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Unplanned downtime results in direct and indirect costs that can greatly impact manufacturing productivity and profitability. Yet, companies can be proactive and take four critical steps to minimize unplanned downtime and improve the Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) of operations including: designing and configuring the line to meet quality and output requirements; selecting the right equipment for the application; maintaining the equipment properly during its lifecycle; and clearly defining measures and processes to continuously improve the operation of the equipment. Benchmarking performance is essential to advancing an organization’s operations and determining existing and potential issues. In lean manufacturing, root cause countermeasure tools assist companies in identifying and analyzing problems leading to effective solutions, often referred to as the Problem Solving (PS) method.
Videojet Technologies Inc. (www.videojet.com), a world-leading manufacturer of coding, printing and laser marking products, fluids and accessories for the product identification industry, outlines the problem solving basics:
- Define the Problem: Correctly identifying the problem helps to avoid confusion between the problem, the symptoms and the presumed causes of the problem. It is necessary to articulate the true problem and determine if the gap is from a caused or created problem, driving rationale to solve the problem.
- Investigate to Drive to Root Cause: Identifying the source of the issue to narrow the focus to three causes is the best way for companies to develop clear boundaries. A proper path to root causes begins at Point of Recognition (POR) to Point of Occurrence (POO) and, ultimately, to Point of Cause (POC). Once the causes have been identified, it is recommended to ask the “Five Whys” – simply asking “why” at least five times – to eventually gather evidence and facts. To remain efficient, a step-by-step approach like the Pareto method – 80% of a problem’s impacts result from only 20% of its causes – can help determine root causes of all type of problems
- Verify and Implement: Once the root cause has been identified it is easier to propose and implement countermeasures. Companies should evaluate each possible countermeasure then test them to validate effectiveness.
- Ensure Sustainment: Once an effective countermeasure has been identified, an owner, who remains responsible for continued improvement and who will measure the results at the source, should keep evaluating the countermeasures on a daily or weekly basis. Every sustainment activity should have an owner, a formal process for data measurement and reporting, and resources allocated to ensure timely evaluation and improvement.
To maximize OEE, companies need to adopt clearly defined measures and processes for continuous improvement and enhanced performance of equipment and operations. Effective problem solving requires strong leadership, teamwork and follow-through with countermeasures. A focused and methodical approach helps organizations narrow the focus to root causes, determine the critical root causes that need addressing, correlate each cause to impacts and their relative severity and identify the causes that can be corrected quickly with the greatest benefits. Prevention, however, is the best countermeasure to any unplanned downtime.
Videojet printers offer customers the ability to increase productivity with unique and efficient tools that present downtime information in a logical way. The Videojet 1550, 1650 and 1650 UHS continuous ink jet printers feature innovative tools and capabilities that help measure OEE, including Availability metrics that provide data to discover root causes of unplanned downtime. The information is displayed on Videojet’s CLARiTY™ interface so operators can quickly identify the issue and implement sustainable process improvements.