Can OEE be Used to Reduce Operating Cost?

OEE or Overall Equipment Effectiveness measures manufacturing performance against perfection. It is regarded as the global benchmark for managing and improving manufacturing efficiency. Any deviation from perfection drives up operating cost. OEE looks at three different losses and multiplies them across to assess total losses. Those losses are:

Availability – This is a measure of downtime (both planned and unplanned)

Throughput – This measures rate loss against the theoretical maximum run rate

Yield – This measures the amount of efficiency lost due to quality issues

Each of these factors has a cost impact. There are measurable financial and other costs associated with having people at work, the lights on, and machines operating. Anytime these things are happening and you aren’t producing at theoretical maximum levels, you are suffering efficiency and financial losses. Most factories are operating at or below 60% OEE but have no idea. Additionally, most factories do not measure productivity, and many who do, use methods that exclude significant losses such as changeover times, start-ups, throughput loss and many others. Again, anytime you have people on the clock and product yet to be made, anything less than the theoretical max output is a loss…for whatever reason – controllable or uncontrollable. At the end of the day, all aspects of running your business are controllable; the only real question is: are you willing to do what it takes to “fix” something that is perceived as “uncontrollable”. I’ve worked with manufacturers who, for years, wrote off “bad raw material” as uncontrollable but have never talked with the supplier about fixing the problem or investigated sourcing with other suppliers. In almost all cases, uncontrollable is synonymous for “we don’t want to deal with it”.

The Logic

For a factory with a direct operating cost of $10M annually and an OEE of 60%, the total efficiency losses are 40%. Therefore 40% of the direct operating costs are also losses, or $4M in this case. At 100% efficiency, the operating cost would be $6M.

World-class execution is 85% OEE, which equates to a direct operating cost of $8.5M in the example above. For the same factory, there is a $2.5M savings opportunity for improving from 60% to 85% OEE. What would you do with an extra $2.5M dollars per year? Expand production? Pay bonuses? Acquire a new business? Buy a small yacht and sail around the world?

Achieving 85% OEE is challenging but attainable for the vast majority of manufacturers. Click the link below to receive a free report on how much savings opportunity you might have based on your direct operating costs and efficiency performance:

My Total Savings Opportunity

If you don’t know your OEE, we can get you up in going on Impruver in less than a month. It will help you track OEE by product, line, shift, team, and even individual. It’s a great tool for highlighting exactly where to focus improvement efforts. For the sake of the tool mentioned in the above link, input 60% as a reference point and see what you get for a savings opportunity if you’re unsure of your current OEE.



The 8 Lean Wastes and Their Potentially Disastrous Effects – Non-utilized Talent & Ideas

Final Launch of Challenger
The Space Shuttle Challenger lifts off Pad 39B at Kennedy Space Center, Florida, at 11:38 a.m., EST, January 28, 1986. The entire crew of seven was lost in the explosion 73 seconds into the launch. (AP Photo/NASA)

Non-utilized Talent & Ideas – all talent, ideas, and capabilities that are not effectively applied to facilitate execution. In this series titled “The 8 Lean Wastes and Their Potentially Disastrous Effects”, we examine case studies for when companies, government organizations, or entire industries have allowed a specific type of waste to escalate to a disastrous effect. In this post, we review the waste of Non-utilized Talent & Ideas to better understand what causes it, how to see it, and how to eliminate it. defines Non-utilized Talent & Ideas as “the concept that employees are not being utilized to their full capability or, conversely that they are engaged in tasks that would be more efficiently done by someone else. Non-Utilized Talent is one of the 8 Wastes which is also known as the waste of intellectual capital.”

Jump to:

The 8 Wastes and Their Potentially Disastrous Effects:

Defects | Overproduction | Waiting | Non-utilized Talent & Ideas | Transportation | Inventory | MotionExcessive Processing

Case Study:

On a particularly cool day in Cape Canaveral, FL in 1986, the Space Shuttle Challenger was scheduled to launch. A few days before the launch, the team of the engineers who were working on the mission had advised the program’s management team that launching at 30 degrees would be very risky. The data that they had collected on the wax-based O-ring performance showed that significant integrity was lost under lower temperatures. The management team decided to launch anyway despite the warning of their engineers and the result was catastrophic. 73 seconds into the space shuttle’s flight, the O-rings failed and it exploded in mid-air. The price tag on this disastrous decision was 7 lives (one of which was supposed to be the first teacher in space) and about $1.5B including the flight mission, search and recovery, and the investigation.

