Automating OEE Data Capture – when should we automate

When it comes to automating OEE data capture, it is how you set it up and apply it into your operation that has the biggest impact on the value you gain.

Automating OEE Data Capture – when should we automate

by Ross Kennedy, 21 February 2019

There are many options when it comes to automating Overall Equipment Effectiveness or OEE data capture. Some are very specifically focused on OEE while others tend to integrate a number of measurement tools such as Statistical Process Control, and Failure Mode & Effect Analysis. Like most software applications, it is how you set them up and apply them into your operation that has the biggest impact on the value you gain.

Too often we have seen the same software used at different sites with vastly different outcomes which reinforces the need to focus on how you intend to set up and use the software. ‘Don’t Automate before Simplifying’ provides sound advice or as one software supplier stated: “never automate a mess” otherwise “you get an automated mess”. 

We have found if OEE is low and there are a lot of losses, especially small losses, then it is very hard for Operators to capture all the losses accurately while they are rightfully focused on producing the required output. By doing the detailed OEE Loss Analysis and implementing a number of improvements, apart from gaining more capacity and reducing costs, you are generating more time for the Operators to accurately capture loss data.

When selecting OEE software you need to consider: 

  1. Accessibility - the intended user audience actually can competently use the software, and even better, like using the software. Sadly, many organisations give ownership over OEE to process engineers who go out and buy software they can use and then dump it into the hands of operations. The result is often poor usage and subsequent outcomes.
  2. Information Design - developing an OEE Data Capture Model is a great starting point. From a Business Improvement perspective, loss data capture should, apart from duration, have at least 5 main fields: loss, code, location, type and reason.
  3. Reporting Capability - when it comes to reporting, many software packages have a set of standard reports all ready to go. An alternative approach has been to minimise this, and instead provide an intelligence platform to help users ‘explore’ for insights and create custom reports.
  4. Integration - any software must easily take data in such as the schedule or product master, and export data out such as excel or feedback to your integrated business system. Without considering this factor early on, this will create annoying limitations in the future.

Finally, before seeking to automate your sites OEE Data Capture:

  • Develop an OEE Data Capture Model outlining the main fields required;
  • Ensure the right information is being captured as opposed to information that makes the performance look good;
  • Ensure the display of the information generated is user friendly and easily accessible to your Frontline Leaders who should be monitoring it on an hourly basis and reporting it at their Daily Review Meeting; and
  • Most importantly define the purpose of the OEE Loss Data Capture System.

Automating OEE Data Capture is an important part of the improvement journey, however if not thought out well and done properly, it may prove to be a waste of time and investment.

If you would like to learn more about CTPM – The Centre for Australasian TPM & Lean, and our approach to OEE, contact myself Ross Kennedy at or purchase my OEE book using this link.

This was a review of the “Understanding, Measuring, and Improving Overall Equipment Effectiveness” book, published by CRC Press Taylor & Francis Group – Productivity Press.
OEE Book Cover