Is your plant as smart as you are?

Michael Azevedo, Director of Automation, ESCO Group/Enterprise Solutions

What if a world existed, where you could easily review production data, quality data, planned versus unplanned downtime all in one place, readily at your fingertips? It does… read on.


Does the following sound familiar?

You come in early every morning, anxious to see how the overnight shifts performed. You settle into your comfy desk chair with your daily dose of caffeine. You dig through your inbox to find the shift reports from your production supervisors. Looking at the numbers, it looks like the lines ran well enough, maybe making rate on some hours and missing them on others. Based on what little information is in front of you, it’s not really clear if you have an issue. Question, If you do have an issue, can you really be sure where it is coming from?

Now you find the dutifully submitted quality reports from your Quality department. All the lines ran and churned out a lot of product, but not all of it was first class, first pass product (the stuff you get paid for). Every single unit produced is accounted for and falls neatly into one of the predefined categories that indicate the level of quality, or lack thereof, of your product. You review the reasons for all the rejects, piecing together a story in your mind. Recalling yesterday’s reports, you consider that maybe you had some of the same issues, and maybe you had some new ones too. You jot down a note for some things that your team should check, in the hopes that the next shift will see improvement. You quickly calculate the percentage of rejects in your head to arrive at a percentage that represents quality product from total product produced. You mentally compare that percentage to the “norm” and determine that it is “about in line” with what you have been running. Maybe a little better, maybe not so much, but in the ballpark nevertheless.

If you are one of those capable excel gurus, you probably have an excel spreadsheet full of wizardry that tracks all your production and quality data, by simply inputting the correct data in the right spots. Filled with macros, pivot charts and tables and maybe even some slicers and sparklines.  You enter all the data from the shift reports and quality reports, hit the magic go button and “BAM,” you now have a report that you can analyze… well sort of. What if you had a changeover last night? Surely you accounted for that in your magic “production report,” right? What if you fat-fingered a number while inputting all the data? That’s going to throw things off. Little things like that will skew your numbers, and if you are comparing these numbers to a hypothetical “best case” number bouncing around in your head, based on the perfect situation, how can you be sure it’s right? Is it a good comparison? Is it accurate? If this sounds familiar, STOP….

Don’t make bad decisions based on bad data. Remember, bad data is worse than no data.

Now… time to dig into the maintenance reports that are smudged with last night’s dirty hands. You carefully analyze the downtime, rationalize the numbers in your head based on any breakdowns, and determine that the downtime seems reasonable and your production reports probably make sense (IE: lost 2 hours for a drive fault, production is short by about two-ish hours, kind of makes sense). You review any recommended corrective actions, try to determine a window for planned downtime and ready yourself for the upcoming staff meeting. You know your boss is going to want answers, and now you have them, kind of. Oh yea, don’t forget to jot down another note to check in to why it took two hours to take care of that drive fault.

Are you sure your plant is working as smart as you are?

How can you have any confidence in the performance of your plant? Sure, things are running along and relative to normal, it’s running at about the “baseline.” What do you do when you want to kick it up a notch? How do you put laser focus on a problem area and attack it until it improves? Are you absolutely sure you can determine where the issue is? Even if you can, could you ever really be able to definitively measure any results from improvements?

So… what if a world existed, where you could easily review production data, quality data, planned versus unplanned downtime all in one place, readily at your fingertips? No more reviewing multiple reports from multiple sources. No more correlating data from pieces of paper with data on a spreadsheet. No more manual data entry into a spreadsheet – a really big and complicated spreadsheet. No more trying to figure out how today’s data might compare with yesterday’s data, let alone last week’s or even a couple of weeks ago. No more trying to figure out how to compare the performance of a shift with a changeover to a shift without a changeover.

You can have one simple number, normalized for all the things that happen during a shift, that you can use day after day, week after week and month after month.

Guess what… you can. This world DOES exist!

What you need is OEE. OEE stands for Overall Equipment Effectiveness and it’s the industry standard for objectively looking at your manufacturing facility and determining, based on established criteria, how it is performing relative to itself, over time. This single number takes into consideration Availability, Performance, and Quality and equalizes the number across any scenario, allowing you to compare and analyze data regardless of the situation. With OEE, you will have all this data at your fingertips, and will be able to quickly determine which area is adversely affecting your production, allowing you to make quicker decisions around improvements and corrective actions, and where to focus your time. A single number compared over time, where you can see the effects of your efforts as you implement incremental improvements. Your boss will think you are a genius.

So, do yourself a favor and give your plant a kick in the pants. Call ESCO Enterprise Solutions today and let us help you determine how OEE can help your plant work smarter. Let us get that data into your hands so you can focus on running your plant at peak performance. We can get you setup with everything you need. And because we are experts in plant automation, not only will we get you setup with OEE, we can work with you and your team to improve your plant’s performance, your processes, and achieve your production goals.

For more information on ESCO Enterprise Solutions please contact Michael Azevedo at