NPR recently did a great story on Bob Ebeling, the engineer who came forward (risking his career) and tried to warn NASA of the danger associated with this launch. You can find the podcast at the link below:

NPR Story on Bob Ebeling

Corrective Action:

In response to this tragic incident, NASA re-designed the O-ring joints and implement an astronaut bail-out system in later space shuttle models. Evidence reveals that some of the passengers may have survived the explosion, until the shuttle crashed with the ocean after descent. Thus, lives may have been spared by allowing the astronauts to “bail out” prior to coming in contact with the earth.

Interesting Fact:

After the Challenger explosion, there were several changes put in place to prevent this type of issue from reoccurring. Unfortunately, many of these changes did not sustain in operation. In 2003, the Space Shuttle Columbia also exploded soon after launch, ending the lives of 7 more astronauts. The Columbia explosion occurred for reasons that would have been prevented by the changes that were put in place after the Challenger mission. This highlights the importance of operational discipline and ensuring that improvements are sustained.

For more details on this case study, check out the Wikipedia article at the following link:

Non-utilized Talent & Ideas is possibly the most abundant type of waste. It is the only one of the 8 wastes that is not directly a process waste but one of managment or intellectual capital. It is often caused by destructive internal politics and a general lack of respect for people. This type of waste is greatly reduced by practicing a true meritocracy; promoting highly competent people and systematically vetting improvement ideas, regardless of their source. I’ve created and used several great Idea Management and Execution Systems, all of which include regular idea review schedules, rigorous idea vetting, excellent feedback and communication loops, and incentives for submitting or executing improvement projects.

Impruver also helps you see waste from non-utilized talent & ideas in the form of lost efficiency. In Impruver, this type of waste could either show up as downtime, rate, or yield losses. The great thing about Impruver is that it promotes a culture of getting better everyday by highlighting personal bests, record breaking weeks, raising the bar (outperforming the standard) and other great achievements. This motivates your team to most effectively apply their talent and ideas to drive manufacturing execution.



Copyright © Calvin L Williams blog at [2015]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Calvin L Williams with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The 8 Lean Wastes and Their Potentially Disastrous Effects – Overproduction

Manuficient - Overproduction (PEPCON)

Overproduction – the act of making more of something than is immediately required. In this series titled “The 8 Lean Wastes and Their Potentially Disastrous Effects”, we examine a case study for when companies, government organizations, or entire industries have allowed a specific type of waste to escalate to a disastrous effect. In this post, we review the waste of Overproduction to understand what causes it, how to see it, and how to eliminate it. Wikipedia defines overproduction as “excess of supply over demand of products being offered to the market. This leads to lower prices and/or unsold goods along with the possibility of unemployment.”

Jump to:

The 8 Wastes and Their Potentially Disastrous Effects:

Defects | Overproduction | Waiting | Non-utilized Talent & Ideas | Transportation | Inventory | MotionExcessive Processing

Case Study:

In 1988, chemical manufacturing company PEPCON, located in Hersonson, NV experienced a massive explosion of 4,500 metric tons of Ammonium Perchlorate (AP). The facility was producing AP, which is used as an oxidizer in rocket fuel, for the Challenger Space Program. In 1986 the Challenger Program was suspended after the space craft exploded in mid-air only 72 seconds after launch. PEPCON decided to continue production of AP even though there was no longer a demand for it as a way to sustain production capability without inflating costs. The company assumed that they might be able to sell the excess AP to other government programs or to the Challenger Program if it were to ever come back online. They stored the excess product in containers in a parking lot near the production facility. Finally, one of the containers containing the AP ignited and the entire highly-combustive lot went up in smoke. The explosion cause catastrophic damage, destroying the PEPCON factory and other nearby factories and residential property.

The explosion resulted in 2 deaths and and 372 injuries. It also created about $100M in related damages.

Corrective Action:

In response to this incident, the Nevada legislature passed the Chemical Catastrophe Prevention Act in 1991, and later the Chemical Accident Prevention Program.

Interesting Fact:

4,500 metric tons of this product and others were being stored on site at the time of the explosion in aluminum, HDPE, and steel drums. The blast range of the explosion was a 10 mile radius. The actual cause of the fire was never officially determined.

