OEE generally measures 3 things – performance, quality, and availability. Not only is it software that measures OEE and its components, but it also involves some sort of hardware solution to help you gather that data automatically from your machines. It’s kind of a two-part solution.
That hardware could be something simple like a sensor picking up a single data point like counting product as it comes off a line or knowing if a machine is down because the sensor doesn’t see product for a certain amount of time. That single data point can be anything that will help you improve the plant and achieve your goals. At the same time, you could be supplementing that information manually to really give you the “big picture”. The options in this use case are seemingly endless.
But, the kicker is that OEE software is a very, very broad category of manufacturing software.
There’s a lot of companies that make it, but they’re all different, all dependent on the goal that someone wants to accomplish. With OEE software, it goes from the very simple where you’re monitoring one data point (like as described above) to the very complex where you can pull hundreds, or even thousands of data points off a single piece of equipment. You’re still gathering the OEE components but going much, much deeper into it.
And, to make it even more complicated, there are standalone OEE software solutions, MES systems that have an OEE component to them, and even ERP systems that have OEE components. As we said, it’s a big, big market. So, how do you know what OEE software is going to work for you and your company?
Using OEE Software Manufacturing to Achieve Your Goals
It all comes down to having the right tool for the right job. What are your goals? What are you trying to accomplish both now and in the future? That’s really going to drive what you pick.
To begin, you start small, think big, and move fast. “What exactly does that mean, though?”, you ask?
Before you even begin the OEE software selection process, you determine the critical things you need to measure to accomplish the goals you want to achieve. Then, once those goals have been accomplished, what’s the minimal amount you can do to get that data?
But, then look towards what’s next, what’s next, and what’s next. It’s all about achieving each goal, one step at a time, and then working towards the next goal with the idea of continuous improvement. This is where the “think big” idea comes into play. What direction do you want to take going forward? You want to pick the right software that not only fits you today but will fit you 5 years from now. (Trust us, you don’t want to re-implement a few years down the road – find the solution that will help you achieve all of your goals.)
How Do I Know Which Manufacturing Data Collection Software to Choose?
To differentiate from all of the OEE software options, we suggest looking at features to start. Does this software offer the kind of features you need to achieve your goals?
Then, look at what industries that software fits. If you’re a food manufacturer, has this company worked in food before? Are they designed for job shops if you’re a job shop? Are they able to connect to the kinds of equipment you have?
Then, think about how the manufacturing data collection software will be used in your plant. Are there dashboards you think would be easy to use in your company? Is the user interface easy to use? Do you think you could learn and train on the software quickly? How long do you think it’s going to be set up, implement, and train people on?
Next, browse through their website. How much information is available on their website to understand what the solution is, how it works, what it costs? How easy do they make it for you to buy and understand those things?
These are all questions you need to ask to find the right OEE software solution for your specific situation and company.
What are the Benefits of OEE Software?
Immediately, OEE software is going to help you with visibility. As soon as the OEE software is up and running, you’ll immediately understand what’s happening, rather than waiting a day or so to get a report from the previous day’s activities.
We got an interesting idea from a LinkedIn post that helps drive this point home. Think about what you had for lunch today. What about yesterday? What about last week? Last month?
Sure, you can tell us what you ate yesterday and maybe the day before. But, once you start going back a week, a month, even a year, it gets harder and harder to remember. That analogy can be used when talking about the plant’s performance. You probably remember what happened yesterday and how the plant performed. Maybe even the day before. But just as remembering what you ate for lunch, the details on what happened in the plant get fuzzier and fuzzier the further you think back.
How are you going to expect people to remember what happened last week when there was a bunch of lost production if they can’t even remember what they had for lunch a week ago?
There’s a lot of lost information if you don’t have a real-time OEE software manufacturing solution.
So, in this instance, OEE software provides a detailed report of how the plant performed, on any given day. (And, we’re sure if you had a lunch software, it could help you do the same.) OEE software provides that instant visibility so many manufacturers need.
You know now what’s going on, in real-time. If a machine is down for too long, you can get an alert on it, you can walk over to the supervisor or operator and talk about the problem, and find a solution to the problem. That’s immediate visibility and what it does for you initially.
Over a longer-term period, you have a standard set of metrics to understand what’s happening in the plant.
The other thing is that it also enables the entire company, production and beyond, to talk the same language. The measurements and metrics are typically the same across all of the equipment. Even though the processes may be different from machine to machine or line to line, the measurements remain static. So, when you’re talking to people, they’re all talking a common language and understanding one another better.
At the end of the day, the choice of an OEE software all boils down to selecting the right tool for the right job. But, the benefits are immense once you’ve determined the goals you want to achieve.