Chris Marinucci, Sr. Process & Automation Manager,
O’Brien & Gere
In the past, I was responsible for improving the performance of a high-speed canning and filling
line from process to palletizing. The most effective use of capital proved to be the installation of an
Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) system. This system tracked downtime, process capacity
utilization and took into account product quality. In the beginning, the value of the system wasn’t
apparent. It told us things any skilled operator could tell you about the performance of a piece of
equipment. Nonetheless, the OEE system helped us track progress and justify system improvements.
As time passed and the line efficiencies improved, it became more difficult to identify the problems.
This is where the OEE system really shined and became an indispensable tool.
The OEE system was not a silver bullet that brought clarity to all of our production woes. Our
difficulties were becoming less about the performance of a piece of equipment and more about
being influenced by subjective factors. Operators tended to run parts of the systems differently as
they learned more about the performance metrics. If the base line is “X” cans per minute, operators
ran “X+ 5 percent” cans per minute. The intention was good, but that extra 5 percent caused another
part of the process to run erratically — creating a ripple effect of ramp ups and shutdowns netting less production. This is
where the OEE system pointed us to specific parts of the process that were over or underperforming against base line. It
showed us where certain products were difficult to run and how the system needed to be turned down to make quality.
In this case, it helped us define realistic production targets for those hard to process SKUs and helped R&D look at ways
to reformulate to match production throughput of other products. The OEE system also became a great way to collect and
organize operator comments about the context surrounding a failure, knowing they could enter that data directly into the
OEE in the moment.
Robin Cobb, PE, PMP, Product Manager, Polytron, Inc.
Food manufacturers should be looking at connectivity and streamlining common platforms
across all business units. By updating older technology, controls hardware and PC-based
systems, with smart devices, improving the migration to more efficient data collection tools —
manufacturers become proactive, not reactive, to data collection. Some of the areas to target for
an upgrade to support any streamline project would be: the industrial network, control devices
such as Variable Frequency Drives (VFDs) and Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs), and user
Information specifically developed and delivered to support the needs of the end user has
the most impact towards the user’s operational effectiveness thus streamlining the operational
process. Personalized on-demand information is delivered to the Human Machine Interface
(HMI), handheld device or laptop based on the needs of the user. By use of an RFID reader — the
maintenance staff could receive equipment videos, manuals and documentation delivered from an
easily accessible repository of documents, local or cloud based.
Automated Preventive Maintenance (PM) platforms would streamline operations and target
increased OEE by reducing downtime. Smarter equipment on the line would feed the appropriate information to an
advanced PM algorithm to provide maintenance dates and tasks to the correct individuals. Alternatively, OEM partners
might provide virtual monitoring to deliver maintenance at the right place and time.
Manufacturing Intelligence/MES solution sets connect all business units with one common platform. All various
database information is accessible via dashboards. The dashboards become mobile and virtually accessible through a
secure portal delivering the information throughout the facility.
Today manufacturers have the opportunity to improve operational efficiency with data-driven decisions in a data-driven environment providing a highly connected plant floor that is more streamlined than ever before.