Since overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) first hit the automation industry in the 1960s, engineers and manufacturers have sought ways to increase its effectiveness while driving down per-unit costs.
A Greater Need for OEE
This need has become increasingly more important in the modern retail environment because consumers are demanding more from products and packaging, putting an extra strain on consumer packaged goods (CPG) manufacturers.
Consumer and retailer trends has created several issues for CPG manufacturers:
- Materials need to be eco-friendly and sustainable. Cutting back on box materials to reduce costs has created thinner, more fragile packaging that is more susceptible to becoming damaged during production.
- Demand for organic goods has led to the production of products with shorter shelf lives, meaning more frequent and faster production is needed to fill shelves.
- Packages are being marketed to different consumer segments, leading to the same products needing to be packaged in several different ways.
- Retailers are looking to reduce inventory overheads and storage space at their locations. This, combined with the increase in online shopping and drop shipping programs, means that manufacturers must move to fulfil smaller orders more quickly.
Since OEE is the product of availability, performance and quality, you can significantly increase the effectiveness of OEE by individually improving these three factors.
There are two major elements to improving machine availability:
- Ensuring that machine components do not fail
- Using a flexible automation solution
The first element is reliant upon investing in products with very low failure and warranty repair rates, which is not always completely in a manufacturer’s control. However, manufacturers can work to improve the flexibility of their automated systems. Manufacturing runs that are short, resulting in frequent changeovers, are more prone to issues. Errors and changeover times can be reduced by implementing industrial robots that can be easily switched over with a program change.
Manufacturers can also use machine controllers that give production managers the ability to monitor machine statuses and diagnose issues from any device. Variable frequency drives can also be used to monitor consumable components (cooling fans, DC bus capacitors, inrush relays, etc.), notifying users when they are nearing the end of their lifespan.
The greatest determinant of a packaging line’s performance is its motion control solution. Like machine availability, there are two major factors in improving performance:
- Reducing changeover time
- Reducing settling time
Using flexible and customizable robotics, as with machine availability, will decrease changeover time while improving the pick, pack and palletizing times at the end of the line. Because these three processes have a lot of variability, customizable industrial robots will always be able to adapt quicker than more rigid automation equipment.
Smaller adjustments that result in reduce settling time may seem insignificant on their own, but lines that replicate the same process hundreds and thousands of time will save significant amounts of time by minimizing the discrete movements of the components involved. Manufacturers can implement motion control electronics that employ advanced servo algorithms that help decrease settling times and machine movements while increasing the amounts of units shipped, all at a lower cost per unit.
There’s no point in increasing the speed of production if quality cannot be maintained. The pathway to optimized quality is through reducing the wear on mechanical components of machines
Using application toolboxes for controllers created by companies like Yaskawa, users can reuse code libraries to manage customized automation solution without having to program them from scratch. Users can leverage these toolboxes to streamline the implementation of complex machine move profiles, ensuring that the resulting motion is smooth and efficient.
This customizable solution allows CPG manufacturers to manage many SKUs simultaneously and ensure that each one is packaged well.
Start Your Automation Solution Today
The first step in increasing OEE is knowing where to go for the right products and solutions. You can try contacting dozens of companies for VFDs, controllers, customizable robots and everything else you need, or you can rely on automation solutions experts to help design and guide you through building the perfect system for your manufacturing operation. That’s the ease of working with AMMC. Contact us today to start building your solution.