OEE Adoption – Better late than never for Life Sciences

I think it’s fair to say the Life Science industry is notoriously cautious when it comes to adopting new technologies and showcasing the latest manufacturing trends, letting other industries such as Food & Beverage or Automotive dip their toes first. Business priorities such as; patient safety, new product development and introduction have always ranked higher than speed, efficiency and cost of production. As a result it has been suggested that Life Science companies are lagging behind when it comes to implementing OEE or putting it off totally.

For those uncertain by the term OEE it stands for Overall Equipment Effectiveness and is defined by Wikipedia as “a hierarchy of metrics developed by Seiichi Nakajima in the 1960s to evaluate how effectively a manufacturing operation is utilized.” Like many other lean initiatives was first introduced in Japan into the Japanese Automotive Industry. And has since then spread through a variety of sectors such as Food & Beverage, Fast Moving Consumer Goods and now Life Sciences.

In this ever changing competitive climate where getting more for less is becoming a growing priority for Life Sciences, gone is the attitude: ‘Pharmaceuticals is different, if I need more capacity I will build it.’ Manufacturers have become more price sensitive and can no longer afford to have inefficient processes slowing manufacturing down. The price and cost of manufacturing has had to become more of a priority as global pressures and competition rise.

How OEE is worked out…

OEE is based on a very simple equation that results in a percentage of equipment performance. It is worked out using the following equation:

OEE = Equipment Availability x Performance x Quality

  • Equipment Availability is based on working out what losses you currently have. These losses include: lack of materials, labour, utilities, cleaning breaks, changeovers, setup, adjustments, breakdown or maintenance.
    Availability = Operating Time / Planned Production Time
  • Performance losses is based on working out what performance losses you have: Low speed running, minor stoppages (unrecorded)
    Performance = Ideal Cycle Time / (Operating time / Total Pieces)
  • Finally Quality Losses are based on rejects and rework.
    Quality = Good Pieces / Total Pieces  

The output of this equation gives a percentage mark representing overall equipment efficiency. The average OEE for the Automotive Industry is over 95%, in Pharmaceutical Packaging the typical OEE is between 15% – 40% – leaving lots of room for improvement.

Over recent years we have seen more and more of our clients adopting OEE as part of their lean programme and those who have witnessed significant improvements.

In the next blog focussed on OEE we discuss the business benefits of adopting it in Lifesciences.

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