Capabilities / Line Integration / OEE

Overall Equipment Effectiveness

Overall Equipment Effectiveness

Your packaging line is doing okay, but there are lots of niggling issues eating away at the bottom line.

Changeovers are taking too long, products are being dumped because the labels are incorrect, and one of the palletisers is sitting idle, waiting for cases.

Microstops are everywhere, and they are starting to bug you. They're small issues on their own, but they add up to lost dollars over time.

What's the solution?


OEE is not a new concept in manufacturing, but it continues to be an elusive goal for many FMCG manufacturers.

If you get it right, it's a metric that can yield huge gains—like 30-40% capacity improvement.

OEE is a Key Performance Indicator (KPI) that has been used since the 1960s to simplify the performance of complex processes into a single metric.

The simple formula is:

OEE = Availability x Performance x Quality

Calculating accurate OEE comes with its own challenges, as does improving your OEE score.

However, there are three key reasons to track your OEE:

  1. You’ll be able to track the inefficiencies in your production line

  2. It will help you justify CAPEX, ensuring maximum ROI

  3. Operators and staff can visibly monitor their performance, keeping them motivated.

Typical Capacity Losses

The figures are staggering if you equate production capacity to dollars.

  • In a well-optimised FMCG factory, OEE scores can range from 85% to 90%, indicating a loss of 10% to 15% of potential capacity.

  • In less optimised factories, OEE scores might be around 60% to 70%, translating to a loss of 30% to 40% of potential capacity.

Reducing Capacity Losses

To minimise these losses, FMCG manufacturers often implement:

  • Preventive Maintenance: Regularly scheduled maintenance to prevent unexpected breakdowns.

  • Lean Manufacturing Practices: Techniques such as 5S, Kaizen, and Six Sigma to improve efficiency and reduce waste.

  • Automation and Technology: Investing in advanced manufacturing technologies and automation to reduce human error and increase consistency.

  • Training and Development: Continuous training for operators to improve skills and knowledge.

Let's take a closer look at OEE.

The Formula

OEE = Availability%  x Performance%  x Quality%


Availability considers all events that halt planned production long enough to warrant tracking the downtime cause (typically several minutes).

It effectively measures overall uptime versus planned production time.

If your process runs 100% of the scheduled time, availability would be 100%.

In reality, downtime events occur due to:

  • Maintenance
  • Cleaning
  • Extended equipment breakdowns
  • Changeovers
  • Material unavailability
  • Operator unavailability
  • Plant interruptions or shutdowns
  • Significant equipment adjustments
  • Downstream machine jams
  • Equipment warm-up

These events are logged by your process historian. The OEE engine in your SCADA and MES systems sums them up to provide total downtime.

You can analyse downtime by reason code to identify and prioritise the most disruptive events. To understand downtime, your PLC or SCADA system needs logic to classify when and why a machine is down.


Performance accounts for anything that causes the manufacturing process to operate below its maximum speed.

That includes both slow cycles and small stops, generally less than +/- 5 minutes).

It effectively evaluates how many units were produced in a given period versus the maximum possible production under ideal conditions.

Performance is influenced by:

  • Product flow obstructions
  • Misfeeds
  • Sensor stops
  • Checking
  • Substandard materials
  • Operation below nameplate (machine running at less than its standard rate) or design capacity
  • Underperformance due to equipment wear or aging
  • Lack of operator training or operator inefficiency
  • Performance improvements require additional data for context, such as machine setpoints and downtime causes.


Quality measures the proportion of manufactured parts that meet quality standards without requiring rework.

It effectively quantifies the number of "good" units produced versus the total units produced.

While most processes include quality control that results in easy data collection, quality control validation often occurs after production, necessitating delayed OEE data updates. This delay can range from hours to days.

Understanding quality involves identifying why products failed QA/QC and how to resolve these issues.

Some examples:

  • Rework
  • Scrap during test runs, start-up and changeovers
  • Damaged units
  • Flushed product (for liquid processes)
  • Rejected units

How to use OEE data

The true value of OEE emerges after obtaining the figure itself.

From there, you can delve into why the value is what it is and how to improve it.

Data analysis tools, such as line control dashboards and reports, deliver the figures.

Common examples include “Top 5 Downtime Reasons” or “Top 5 Quality Issues.”

Generating these reports is straightforward, but the challenge lies in:

a). Getting 'true' or 'authentic' OEE data.

Is the data coming from a machine, or is it an operator's assessment of the issue?

In our experience, they're not necessarily aligned. You want equipment that is integrated into a control system so that all available data points are accessible.

There's a bit of art to integration for true OEE.

b). Addressing the issues to improve OEE.

It can require a cultural shift within the company.

What got you here won’t get you to where you want to be, and change can be difficult for people to embrace. You need accurate data to support both the need for change and the tracking of improvements.

This is where many OEE implementations fall short.

Help is here

Fortunately, Foodmach is experienced in helping companies extract and leverage OEE to their advantage.

We understand how to set you up to access the authentic data you'll need to help shift your team’s mindset.

So, if you think a bit of capacity improvement is on the cards, perhaps it's time to:

Contact Us!

One more thing

Our expertise in Overall Equipment Effectiveness has been developed over 50+ years.

We don’t just measure Overall Equipment Effectiveness; we supply packaging automation solutions that have OEE at their heart.

Whether you need a palletiser, case packer, pallet wrapper, or even a fully integrated packaging line, you can rest easy knowing you’re dealing with the most OEE-focused team in the industry.

'The ability of Foodmach technicians to combine OEM equipment from around the world into a factory that delivers Industry 4.0 connectivity and information is unequalled in this country.'

Group Operations Director, BWX Ltd