Bringing together TPM, OEE, Lean and 6 Sigma
by Dale Whitfield, March 2013

How these come together with the IPAV System

The IPAV System monitors the production process, analyses it and allows it to be visualised. The intelligent part is the built in knowledge we have of production lines (mostly high-speed), their design and use, and how we manage the data we gather.

But how does that fit in with TPM, OEE, Lean, 6 Sigma and even the Theory of Constraints (TOC).

TPM is a maintenance program philosophy which integrates equipment maintenance into the manufacturing process.

OEE divides the production process into Availability, Performance and Quality metrics.

Lean Manufacturing is all about how to produce more for less. Or how to improve efficiency by means of optimisation.

The 6 Sigma philosophy includes elements which strive to improve the Production Process by removing the causes of its poor performance.

These are different but complementary philosophies with similar goals. We utilise aspects of all of them. Ultimately we want to improve production (i.e. product in the warehouse) with least effort and most transparency.

How do we bring elements of all these together

  • Firstly and most importantly, we monitor the production process in the most transparent way possible. We don't rely on existing machine I/O or PLCs. We install our own sensors to monitor product flow.

  • Decisions and Indicators are data-driven. We have a lot of data and we use it.

  • The operator terminal present at each machine is 'aware' of all other machines on the line. It knows what's happening at its own machine as well as the rest. This allows us to give the operator information based, not only on his/her own machine but on what's happening elsewhere in the production process.

  • Then we analyse and allow the Line Manager or a Supervisor to visualise the data. This means that at a glance, any problems with the Production Process are immediately visible.

  • Since data about all machines is flowing in real-time for the production process, we can highlight the bottleneck or constraint machine. This highlights the cause of any loss of production.

  • Pulling information from all the above allows us to give feedback to allow better Management and Control of the production process.

Feedback has multiple points of influence

  • Machine operator: can make use of Productive Downtime for maintenance during production as well as assisting with targetted maintenance by entering the causes of machine downtime.

  • Line manager: is able to direct maintenance and make decisions that affect the production process as it happens.

In Conclusion

Targetting and improving efficiency and optimising the Production Process means better performance.

There is no Silver Bullet. There is no one thing that is going to make the Production Process better and more productive. It takes a combination of factors.

By giving operators and managers a holistic view of the process and by creating the feedback loop from machines and operators to the controllers of the process, we complete the cycle that removes the causes of poor performance and thereby improves efficiency and metrics.