For more details on this case study, check out the Wikipedia article at the following link:


Overproduction is one of the most dangerous types of lean waste because it enables all other forms of waste to occur. When factories overproduce, they create buffers that allow the manufacturing process to become disjointed from the subsequent elements of the supply chain. This enables process waste to fester in the manufacturing stage because problems in the production process have little to no effect in the company’s ability to satisfy customer demand. This buffer removes the “pain” of poor production execution and the factory loses the discipline required for true operational excellence.

There are management tools that can help to minimize the detrimental effects of overproduction and provide the foundation for increasing operational discipline. OEE is one great example for how to measure productivity so that overproduction can be eliminated and the factory can transition to more of an on-demand operation with minimal finished inventory. Impruver is a fantastic tool for implementing OEE that also drives a grassroots culture of getting better everyday.



Copyright © Calvin L Williams blog at [2015]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Calvin L Williams with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

How to Do a Stress Free Lean Implementation

Manuficient - Top Performers

Lean is said to be the “Machine that Changed the World,” which a fantastic book written by Jim Womack, Dan Jones and Daniel Roos. According to Wikipedia, “Lean manufacturing or lean production, often simply “lean“, is a systematic method for the elimination of waste (“Muda“) within a manufacturing system.” We are now learning that Lean has applicability across far more industries than just manufacturing such as healthcare, finance, education, and many others. However, implementing lean has been a major challenge for business leaders across all sectors, including manufacturing. A study released by McKinsey stated that “70% of Continuous Improvement initiatives fail”. This is a striking statistic considering how popular Lean and other Continuous Improvement initiatives are.

If you go into any of those factories where Lean has failed (and even some where it has succeeded), you’ll quickly find that it generally leaves a bad taste in people’s mouths. Be it because some companies have gutted workforces and administrative jobs under the guise of Lean or that people had to give up things that they held sacred in the name of cutting waste…many people harbor a disdain for Lean. How did an initiative designed to improve product and process quality turn into such a reviled and despised creature?

In conducting and studying many examples of Lean implementations I’ve determined that three key ingredients are needed for success. Those ingredients are:

  1. Technical Expertise. Lean isn’t that hard to learn but somebody needs to know what they’re doing in the beginning at least. This could be an inside or outside person or group. Eventually, everyone needs a strong lean competency and it needs to become a requirement for staying with the company or getting promoted
  2. Commitment. Leaders need to visibly show their commitment and make decision consistent with a Lean culture.
  3. Motivation. If the people at the top or bottom don’t want to do it – it won’t happen. A Lean implementation requires substantial changes in behaviors, the slaughter of sacred cows, and debilitating power struggles. It’s not easy for anybody.

In all reality, the last item trumps the previous two. Let’s face it, people will eventually do what they’re motivated to do as long as management gets the heck out of the way. Do you really need an engineering degree to do 5S or make a few changes to reduce waste and inefficiency? The answer is no. So …the easy way to implement Lean is by pairing the implementation with things people are motivated to do such as:

  • Look good in front of their bosses and peers
  • Get recognized for a job well done
  • Compete and win
  • Have input on the way things are done
  • Prove themselves by getting results
  • Be judged fairly
  • Help others
  • Be a valued contributor to the business
  • Remain gainfully employed
  • …the list goes on and on.

So, to implement Lean, you need to motivate people to eliminate waste and be more efficienct; then give them the tools and support to do what they will be super-motivated to do. To do this, follow these steps:

Step 1Implement OEE. This will tell you and everyone else exactly how much efficiency loss you have, what types of losses you have, and where the biggest opportunities for improvement exist, etc. OEE will serve as your scoreboard for how good everybody actually and undoubtably is. It also puts everyone on the same playing field in terms of measuring productivity. [Week 1 – 8 but continue tracking perpetually]

Step 2Start highlighting success stories for people doing things better. Share Personal Records, Record Breaking Weeks for the team, Best-Practices, Top Performers for the Day or Week, and so on. This will create a culture that feels like winning…and send a message that winning means getting better, which means…increasing efficiencies. All of a sudden, getting better is starting to feel “good” and perhaps even “fun and exciting”. [Week 6 – 15 but continue into perpetuity]

Step 3Provide a continuous stream of tools and techniques for getting better. Teach people root cause analysis, value stream mapping, SMED, kaizen events and anything else they are clamoring to know by this point in the process. You should also consider taking engineers, managers, and key personnel to other factories who have a really good Lean program so they can benchmark ideas. These factories love to show off the great work they’ve done to implement what a vast majority of companies struggle with. [Week 10 on]

