused with Muzaffarnagar, which is in UP). India is the second largest producer of litchis in the world, after China. Muzaffarpur is Bihar’s largest city and is named after Muzaffar Khan, an Amil (Revenue Officer) in the British Raj in the 18th century. The National Research Centre on Litchi, quite appropriately, is based in the city.

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My home in Bangalore has a rather unhappy litchi tree that yields about 50 fruits every summer, instead of the thousands that the ones in Muzaffarpur do. No idea why it’s unhappy – doesn’t like the weather, doesn’t like the pollution, wants to go back to its home town in Bihar, who knows ? The tragedy is not that there are just 50 fruits. The tragedy is that even these are eaten up by monkeys and squirrels, and we haven’t eaten a single one of them, ever.

This guy in the picture was polishing off the crop last summer with a pensive look on his face, from our tree that is just a few feet away from a balcony in the living room. We kind of coexist with the monkeys – we let them eat our litchis and mangoes, in return for the joy of watching their antics.

About his blog from LEANworx: Plug-and-play Industry 4.0 system for MSMEs.

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