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How to select the right OEE software

You want to select OEE software that matches your manufacturing process, integrates with your existing manufacturing technology, and will be accepted by your people.  

But how do you pick the best software?  There are too many options to test them all.  Software demonstrations take time and can hide a lot of flaws.  Your friends who use OEE systems at their facilities have very different processes and technology in place.  Where do you start?

Here at Toward Zero we understand the challenges around selecting software.  We've been involved in thousands of selection processes, and we've worked with hundreds of companies to help them fix software selections that didn't match their requirements.  During the selection process it can be difficult to determine how well a system will work for you, and where the flaws exist.  This is why we've developed an OEE Software Selection Guide for you to use to narrow your search to five vendors.

We think it is important to understand where the software you are selecting grew up.  Which type of industry, which manufacturing processes, and what size facilities it was originally developed for will tell you a lot.  If a system was developed for consumer products packaging lines, it may not have the reporting capabilities you need for an assembly process.  A system running in a single plant may not have reporting capabilities required to compare mulitple lines and plants across the country.

The industry background also helps you understand machine connectivity capabilities.  Plastic injection controllers are very different from other controllers.  CNCs and robots store the required OEE data in different locations from their PLC counterparts, and use different protocols to connect to OEE systems.  

Understanding the manufacturing process capabilities of OEE systems will help you understand how well the models are built to help you report the data in a manner that matches your scheduling and operational processes.  Can the OEE data be displayed as a group of machines organized as a cell with a single operator?  What if there are multiple operators for the cell?  What about an assembly line with rework steps?  Packaging lines with multiple bagging machines feeding a single paletizer?  OEE systems that have been used in similar layouts will be much more likely to have out of the box features to address your specific requirements.

 After you've narrowed your choices to 5 vendors, spend the time developing a detailed list of requirements for your system.  Don't cut corners; try to cover not only what you need today, but what you will need tomorrow.  This will help you eliminate systems that won't grow and scale with your organization as you become better at using the OEE data, and want to look at more detailed analysis.

The experts at Toward Zero are here help.  Please try out our OEE Software Selection Guide, and good luck with your implementation!

Written by Aaron Muhl

Aaron is the Co-Founder of Toward Zero, and is passionate about the role manufacturing plays in our society and quality of life.