Everything needs to be produced greener and faster these days , while quality stays guaranteed. In other words, production needs to be more effective. But how do you determine if you produced more efficient this week compared with last week? To get the most production out of your machines, your factory needs to be configured in such a way that there are as few as possible machines. This sounds very logical. But how do you achieve that? It all starts with obtaining the right data.

By Jan van der Vleuten - Process Technologist, KSE Process Technology B.V.

But how do you identify these data? When the major part of the machines were still working mechanical, you needed a stopwatch to log every different handling of every machine. With the use of electronics it became easier to log these items. Nowadays, almost everything is automated and in principle every handling can be stored. If these data is analyzed, a clear view of the functioning of a machine and/or factory can be obtained.

If it is logged what every machine does on every moment of the day, several kinds of analyzes can be executed. A many used analyze is the bottleneck analyze. With this analyze, the capacity of a bottleneck machine can be exposed and it’s possible to choose to increase the capacity of the line. The capacity can be increased via several ways. A possible solution is to execute the handlings of the machines faster. Another obvious solution is to put a machine parallel to the bottleneck machine, which can execute the same handlings.

More and more companies are trying to increase the production of their machinery using OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness). Here they look at the availability, capacity and quality of the machine. To determine the OEE it needs to be clear where the machine is working on at every moment of the day. While using OEE, the capacity of the machine can also be increased if the reason of a (too) low OEE is clear.

As well as with a bottleneck analyze as with OEE, it needs to be clear what the machines are doing now before you going to think of a solution to increase the capacity.

If a factory is extended it would be nice to know the consequences of this extension in advance. Is the capacity of a certain line really improved if an extra machine is placed in a certain production line? If there is enough data available about the occupation of a machine, a simulation can be developed for this. In this simulation the solution can be simulated and evaluated. In this way several solutions can be compared and eventually the right solution can be chosen. In most cases the choice for the best solution depends on the return on investment time.

Another advantage of a simulation is that the planning of a production process also can be improved. Off course this goes a lot easier in a simulation then in a real factory. In this simulation you can organize the orders in different ways to eventually choose the solution with the shortest throughput time. Off course there are many more optimization problems where different solutions can be simulated so right decisions can be made.