That’s it. Pretty easy right? Well there are always varying levels of depth and complexity of tools that can be applied but you can cross those bridges when you get to them. It’s important to follow these three steps in sequence and allow time for each step to take hold in the organization. Most companies try to implement lean by doing step 3 and then step 1 or they just start of with a massive cutting of headcount. Implementing OEE is not as easy as this article makes it sound and neither are the other 2 steps. Fortunately there’s a tool that virtually automates the first 2 (and most difficult) steps called the Factory Operating System (fOS) at This is the best tool out there for implementing Lean or any other Continuous Improvement initiative. In this system, calculating and tracking OEE requires less than a minute per production run to input data and it spits out OEE by line, shift, person, team, product, timeframe, or any other way you want to slice it. It also highlights top performers, record breaking weeks, personal records, and other success stories across your operations chain of command. It’s super-powerful and it’s free, which makes it really great!

Implementing Lean can be a great step toward reducing operating costs, increasing capacity, reducing lead time, improving product quality among many other wonderful things. Don’t make the mistakes most companies make by failing to motivate your people before slamming them with tools, jargon, and complex ideas that will just scare them away. Let the motivation come first, then they will be a) creating their own tools and b) asking you for more tools and techniques to get their systems to operate more efficiently. This way you create a demand for Lean instead of pushing it on people and creating a painful experience for everyone that probably won’t even sustain results. A manufacturing efficiency expert such as those at Manuficient can help you to implement Lean in a non-abrasive way that systematically encourages your people to do better everyday.

fOS Lead Capture2PPM Lead Capture2

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Copyright © Calvin L Williams blog at [2015]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Calvin L Williams with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

How to Implement OEE in One Day

Manuficient - Excellence Compass

OEE (or Overall Equipment Effectiveness) is the ultimate tool for measuring and eliminating process waste. Wikipedia defines it as “a hierarchy of metrics developed by Seiichi Nakajima[1] in the 1960s to evaluate how effectively a manufacturing operation is utilized.” OEE combined with rigorous process improvement efforts can drive significant cost savings, reduce stress of daily operations, and increase manufacturing capacity. Simply put, you’re not doing Continuous Improvement or Lean if you’re not using OEE. The metric itself is taken by multiplying Availability (%) x Rate Attainment (%) x Yield Attainment (%).

To implement OEE effectively, you need to track each of these indicators on a continuous basis and perform the OEE calculation for a line, shift, factory, or entire manufacturing network on the interval that you see fit. Here are a few steps to implement OEE:

  1. Capture the % Availability. This is the efficiency lost while the line is not in operation (but the labor force is on the clock). Create a spreadsheet that allows line operators to input the time it takes to start up the line (from clock-in to steady state). Also capture other planned downtimes such as changeovers and shutdown times. Finally, capture each unplanned downtime loss as well.
  2. Capture the % Yield Attainment. This is a measure of the efficiency lost due to producing sub-par quality product. This calculation is done simply by taking the total good units produced divided by the total units produced.
  3. Capture % Rate Attainment. This is essentially the efficiency lost while running less than the maximum possible run rate. To capture this this, develop maximum theoretical run rates for each product on each production line. This should be done by an Industrial Engineer or trained professional. If you don’t have one on staff, you can contract someone to do it or use what I call the maximum empirically demonstrated rate, which is the fastest rate the line has demonstrated in it’s history for the given product. From there, track your total throughput and divide by your theoretical max rate to get your % total losses. Then subtract out % Availability and % Yield Losses. The remaining losses are rate losses.

Then multiply the three indicators across and the result is your OEE, which is a measure of perfection. 100% OEE represents zero efficiency losses. Once you have began tracking these metrics on an ongoing basis, you can aggregate this data to calculate your OEE anytime you want. The more frequently you can report this information, the more actionable the metric is for you. You certainly don’t want to wait weeks or months to find out there is a serious problem; but daily reporting is usually sufficient. Reporting by shift is even better.

With all of that said, the best way I’ve seen to implement OEE is a tool called Impruver at It’s the best free tool out there and it calculates and reports OEE for you by product, line, shift, and even team or individual team members. You could simply have your operators enter each production run into the system and the tool does the rest. It takes less than a minute to enter a production run. It even sets your theoretical max rates for you based on your best demonstrated rate. Then it updates the standard automatically when a run is entered that exceeds the previously established rate. In other words, you don’t have to set or update production standards – the tool does it all for you. It’s great!


