Manufacturing Techniques for Improved OEE

What Is Perfect Production?

We coined the term Perfect Production from the goal of achieving a perfect OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness) score. In other words, Perfect Production is manufacturing only good parts, as fast as possible, with no down time.

Turns out — the pursuit of Perfect Production is a very challenging endeavor (to put it mildly). So we aim to make it easier. Much easier.

Our manufacturing techniques offer a completely modular approach that draws on best practices from the entire world of manufacturing — lean production, theory of constraints, six sigma, and many other sources. It also draws significantly from the world of coaching, leadership, and self-development.

Lean Manufacturing Techniques

Our goal is to make it exceptionally easy for you to improve manufacturing productivity. With that in mind, this page presents best practices for working towards Perfect Production. These best practices share four core characteristics:

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We emphasize approaches that are easy to understand and easy to implement. Even complex techniques can be made more accessible.

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We are realistic about what is within the reach of most teams to accomplish and the resource limitations that we all face (time and money).

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We don't tie ourselves down to any one process or framework. Instead, we collect and leverage proven techniques regardless of their source.

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People like you play a critical role in creating sustainable long-term change. That's why we cover topics like leadership and coaching.

There are three types of techniques ranging from specific manufacturing improvement tools, through to broad leadership strategies:

ToolsBest practices for identifying and eliminating waste in manufacturing. These best practices are drawn from a wide range of methodologies, including Lean Manufacturing, Six Sigma, and the Theory of Constraints.
AccelerantsBest practices for accelerating progress. They are broad in scope and add value to many tools. XL Accelerants are often drawn from the world of coaching, leadership, and self-development. The overarching goal is to teach, motivate, and inspire people to become powerful change agents for improvement. Many techniques for building sustainable processes fall in this category.
Silver BulletsThe very best techniques for achieving quick wins and fast progress. They are packaged combinations of XL Tools and Accelerants that are proven to deliver fast and substantive results. Silver Bullets are a great place to start improvement programs.


Downtime Reduction Strategies

10 practical tips for reducing Downtime.

Downtime is the largest source of lost production time for most manufacturers. Here are some practical tips for reducing Downtime that don't require a lot of outside support.

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Table explaining capacity losses, the Six Big Losses, and Perfect Production.

Improve the Production Constraint

Identify. Measure. Improve.

Each manufacturing process has a constraint (bottleneck). Focusing improvement efforts on the production constraint is the fastest path to improved productivity.

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Screenshot of an Improve the ProductionConstraint pdf learning tool.

Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE)

A yardstick for manufacturing productivity.

OEE measures how close you are to Perfect Production (manufacturing only good parts, as fast as possible, with no down time). It is a great metric for benchmarking progress in improving manufacturing productivity (i.e., eliminating waste).

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Bar chart showing a breakdown of All Time down to Fully Productive Time.

Single-Minute Exchange of Die (SMED)

Reduce changeovers to under 10 minutes.

Changeover times can typically be reduced to less than 10 minutes (i.e., single-digit minutes). Analyze each element of the changeover to see if it can be separated (moved external to the changeover), converted (modified to be external), or streamlined.

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Bar chart showing that by enacting SMED, you can streamline your process to reduce changeover times.

Six Big Losses

An excellent target for improvement actions.

The Six Big Losses are a very effective way to categorize equipment-based losses: Unplanned Stops, Planned Stops, Small Stops, Slow Cycles, Production Defects, and Startup Defects. They are aligned with OEE and provide an excellent target for improvement actions.

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Table showing the relationship between OEE factors and the Six Big Losses.

Structured Improvement

Strategic. Tactical. Operational.

Deliver superior results by defining an improvement objective, capturing information related to that objective, and using that information in connected meetings (strategic, tactical, and operational) to drive decisions and actions.

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Infographic showing the IDA equation and tactics for achieving each step of the equation.


Agile Planning in Manufacturing

Small tasks. Big focus. Get things done.

Deliver small chunks of business value in short release cycles. For each cycle, choose whatever will deliver the most value and get it done. Do away with complicated master plans and be evolutionary and adaptive.

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Nested circles showing the Agile Planning Levels from vision to day.

Be Your Best

Be Inspired. Do Great Work. Change the World.

Select a small number of truly important things and do those things exceptionally well. Challenge yourself to achieve more, perhaps much more, and show up to work every day as your best self.

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Illustration of someone walking from an area of comort towards stretching themself.

How to Run Great Meetings

Decisions. Actions. Change.

Spend less time in meetings while dramatically increasing their value. Great Meetings are organized, focused, fast, positive, participative, and proactive. Participants come prepared and leave energized. Great Meetings result in decisions and action.

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Word cloud with bad meeting attributes in red and good meeting attributes in green.

IDA (Information, Decision, Action)

An important way to improve results.

Most companies place too much emphasis on results (looking backward) and too little emphasis on the factors that drive results: Information (the basis for effective decisions), Decision (making effective decisions), and Action (transforming decisions to results).

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The IDA Model: Information times Decision times Action equals Results.

Leadership in Manufacturing Operations

Inspire others and accelerate change.

Inspire others to do their best work and you leverage your most important resource – people. Leadership is a learned skill. Improve your effectiveness as a leader and you improve your ability to create and accelerate change.

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Table emphasizing that to be an effective leader, you need to be able to let go of control and give others responsibility.

Silver Bullets

Short Interval Control (SIC)

Small actions add up to large improvements.

Quick and focused reviews of performance data during the shift enable ongoing course corrections and small-scale fixes that collectively result in significant improvements in performance. Look at the immediate past to guide actions for the immediate future.

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Diagram showing that during your current SIC meeting, you should look back at your past meeting and forward toward your next meeting.

Top Losses and Production Loss Analysis

Attack your top sources of lost production.

Time is precious, so spend that time fixing the most important things — your top sources of lost manufacturing productivity. Track your Top Losses. Pick the biggest actionable loss. Fix it. Repeat.

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Top Losses Report with KPIs at the top and a table with your top 5 losses ranked by lost time underneath.