Improving palletizing efficiency with OEE

Mar 20, 2024

At IPLA, we design and test our palletizers to always ensure a 99% OEE for our clients. But what does this indicator really mean? How is it calculated? And what impact does it have on the efficiency of a palletizing line?

In this article, we will delve into the OEE from the perspective of the palletizing process and end-of-line, highlighting the key factors to enhance its efficiency.

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What is OEE and how does it affect the palletizing process?

The OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness) is one of the most important indicators for assessing and improving the effectiveness of a palletizing line, as it provides us with a precise view of the process efficiency by considering various machinery parameters. This analysis allows companies to identify areas for improvement, such as productivity losses, bottlenecks, or unnecessary downtime, contributing to enhancing both the quality and speed of production in the final stretch of the line.

The use of OEE provides us with a clear and detailed understanding of our operations. By quantifying and visualizing losses at the end of the production line, OEE not only shows us what we have produced with our resources but also the untapped potential. This enables us to fully understand the actual capabilities of our facilities and make informed decisions to improve efficiency.

In addition to being a performance indicator, OEE is an essential tool for continuous improvement in the palletizing process. It helps us focus our resources and guide our maintenance strategy more accurately by revealing the real issues faced by the production plant. By identifying these areas for improvement, we can optimize our processes and maximize the efficiency of our operations in the final stretch of the line.

How is OEE calculated?

As mentioned previously, the calculation of OEE considers three main indicators, which are multiplied together to obtain the final result. These three factors are: availability, performance, and quality.

To better understand how these indicators work, we’ll illustrate an example of a palletizer that processes 10 boxes per minute over a period of 60 minutes.

AVAILABILITY INDICATOR

The availability indicator in OEE refers to the proportion of planned production time that is actually available for carrying out operations. To calculate it, we divide the productive time, which is the time when the equipment operates without interruptions, by the total planned production time, excluding scheduled stops such as holidays or planned maintenance.

Unplanned stops are those where the equipment is scheduled to work but does not do so due to unexpected events such as breakdowns or lack of materials. On the other hand, planned stops are those where the equipment is out of service for scheduled events such as shift changes or preventive maintenance.

 

  • To calculate the availability indicator, we will follow these steps:
  1. Identify the planned productive time. This is obtained by adding up the scheduled production shifts and subtracting the planned stops.
  2. Calculate the actual production time. This time corresponds to the planned productive time minus the unplanned stops.
  3. Availability percentage = (Actual production time / Planned productive time) x 100%.
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PERFORMANCE INDICATOR

The performance indicator is essential for evaluating efficiency in palletizing processes. It is calculated by comparing the actual production speed with the maximum theoretical speed that the line could achieve. Essentially, this indicator reveals what percentage of the machinery’s maximum potential is actually being utilized.

Moreover, it allows the identification of areas where improvements can be implemented to optimize the efficiency of the palletizing process. Performance losses are divided into two main categories: micro-stoppages and slow cycles.

Micro-stoppages are brief interruptions in the equipment’s operation, usually lasting a minute or less, which the operator can typically resolve easily. These can be recurrent and include feeding errors, box jams, incorrect settings, among other issues.

On the other hand, slow cycles are periods during which the equipment operates below its optimal theoretical speed. This may result from various factors such as dirty or worn equipment, poor lubrication, low-quality materials, or incorrect PLC settings.

 

  • How to calculate performance?
  1. Identify and record the actual achieved performance.
  2. Calculate the maximum potential performance during the available production time.
  3. Performance percentage = (Actual performance / Maximum performance) x 100%
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QUALITY INDICATOR

The third and final component of OEE focuses on quality, which is defined as the proportion of actual production performance that exactly matches the customer specifications from the start. For example, in a palletizing line, it is calculated by dividing the production of defect-free pallets by the total production time of all pallets.

Las pérdidas de calidad se clasifican en dos categorías: rechazos de producción y rechazos de inicio. Los rechazos de producción son defectos que ocurren durante la producción estable y pueden ser retrabajados. Esto incluye problemas como peso incorrecto, etiquetado defectuoso, inconformidad química o física y cajas dañadas. Por otro lado, los rechazos de inicio son defectos que surgen desde el inicio hasta que la producción se estabiliza, generalmente después de cambios en el equipo.

 

  • How do we measure quality?
  1. Record the total production.
  2. Identify the number of pallets with defects.
  3. Calculate the value of correct production by subtracting the number of pallets with defects from the total production.
  4. Quality percentage = (Correct production / Total production) x 100%
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    FINAL OEE INDICATOR

    To calculate the final OEE, we multiply the three indicators obtained previously. This value is represented as a percentage, where 100% signifies maximum efficiency, with defect-free production, maximum speed, and no stops. A minimum acceptable OEE is 70%, as below this point significant production issues are indicated.

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      As we can see in the example, the palletizer achieves an OEE of 58.3%, which represents considerably low performance compared to the recommended values, resulting in the loss of almost half of the planned production.

      In the following section, we will explore some measures that could be implemented to improve the OEE of the palletizing line and consequently increase its efficiency and performance.

        Measures to improve OEE in the palletizing line

        1. Preventive Maintenance

        Implementing a regular preventive maintenance program to keep the equipment in optimal working condition and prevent unexpected failures. Conducting periodic inspections and performing minor repairs before issues escalate into unplanned downtime.

        2. Equipment Upgrades

        Investing in upgrading obsolete equipment to enhance efficiency and reliability. Incorporating automation technologies to reduce human intervention and increase accuracy in the palletizing process.

        3. Reduce Planned Downtimes

        Efficiently schedule planned downtime by grouping maintenance tasks or adjustments to minimize downtime. Utilize real-time monitoring technologies to anticipate and schedule maintenance at optimal times.

        4. Optimize Production Speed

        Conduct detailed process analyses to identify bottlenecks and adjust machinery settings to maximize production speed. Implement automation systems to improve efficiency in product handling.

        5. Spare Parts Forecasting

        Maintain an adequate inventory of critical spare parts for palletizing equipment and establish an efficient management system to ensure immediate availability in case of breakdowns. Establish agreements with suppliers for the rapid delivery of specific spare parts when needed, thus minimizing machinery downtime.

        6. Palletizing Quality Control

        Implement specific quality controls for the palletizing process, including visual inspections and palletizing strength tests. Train staff in identifying and addressing potential quality issues during the palletizing process, ensuring that the final products meet established standards.

        Implementing these strategies to improve OEE in the palletizing line not only strengthens operational efficiency but also ensures greater reliability and quality in the final product. In summary, as we have seen, OEE is one of the key indicators to consider, as understanding it enables us to improve production efficiency and maximize results in the palletizing process. It is important to consider this coefficient of continuous improvement to optimize performance and minimize operational losses.

        At IPLA, as specialists in automatic palletizing lines, we are committed to ensuring that our clients maintain maximum efficiency in their end-of-line processes, always guaranteeing a 99% OEE on our palletizing machinery. Feel free to contact us if you want to maximize the efficiency of your end-of-line processes.

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