OEE is the benchmark for measuring factory performance and can be used across all industries to highlight areas that can be made more efficient. It’s a metric that can be used to drive substantial cost savings along with targeted process improvements.

Copyright © Calvin L Williams blog at [2015]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Calvin L Williams with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Why Lean Can’t Succeed Without Operational Discipline

Manuficient Consulting - Bullseye


Managing people and building the perfect manufacturing system are works of art. There are an unlimited amount ways to effectively get the desired result – being the perfect system and its flawless execution. However, manufacturing itself is an exact science; it is not an art. There exists one-right-way (ORW) of doing every single thing needed to execute the core functions of a factory. There is no need to re-engineer and execute a new process for each individual unit of production. This is immensely inefficient. In the absence of work standards, you are likely doing some version of this. The ORW minimizes cost and safety risk while maximizing service, quality, and morale. The essential job function of a front line supervisor or manager is to a) determine the ORW for all required actions needed for executing operations and b) ensure that everyone is doing it every time. This is why the world needs front line supervisors / managers. The supervisor’s effectiveness can be measured in terms of the number of deviations from the ORW of their direct employees. In other words, the manager’s performance can be primarily measured in terms of operational discipline, or the consistency of actions in which operations are executed. In an ideal state, one would possess the capability to evaluate the exact actions of every person / machine in the production process to ensure strict compliance to standard procedures. Since this is not practical in today’s world, we usually only evaluate compliance to standards after there has been a significant failure; sometimes resulting in some poor soul’s chastising or even worse, public shaming and/or termination. Many companies have turned to (or are turning to) Lean manufacturing to develop the operational discipline needed for operational excellence.

If you break down Lean Manufacturing into it’s two base components, what you are left with is:

1) Industrial Engineering – This is the process of designing and implementing the perfect manufacturing system. It requires understanding the expected outputs of the system and making the changes needed to minimize cost and safety risk while maximizing service, quality, and morale. The key aspect here is making changes to the system. Lean manufacturing applies many IE techniques that happened to be developed in Japan, such as kaizen, poke-a-yoke, 5S and others. Although IE techniques vary in degree of complexity, just about all of them can be taught to a person of average intelligence within a few days or so. The creators of TPS and Lean have done an amazing job of simplifying the discipline of IE for the common factory worker to understand and employ. Significant improvements in manufacturing efficiency can be gained with just a base level competency in IE. The more involved tools and methods are typically highly specialized for a given situation and result in marginal additional improvement. (This excludes the equipment / plant design aspects of IE, which can be highly technical as well).

2) Operational Discipline – This is the systematic and consistent execution of necessary actions. As stated above, this responsibility falls within the core job function of a front-line supervisor / manager. This does not require an Industrial Engineer, Lean expert, consultant, or other specialized technical background. This just requires good managers; being those who are highly disciplined and consistent as well. Managers are typically empowered with all the tools and resources needed to control their employees’ behaviors such as performance reviews (for career advancement), incentive programs including bonuses and pay increases, and others. Many companies launch Lean initiatives believing that Lean will automatically create operational discipline. This is not exactly true. Although Lean can help design and implement systems that help drive operational discipline, Lean itself cannot make the administrators of the Lean system more disciplined. Only effective leadership can ensure or increase discipline. Lean is not a substitute for leadership.

This brings me to the main point of my post. Your Lean initiative cannot succeed without sufficient operational discipline. Lean is a system; but all systems need competent and disciplined administrators. As a manufacturing leader, you don’t need Lean to develop competent and disciplined managers, supervisors, or shop-floor employees. You don’t need a Lean practitioner or Industrial Engineer to establish Standard Operating Procedures and ensure everyone is following those procedures without deviation. These are manufacturing fundamentals that help you get the most out of a Lean expert or IE should you choose to consult / employ them. It’s like saying that your basketball team of 6-year-old’s is struggling because they need more advanced plays. In actuality, they would dominate just by boxing out on rebounds, minimizing turnovers, moving their feet on defense, and making their layups (This was also true for my adult men’s league team so it’s something I’m quite passionate about). With that said, your Lean / IE / Consultant can help to accelerate your CI journey by applying industry best-practices and proven techniques for improving performance. However, if you find that your Lean initiatives aren’t sustaining, then maybe you’re not ready for Lean. You may want to take a step back and figure out how to increase operational discipline.