When we consider sustainability, consumer, and regulatory demands – now is the time to ensure overall equipment effectiveness in food packaging, argues Steve Burgess, General Manager Europe at tna Solutions.

Despite much of the world remaining in-limbo throughout the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the food packaging space is far from on-pause. Consumer preferences have shifted significantly in recent months, and demand continues to fluctuate in the face of changing regulations at local, national and international levels. In such an uncertain climate, every penny really does count.

Beyond financial factors, the manufacturing industry has a collective responsibility to improve sustainability efforts. As such, optimising efficiencies on the packaging line by ensuring overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) is a sure-fire way to increase manufacturing uptime and profitability, while boosting sustainability credentials. 

Calculating OEE

So, how can manufacturers ensure their production processes are operating as efficiently as possible to secure the future of their business? Known as the gold standard when it comes to manufacturing productivity, OEE measures how well operations are running compared to their full potential.

The higher the score, the lower the wastage and downtime, and the more seamless operations. Achieving an OEE score of 85% is considered the ideal benchmark – calculated by multiplying technical availability, performance, and quality.

Putting it into practice

There are several ways to improve your OEE score and the elements of the OEE equation are a good place to start when it comes to general productivity. While reducing reject rates is a key concern, the biggest challenge for many lies in understanding how to reduce downtime.

Unplanned downtime, or unexpected issues, may be the first thing that springs to mind, but optimising performance to reduce planned downtime can also have a significant impact. Whether that’s enhancing the cleanability of equipment or implementing a more automated approach, small incremental improvements can have a big impact on a brand’s bottom line.

Futureproofing for success

These are just a few examples – among many – of how innovative equipment design can increase production uptime and contribute to a higher OEE score. While the long-term effects of the pandemic are still unknown, we must adapt to the ‘new normal’, whatever that may be. One thing is for sure, ensuring efficient operations has never been more important as it is now – and building a high OEE score is a great place to start.