‘World class OEE’ fixation, and its harm

The ‘World class OEE’ trap in manufacturing

Does obsessing about ‘World class OEE’ make sense ? A big mistake a lot of organizations make is to fixate on OEE as an absolute value, and set a ‘Pass or Fail’ number, like in a school exam. They set an arbitrary number and strive desperately to achieve this number. The striving desperately will of course involve cooking up numbers to suit the target. Once they achieve the target OEE number, they think their job is done, and sit back and relax.

Setting a Pass or Fail target OEE number like World Class OEE is pointless, and results in cooked up numbers.

World Class OEE is generally accepted to be 85 %. The roots of this number are in mass production, in the automotive industry. To achieve this, you would need these numbers for Availability, Performance and Quality:
A = 90 % (10 % downtime between cycles)
P = 95 % (5 % downtime within cycles)
Q = 99 % (1 % part rejection)

If yours is not a mass production industry, it is going to be very difficult to achieve this number. In mass production the process is set, tooling is fine tuned to a single part, there is no downtime for setup change, and various other downtimes can be minimized by daily analysis and fine tuning of the process and equipment. In small batch production your production batch sizes are small, frequent setup changes add hugely to the downtime, and the process, tooling and machines are not fine tuned to any of the parts that you are making.

In small batch production, OEEs between 50 % and 60 % are typical. Within a single organization itself, multiple plants or cells could be doing different types of parts, some mass production and some small batch production. How then will you set a single OEE target for these widely different types of production ?

Don’t be obsessed with the absolute value of your OEE. Instead, use it as a measure of productivity that needs to be improved, month on month. It could be just 40 % now, but the point is to increase it steadily, by say 2 % every month. Set a target for periodic improvement, not an absolute value.

OEE is not a Pass or Fail number. It is a mirror that shows you how efficiently you are using your resources and investment. Just look in the mirror every day, and fix your productivity issues.


Biryani and Pulao – what’s the difference ?

The word Biryani is derived from the Persian word ‘Birian’. In Persian, Birian means ‘Fried before Cooking’. Meat (or vegetables) is fried in ghee and half-cooked. Separately, rice is fried in Ghee and half-cooked. The rice and meat are layered in a vessel called a Handi. You can see the layers in the vessel, and the different layers are visible and have a different taste when served.

Biryani – in the Handi and on the plate

Pulao is from the Persian word Pilaf. Rice is browned in oil, and separately, meat (or veg) is fried in Ghee and cooked with aromatic spices in water. The rice and this broth are mixed together and cooked. The pulao is a homogenous mixture when cooking, and looks and tastes homogeous when served.

Pulao – vegetarian and meat-based

The difference between biryani and pulao is in the LAYERS. Biryani has layers, while pulao does not. So Biryani is multi-dimensional and more interesting as you eat it.

I first learnt this about this difference about 10 years ago, in a restaurant in Bangalore called Biryani Merchant (no longer in existence, sadly). They served 3 different types of biryani on any given day (out of the 10-odd types in India). India has a large variety of Biryanis: Lucknow, Hyderabadi, Kashmiri, Ambur, Kolkata, Bohri, Calicut, Tahiri (this is a vegetarian biryani). There was a leaflet on each table educating you about biryani. The menu was fixed, and you paid a fixed amount, ate as much as you could.

Way back then, as a young lad of 45 I could put away vast quantities of food. Owners of ‘eat-all-you-can’ establishments used to shiver as I walked in, thinking of the damage I was about to do to their balance sheet.

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

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