The case of the hidden Herbie

KC Boxbottom in Fillers on May 05, 2014

Adrian was on the blower.

"I need help, KC. We've started tracking our OEE (Overall Equipment Efficiency) and it is not good at all. I think I was happier not knowing."

"Ignorance may be bliss," I said, "but as we say in my barrio, it doesn't put the beans on the table. I'll be there tomorrow morning."

Next day I was eyeballs on Adrian's sauce bottling line. The large bottle filled at 150 ppm (packages per minute). The small, 300 ppm. The capper and the case packer would run 350 ppm but the labeler maxed out at 250 ppm.

"Fiddlesticks on low OEE," I exclaimed. "Feed your constraint. Everyone is acting like the filler is the critical link and it is. Sometimes"

"Theory of Constraints (TOC) says throughput is constrained by the slowest machine. That's the filler on the large bottle, the labeler on the small. You have to focus all your efforts on keeping the constraint running as much as possible."

"In The Goal, Goldratt uses a hiker named Herbie as an example of a constraint. Sometimes your Herbie is the filler, other times it's the labeler. Your operators need to know so they can focus on the constraint."

"Make a Herbie cutout that can be moved from machine to machine. Put it on the constraint each day so the operators know which is the key machine that must never stop."

"Now watch your OEE jump."

Herbie is a good kid but you have keep him fed.

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