Are You an oee-naut? 
5 dimensions for a professional OEE management

Author: Timo Bertsch

Companys must continuously improve their operations or face closure. As Abrahamson argues, it is simply a case of “change or perish” [1]. This statement is already 20 years old, but in a globalized world of economic competition, increasing dynamics and a turbulent environment for industrial enterprises [2], it is more relevant than ever. With manufacturing companies are being affected by challenging markets [2], especially with regard to shortening product and technology life cycles [3], the increasing numbers of product variants, and the rising demand for individualized products [4,5,6] the effective operation of equipment is a key factor of the entrepreneurial success.

The famous management thinker Peter Drucker is often quoted: “What you can’t measure, you can’t manage” [7].  In this way of thinking, several companies have introduced the most common production KPI in recent years – the Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE), which is the key metric of total productive manufacturing (TPM) [8]. OEE monitors the actual performance of an equipment relative to its performance capabilities under optimal manufacturing conditions (Figure 1).

Figure 1: The OEE calculation; own figure based on: The productivity development team, 1999 [9]

However, the recording of the KPI alone does not lead to success, but requires a more comprehensive management approach. Being aware of this, we have, together with experts and consultants, developed an approach for evaluating the OEE management of a company. The result is a five dimensional assessment for a successful OEE management and a future-oriented vision for manufacturing companies.

The 5 dimensions of a successful OEE management

Within several industrial projects we found five dimensions to be elementary for a successful OEE management. These drivers are partly interdependent and cannot compensate each other. For a lasting success it is therefore essential to consider all five categories and to make sure that they are pursued with great emphasis.

Organizational Awareness

From the management to the employees in the production hall. All hierarchical levels should be integrated into a comprehensive OEE management. This category contains 4 main points that provide answers to the question of how strongly OEE is integrated into the strategic planning of a company and how committed the employees are.

  • Integration of the OEE management: How embedded is  the OEE management in the strategic plan of the organization?
  • Definition of goals and measures: How precisely are the goals and measures of OEE management defined and documented?
  • Training activities: How established is employee development for OEE management in terms of education, training and coaching?
  • Awareness of the employees: What is the level of awareness for the responsibility and importance of the OEE management?

Data collection

The comprehensive collection of data is an important topic in the context of OEE management. It shows how advanced a company is in using the tools provided by digitization to automate end-to-end data recording. In this context, the measuring method, continuity and data management have proven to be of particular importance.

  • Measuring method: What technical support is used to collect OEE relevant information?
  • Evaluation method: Are the OEE relevant data recorded continuously, without interruption or error? 
  • Data Management: Is there a continuous and audit-proof storage of all OEE relevant data? Are the data made available to all interested parties?

Analysis of the collected Data

Not only the data collection but also the analysis of the collected OEE data is an important part of OEE management. Only if the data is analyzed continuously, the information can be used for improvements [10]. We have identified two assessment factors that contribute to the sustainable success of OEE management in the area of analysis.

  • Evaluation method: Is an automated and permanently available analysis of OEE losses established?
  • Availability: Are the analyses accessible to everyone involved in OEE management and the optimization of production processes?


Shopfloor meetings help to create awareness for challenges and to make potentials transparent. In recent years, the digital shopfloor has gained attention by practitioners and researchers likewise. We found, that a live-visualization of relevant production data as well as frequent shopfloor meetings are of essential relevance for the success of a comprehensive OEE management.

  • Visualization: Have Andon boards and digital shopfloor boards been implemented?
  • Shopfloor Meetings: Is there a regular shopfloor meeting where live data and analyses are presented and discussed?


The previous four categories are important building blocks in OEE management. However, without using them to carry fix problems and to optimize processes, they have no visible impact. Therefore, the optimization is the essential factor for a sustainable and successful OEE management. Thus, a successful optimization project gives the OEE management a boost, like a rocket engine does.

  • Immediate actions: Have actions and standards for break downs and malfunctions been defined and implemented (e.g. through an automated information chain)?
  • Drive for continuous improvement: Are optimization possibilities regularly reviewed and subsequent projects implemented?

The OEE Management Vision for Producing Companies

In order to help companies launching their OEE management by implementing a North Star, we have developed a vision based on the findings described above. This vision is intended to support companies in either establishing or achieving a fruitful OEE management.

Figure 2: The OEE management vision; own source


[1] Abrahamson, E., (2000). Change without pain. Harvard Business Review.

[2] Wiendahl, H.P., ElMaraghy, H., Nyhuis, P., Zaeh, M., Wiendahl, H.H., Duffie, N., Brieke, M., (2007). Changeable manufacturing—classification, design and operation. CIRP Ann. Manuf. Technol.

[3] Abele, E., Elzenheimer, J., Liebeck, T., Meyer, T., (2006). Globalization and decentralization of manufacturing. In: Dashchenko AI (ed) Reconfigurable manufacturing systems. Springer, Berlin.

[4] Jovane, F., Westkaemper, E., Williams, D.J., (2009). The manuFutureroad. Towards competitive and sustainable high-adding-value manufacturing. Springer, Berlin

[5] Abele, E., Reinhart, G., (2011). Zukunft der Produktion. Herausforderungen, Forschungsfelder, Chancen (Future of manufacturing. Challenges, research areas, chances). Carl Hanser, Munich.

[6] Aurich, J.C., Gu, Z., (2007). Production function and knowledge: a strategic perspective. Prod. Eng.

[7] Cofeen, L., (2009). Marcetculture Blog. Retrieved April 15., 2020, from 

[8] Pomorski, T., (1997). Managing overall equipment effectiveness [OEE] to optimize factory performance, IEEE International Symposium on Semiconductor Manufacturing Conference Proceedings, San Francisco.

[9] The Productivity Development Team. (1999). OEE for Operators (Vol. 1). Portland, Oregon: Productivity Inc. 

[10] Focke, M., Steinbeck, J., (2018). Steigerung der Anlagenproduktivität durch OEE-Management – Definitionen, Vorgehen und Methoden – von manuell bis Industrie 4.0. Gabler Verlag.