Overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) scores tend to be lower in the pharmaceutical industry compared to other industries. This is largely due to the increased number of small batch runs, resulting in frequent product changeovers which present more opportunities for problems to exist. In addition, the production process itself must go through numerous quality control and serialization steps which adds further schedule loss and gives any unscheduled downtime a negative effect on the score.
Mettler Toledo's new white paper 'OEE and Product Inspection - Efficiency in the Pharmaceutical Industry' summarizes the various components that go into measuring OEE and describes how product inspection equipment can lift OEE.
The eight-page paper begins by defining OEE as the ratio of actual production output divided by maximum potential output, and explains how the following three factors are used to calculate a production line's OEE score - Availability, Performance and Quality.
- Availability is the measurement of how often a system is up and running as expected and is calculated by taking the ratio of actual versus scheduled production time.
- Performance is calculated by taking the run time and taking away any time spent due to performance loss.
- Quality measures the number of products produced minus the number of products which fail to meet quality standards.
A change in any of these factors will result in a change in OEE, and understanding what goes into each factor will help pharmaceutical manufacturers to determine where changes to the production process can be made to improve OEE.
What is a Good OEE Score?
The paper goes on to explain that the recommended target OEE score for pharmaceutical manufacturers is 85, although any score in the 80s is considered to be ideal. Readers are then shown how to calculate OEE using data on Availability, Performance and Quality.
Pharmaceutical-Specific Challenges and OEE
The main body of the white paper explains how the installation and use of product inspection equipment can affect each factor of the OEE calculation. Crucially, readers will discover how the latest in-line product inspection solutions can boost OEE by:
- Reducing re-work times through removing products which fail to meet quality control standards or governmental regulations earlier in the production process
- Avoiding unscheduled downtime by preventing damage to production equipment through earlier detection and rejection of contaminants
- Streamlining product changeovers by supporting centralized control and automated profile changes
- Reducing maintenance time with easily-accessible parts
- Helping personnel address system faults quickly with onboard diagnostics, maintenance scheduling capabilities and early warning alerts
- Preventing unscheduled downtime by displaying runtime data which can be used to diagnose the health of other production equipment
- Reducing the odds of a defective product making its way out of the production facility
- Explaining what caused a product to be rejected, helping to identify recurring errors in the production process
- Removing defective products and quickly alerting personnel to production errors, reducing the amount of poor quality product created as corrections can be made before more rework's required
- Providing valuable runtime data which can help demonstrate due diligence, as well as illuminate areas for improvement, further increasing OEE
The paper concludes by emphasizing that improving OEE involves both time and money, but the benefits make it worthwhile as OEE allows for the creation of a roadmap to improve production processes. It highlights areas which require closer scrutiny, and serves as a measurable indication of process improvements. When properly utilized, it's a critical part of the quality control process, increasing efficiency and profitability.