Tool manufacturers take a look at OEE and the overall process

In addition to control and machine manufacturers, tool manufacturers are increasingly offering digital solutions for process optimisation.

OEE and process optimisation
OEE and process optimisation: Who's winning the race? - Photo:
  • Until now, the determination of overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) was reserved for machine manufacturers.
  • Tool manufacturer Seco presents its own solution for machine monitoring.
  • It remains exciting who will win the race in the end.

Word has spread that machine and process data form the basis for developing attractive business models in the future industrial platform economy. No overarching ecosystems have yet become established and many manufacturers and technology providers are still working on their own solutions. For this reason, it is not surprising that new players are constantly entering the scene who also want to participate in the trend of digital production optimisation.

In the world of machine tools and manufacturing technology, the situation is currently particularly exciting. This is primarily due to the fact that a wide variety of system suppliers are competing with each other on an equal footing in order to secure their access to supposedly lucrative revenue models in the future.

In other industries, competition can often be observed between software providers and machine manufacturers, who until now have tended to be hardware-heavy. In this dispute, the latter in particular claim a higher level of application and expert knowledge for themselves, which is supposed to increase the utility value of their solutions. However, this special domain knowledge is spread over many shoulders with regard to common machining processes, while the causal models necessary for describing the overall context are of a more general nature. Thus, tool, machine or control manufacturers are able to collect basic data on the basis of which, for example, statements about availability or energy consumption can be derived. The race is also made particularly exciting by the fact that the players involved have their own distribution channels that reach all the way to the customer and can draw on development resources, some of which are considerable.

Tool manufacturers develop their own approaches

The tool manufacturer Seco Tools, part of the Sandvik Group, recently presented a stand-alone application for condition monitoring. With the aim of increasing overall plant effectiveness, the IIoT solution Seco Machine Monitoring provides detailed information on the performance of each individual machine, as well as on downtimes, set-up times, time spent between processes and scrap rates, among other things, according to the company's own description. This is intended to reduce downtimes and utilisation problems.

The solution was developed together with the up-and-coming start-up MachineMetrics and is intended to provide users with a better basis for decision-making on the following topics.

  • Increase overall equipment effectiveness (OEE).
  • Data-supported process optimisation.
  • Forward-looking improvement of production processes.
OEE ratio - An important comparative figure

OEE calculation

OEE = V x L x Q x 100%

V = Availability, L = Performance, Q = Quality

What is the OEE?

The Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) is a productivity parameter that maps performance and quality losses in addition to availability and has its origins in the Total Productive Maintenance concept.

What does the OEE ratio mean?

The OEE indicator describes the actual utilisation of technical units, taking into account availability, performance level and quality rate. This indicator thus fulfils an important control function in production and maintenance.

OEE significance for higher-level production goals

  • Increase productivity through higher value added per unit.
  • By reducing process errors, rejects or defects are reduced, which also contributes to an increase in customer satisfaction in the long term.
  • Increased reliability can reduce material inventories to mitigate unplanned downtime.
  • Lower maintenance costs over the entire life cycle.
  • Enables the creation of optimisation incentives.
  • Supports the achievement of sustainability goals.

Who will win the race?

Of course, most machine manufacturers have been offering comparable solutions for a long time, but very few have been commercially successful. The decisive factor will be, among other things, who will succeed better in the long run in combining new digital business models with the traditional product portfolio. The starting point could not be more different in this respect, even if in both cases marketing as an independent IT product could be difficult. The machine manufacturers will mainly look for synergies between the new service modules and existing service contracts or financing models. Understandably, it would be nice if pricing models could be established in the market that reflect the benefits, which inevitably leads potential customers to ask:

"Do I really need this".

All the more so, of course, if tool manufacturers now also present alternatives. These can hide the necessary price tag due to completely different unit number dimensions, as a small rounding up.

The entire process chain in view

The transformation into a solution provider is leading to a positioning as a system supplier in many places instead of limiting oneself to a core competence. Particularly exciting in this context was the announcement last autumn that Sandvik had taken over CNC Software Inc. This means that Mastercam is now also part of the portfolio. Through the integration of one of the leading manufacturers of CAM software (Computer Aided Manufacturing), upstream design processes can thus also be integrated.

What does this development mean for customers and users?

The willingness to invest in new technologies is always greatest when the future viability has been clarified. The current mixed situation is unlikely to make it any easier for customers to come to a final assessment. So as long as most providers are still advertising with qualitative statements, it is very difficult to calculate a real business case. Time and resources permitting, further experiments should be conducted in all directions.

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