The view on OEE

Posted on 4 Nov 2011 by The Manufacturer

Roberto Priolo reviews the Manufacturing Performance Masterclass

Yesterday I attended the Manufacturing Performance Masterclass, organised by OEE software provider Idhammar, and hosted by Accolade Wines in Avonmouth, near Bristol.

Among the speakers was Steve Welch from Yeo Valley, who shared with attendees his experience with getting a lean programme off the ground at the UK’s second largest producer of yoghurts. He told a crowd of about 70 how the company was already doing pretty well before deploying lean.

The traditional approach, however, could only take Yeo Valley that far, and that is when it was decided to try something new. Management (the approach was a top down one) had to decide between a Kaizen Blitz and a proper lean programme. They initially opted for the blitz, and saw results going up and down. They couldn’t get people involved, and as a result the outcome was disappointing.

That is when they decided to go for a proper lean programme. “We were missing the bigger picture,” Welch said. They tried several tools (from 5S to A3s) before finding what was most appropriate for Yeo Valley’s particular needs: management eventually moved away from a command and control approach.

Later, Ian Stewart from Spirax Sarco talked about the company’s “Unity” project: consolidating its three Cheltenham sites at a cost of £25m in a bid to achieve better customer service. This involved moving over 200 machines, which understandably caused a lot of disruption.

He also touched on the Spirax Sarco Manufacturing System (which reminded me of the importance to brand a company’s CI programme – read the next issue of LMJ to hear master teacher and consultant Joseph Ricciardelli write about this). Under the programme, KPIs and health and safety issues are looked at on a daily basis – pre-morning briefs and end-of-shift meetings are held constantly.

Gary Pittaway showed what the paint plant at the company’s site looked like before a major lean makeover (through TPM) was undertaken. No asset care, no maintenance and inadequate process kept the plant’s performance poor for a long time.

Idhammar’s Alan France delivered an interesting presentation on OEE, showing how big an impact it has on productivity.

The final session was hosted by Dave McVittie from Chivas Brothers. “We have six million casks in stock. Imagine the value stream for us,” he said immediately after taking to the stage.

The company’s plant in Scotland manufactures and packages whiskey. The drive for change came from the need to respond to its demanding premium market (that is customers who want finer, more aged and more expensive spirits): Chivas has 3,500 SKUs in its facility, and wanted to use an OEE software to eliminate duplication, improve information flow, remove distraction (paperwork and administration) and increase awareness on the floor.

With Idhammar’s help, the company introduced Andon Displays, real-time dashboards (available both at the end of a line and on the intranet), and in-depth analysis and reporting. Lessons learnt included the need for a closer integration with ERP and more involvement of operations and IT from the early stage of the OEE implemention.

The highlight of the day for me was the factory tour of the humongous Accolade Wines facility that hosted the conference. The site was kept in a pristine, orderly state throughout, from the lab where wine is analysed, to the gigantic warehouse (almost at full capacity as the company approaches its busiest time of the year – one third of the volume is usually sold in two months) and the manufacturing area, where wine is bottled and cardboard boxes are made.

The line processes 400 bottles of wine a minute (a picture of each and every one of them is taken for quality checks), and it goes on a 6-hour asset care stoppage once a week to address the main maintenance issues.

Savvy companies with a lean agenda like their sites to be easy on the eye, and Accolade is certainly one step ahead doing that. I also saw a 5S Grand Prix board, displaying what department was doing better in terms of, well, 5S.

The next issue of LMJ is going to press soon. There are many lessons to be learnt from it. It talks about the future of lean, in terms of new tools, new forms of training, and the requirements that will have to be addressed if CI is to be implemented correctly.

Talking about new forms of training, check out the link below to have an idea of what consultancy Sora Group is doing: using video and animation content to help embed lean principles.

Roberto Priolo
Editor, the Lean Management Journal