Top 5 Questions from the “Maximizing Asset Reliability and OEE” Webinar

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Dan Miklovic, Research Fellow, LNS Research
Dan Miklovic, Research Fellow, LNS Research
Dan Miklovic is a Research Fellow with LNS Research; he primarily focuses on industrial operations, asset management, and energy management, with collaborate coverage across the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), paper and packaging, mining, metals processing and other industry verticals served by LNS Research.  Mr. Miklovic is a Lean Sensei with more than 40 years’ experience in manufacturing IT, R&D, engineering, and sales across several industries, and has held key positions with companies like Emerson Electric, Mallinckrodt Chemical, Weyerhaeuser, Scott Paper, Aspen Technology.  He is a fellow of the Industrial Computing Society and past leader in ISA, TAPPI and SME, and held an adjunct faculty position at Central Washington University for 16 years. Mr. Miklovic holds a BS in Electrical Engineering from the University of Missouri and earned a Masters of Science in Management from the University of Southern California.

One of the surprising revelations from the LNS Research asset performance management (APM) survey was that the food and beverage industry still manages their maintenance activities predominantly by using paper-based systems, spreadsheets and point solutions. Given the importance of asset reliability on overall equipment effectiveness (OEE), a key metric most businesses use to measure production productivity, many of the questions at the webinar’s conclusion were related to how to get started and how to best use OEE.

Maximize Asset Reliability and OEE

To learn how to improve your asset reliability and performance, watch the webinar

Here are the top five questions from the webinar:

Q1:  Why haven’t food and beverage companies been more aggressive about moving away from paper based systems?

A1:  There have been a number of impediments.  For a long time federal and state regulatory bodies insisted on paper-based records for certain compliance reporting requirements. While this hasn’t been the case for over a decade, it bred a culture that accepted paper as “better.”  In addition, much of the food and beverage sector has had automation that was either PLC-based or relatively less computerized than some other industries, and the automated collection of information did not aid in the drive to overall computerization.  This is changing today as virtually all new technology is IIoT-enabled, the next generation of the workforce has come to expect smart systems as being present, and the pressures for higher productivity are growing.

 Q2:  Which industries, outside food and beverage, should food and beverage companies look to for inspiration?

A2:  There is no single industry that excels in every aspect of APM. Instead a number of industries have adopted key components of APM due to their unique situation. Continuous process industries like chemicals and refining tend to operate 24×7.  Food and beverage companies that have intense production periods associated with harvest cycles where unavailability can result in spoilage can serve as a model on how to maximize uptime through condition-based maintenance practices. Resource-intensive industries like mining have low raw material costs where MRO spend can be over 50% of the operating budget. Food and beverage companies that operate in conditions that have high maintenance needs can look to the practices those companies use, particularly with regard to mobile equipment fleet maintenance. As the food and beverage industry adopts robotics for packaging, the automotive industry and their maintenance of robotics can serve as inspiration.

Q3:  What is the number one thing food and beverage companies can do to ready themselves for technological change?

A3:   Food and beverage companies need to realize that people resist change because they don’t understand it or how it will make their lives better. Change is difficult and the best way to get people to buy in to change is to give them input and insight into how change can make their jobs easier, more secure, safer, and rewarding. This entails engaging them in the planning process. One tool that is very powerful in this regard is to implement a formal “Operational Architecture” planning process that allows the company to align its business goals and strategies with the metrics that measure Operational Excellence, and then tie those into a specific plan for deploying technology that enables people to do their jobs better.

Q4:  Where do food and beverage companies typically see the biggest benefits from OEE systems?

A4:  Any company, food and beverage companies being no exception, sees the greatest results when they use OEE to help facilitate a continuous improvement program.  Since OEE is a compound metric that factors in equipment reliability, productivity and the quality of the results, poorly performing equipment has a triple effect on OEE.  A piece of poorly maintained and badly performing equipment can’t produce according to plan, experiences downtime and most likely can’t maintain production quality.  While it is a very powerful metric it should be used correctly however.  Food and beverage companies should not use it as a benchmark against other industries, at too high a level or even from plant-to-plant within the same company, in most cases.  It is best used to monitor day-to-day progress against a goal, not against a theoretical ideal target as every process is different.

Q5: Predictive analytics is a pretty new application within the food and beverage industry, where should the industry look to understand the benefits it can bring?

A5:  Just as with the question above, there are multiple industries that have had sometimes substantial gains from utilizing predictive analytics. The food and beverage sector, particularly those companies that deal with perishable products should look to the electric utility sector. Electricity is one of the most perishable products there is.  If the power goes off for a few hours the revenue from selling that power is gone forever.  For this reason, utilities have been an early adopter of predictive analytics, particularly as it relates to rotating machinery. Companies with large amounts of rotating machinery in their plants can learn from utilities.

LNS Research

LNS Research provides advisory and benchmarking services to help Line-of-Business and IT executives make critical decisions. Our research focuses on the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), Digital Transformation; and providing insights into the metrics, leadership, business processes, and technology capabilities needed for achieving Operational Excellence.  Learn more at

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