Tuesday, September 17, 2013
OEE Application in Pharmaceutical Manufacturing
Pharmaceutical manufacturing usually performs under average in terms of productivity and efficiency. This is mainly due to the production complexity and regulatory restriction pharmaceutical companies face. A typical pharmaceutical plant usually operates around 30% efficiency, while operations in other high-tech industries rate over 90%. As the cost of bringing a drug to market skyrockets due to the extremely long and complex pre-clinical and clinical trials, pharmaceutical companies begin to look for other ways to cut down the costs, e.g. better ways to run the manufacturing plants for better efficiency. Hence, applying lean manufacturing strategies in pharmaceutical industry become more and more essential for its business success. That is, finding new approaches to consolidate and streamline the manufacturing process to prevent and minimize wastes.
OEE, Overall Equipment Effectiveness, is a key metric in lean manufacturing to measure plant efficiency. OEE is calculated through Equipment Availability, Performance, and Product Quality. OEE itself cannot increase efficiency, however, based on the OEE calculation results, companies can identify areas can be improved and constrains can be eliminated. It is more like a “diagnostic tool” for operations strategy. There are some success factors when apply the OEE strategy:
1) Data collected must be accurate. This being said, the data must be collected automatically and electronically, to eliminate human errors.
2) Data collected must be real-time and reflect current state.
3) Data collected should be consistent and aligned with analysis priorities.
As more and more big pharma embrace the concept of lean manufacturing, OEE solutions as well as other lean manufacturing tools available on the market help pharmaceutical companies to achieve their goals by providing opportunities to identify and correct inefficiencies in their manufacturing processes. The question now is what metrics we use to evaluate the OEE result. Since there is no standard automation for the inefficiency identification process, companies have to use metrics that align with their manufacturing capabilities to identify the inefficiencies to improve.