Microsoft Excel is not the Right Tool for OEE Management

Microsoft Excel is an essential tool for the flexible analysis of data, which is why it is also widely used in OEE calculations. Good Excel templates for OEE calculation can be downloaded from the Internet. But there are some good reasons to think outside of Excel when it comes to OEE management.

Excel is a valuable tool for every lean manager. An improvement process should always be exaggerated: zero line, potential for improvement, goal achievement – everything should be expressed in numbers, data and facts. And the Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) is the perfect KPI of this number orientation.

Excel-Template zur OEE-Berechnung
Image: Excel template for the OEE calculation of the CETPM

Why is Excel not the right tool for OEE management?

The answer is fast: Unfortunately, Excel is just the last step in OEE management. Calculating and visualizing the key figure. That’s the easy part.

Far more difficult is the collection of plant data. If you have the possibility to access the PLC data of the plant, Excel can be helpful again. However, it is now often very complicated: Depending on the formatting of the system download extensive calculations have to be made. And dealing with pivot tables is not something every lean manager has in mind. However, the improvement process should not fail.

If you have no way of accessing the plant data, slips and pencils are used in the lean production. Because it’s easy and fast. However, the disadvantages grow:

  • Generating high-quality data requires a consistently high level of discipline across all responsible operative employees. That is quite possible, but usually not for a long time. Moreover, the primary task of the employee is the operation of the plant. Naturally, documenting productivity is priority two.
  • A manual record must be digitized and visualized later. In addition to the human resources and the potential error rate, another important possibility of OEE management is destroyed here. The measure has only a retrospective, judging effect, but can not be used for immediate reactions.

From the experience of many OEE management projects here is an indication of the cleverness of the employees. It often happens that at the end of a shift there is a retroactive accounting of how much downtime matches the number of units produced. Then the missing time is booked for shutdowns. Although this approach satisfies the desire for complete reporting, it usually leads in the wrong direction when deriving improvement measures.

And as a last and very important point should be mentioned that for the targeted OEE improvement not only the loss time but also the loss reasons are needed. The recording can still be supplemented by the standstill reasons, but with the disadvantage of further increasing complexity of the forms. However, only the causes of availability losses can be detected. Causes of performance losses will never be tangible with paper and pencil and only under extreme expense of PLC data. At the latest there, Excel has reached its limits. has been designed for all these operational challenges.

What’s Next?

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