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Choosing the Right OEE Software Solution

January 25, 2018 / by Titus Crabb

If you’re a manufacturer, you likely know that tracking overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) can increase the efficiency and effectiveness of your existing equipment and improve your bottom line. However, the sheer act of getting started with OEE software in your facility may be preventing you from reaping these benefits. As experts in developing custom OEE software solutions, we are here to help simplify the daunting task of determining where to start when evaluating OEE software solutions.

In general, we’ve found that the biggest mental road block to getting started with an OEE software solution stems from the fact that the components that need to be tracked to determine OEE—availability, quality, and speed/rate—are defined differently across industries and applications. Thus, there is no one-size-fits-all, or even a one-size-fits-most, OEE software solution out there. But, don’t let this overwhelm you.

There are really two main types of OEE software solutions—point and custom. Custom solutions typically start with a general-use platform tailored to the specific application. On the other hand, point solutions are hyper-specific solutions developed by industry experts that, based on their experience, intimately understand how these OEE metrics are defined and measured for a particular application. Let’s take a closer look at the use-cases and pros and cons of each of these types of OEE software solutions.

 

Custom OEE Software Solutions

Custom OEE software solutions are developed using a generalized software platform. The solution provider or integrator, like Vertech, works closely with the manufacturer to understand their processes and then develop a solution specifically for that application. For example, our custom approach to OEE and downtime tracking using our MES Lite software is built on an off-the-shelf supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) platform. The basic functionality and toolsets are already in the software, and we work with our clients to tailor the application to fit their exact manufacturing process. We’ve customized our MES Lite software for OEE solutions ranging from beer brewing to computer numeric control (CNC) manufacturing applications.

OEE software

A screenshot of OEE software and downtime tracking implemented at Anchor Brewing.

 

Additionally, with OEE software based on a general SCADA platform, like with MES Lite, the software can typically be used for other in-plant applications including SCADA, data collection, and dashboarding. An even greater benefit of this approach is that the OEE software platform can actually become the data hub for the plant as the manufacturer progress towards a completely digital enterprise.

Custom OEE Software Solution Pros

Custom OEE Software Solution Cons

Open software platforms can be expanded to solve problems often totally unrelated to the original application

Higher initial investment due to customization

There is flexibility to put together a solution that is exactly what the manufacturer needs without distracting extras or frustrating shortcomings

 

You only need to maintain licensing and updates for one software package

 

Easy to integrate with other software packages

 

 

Point OEE Software Solutions

As we already mentioned, a point OEE software solution is specific to a single application. For example, Overbridge Technology provides an OEE, downtime tracking, and product traceability application designed specifically for the roll conversion industry. This software solution provides information about product quality for every linear foot of a roll of a product, even ones that are hundreds of feet long. For high-end products like pharmaceuticals, this software can save hundreds of thousands of dollars in waste annually. This particular OEE software solution was developed by individuals with entire careers of experience in the roll conversion business, and their expertise is encoded in the product. Clients that need an OEE and product traceability solution for a roll conversion application would be much better off choosing this solution over a custom one.

Point OEE Software Solution Pros

Point OEE Software Solution Cons

Takes advantage of the experience of others that have already solved this exact problem

Depending on the software, can have more limited use outside of the specific application for which it is intended

For highly technical applications, these systems often provide information neither the client or the integrator would have thought of, tying back to the point above

Can sometimes be difficult to integrate with other software packages leaving another “island of information” on the plant floor

 

How Do I Know if I Made the Right Choice?

Both point and custom OEE software solutions have their place. The only time we see manufacturers make a mistake with their OEE software solution choice is when they think they selected a custom OEE software system, but it’s really a point solution masquerading as a more general and customizable platform. If you find yourself continually frustrated with incomplete, inaccurate, or “stranded” data, or if you find yourself changing your plant processes to get the most out of your OEE software, then you are in the dreaded middle ground between two ideal options. This is the time when you should strongly consider talking to an integrator that can help you build a custom OEE software solution, or finding a more applicable point solution.

Learn more about OEE software solutions by downloading our white paper: A Practical Guide to a Successful Digital Transformation.

Read the Paper

 

Topics: MES Systems

Titus Crabb

Written by Titus Crabb

    

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