By focusing on overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) and measuring the flexibility of production lines, snack producers may find new ways to actually increase the number of changeovers and reduce overall changeover time, noted Bill Kinsey, supply chain commercialization manager, Snyder’s-Lance, Charlotte, NC.

OEE is a part of an industry-wide initiative by the Alliance for Innovation & Operational Excellence (AIOE). Under the alliance, consumer packaged goods companies collaborate with their suppliers to develop best practices to improve the supply chain and lower costs.

During an education session during SNAXPO, held in Tampa, FL, Mr. Kinsey provided the details on a recent case study that outlined how snack producers can change the way they operate to reduce overhead and improve their bottom lines.

Specifically, he showed how manufacturers can gather and analyze production data that compare actual units produced by a plant against scheduled production time and target rates to establish a baseline for gauging plant efficiencies.

Further, by honing in on those changeovers without downtime, manufacturers can increase their operational flexibility to more effectively meet real demand from customers and reduce costly inventory.
The key, he said, requires identifying where production lines stop and determine why such operational downtime is occurring. The manufacturer can take that data and other OEE information to adjust a plant’s manufacturing schedule to maximize the number of changeovers without downtime while minimizing other operational changes that halt actual production.

“For me, OEE is all about improving reliability,” Mr. Kinsey stated.

Mr. Kinsey acknowledged that improving OEE is not easy since it often involves conflicting interests within a company. Specifically, the biggest challenge can be finding ways to synchronize various departments — ranging from marketing and accounting to purchasing and manufacturing — so they coexist under the umbrella of reducing waste and improving efficiency.

Funded by PMMI, a national packaging association, with support from industry groups such as the Snack Food Association, AIOE reports are available to the manufacturing industry as a whole.

AIOE’s goal is to find better ways to create a tide that raises “all industry boats,” noted Stephen Schlegel, AIOE’s managing director.