Increasing Performance by Improving Targets
While Experiencing Employee Turnover

Summary

A large polymer, petrochemicals, and building products company was looking for fast moving solutions as they were experiencing a historic surge of demand along with massive turnover of front-line staff. By increasing the accuracy, impact, and accessibility of their targets for product / line combinations, they increased performance by 16%, generated an additional 1.1 million lbs in product, and a 0.3% increase in quality. They empowered front-line staff to understand in real-time whether they were performing to target, or missing the mark.

Situation and Background

A Fortune 500 international manufacturer of polymers, petrochemicals, and building products had the double-sided challenge of a surge in demand and a large amount of operator turnover. They were oversold, under resourced, and looking for ways to move quickly with the equipment and team members they had. The aggressive pace of change and constant firefighting undermined early attempts to adapt. 

The engineering and operations teams had already been working with Oden Technologies to improve quality. The company came to us with this new situation, looking for assistance. Our team saw a way to maintain quality standards, while increasing throughput, and even creating a better workforce experience for new operators.

When investigating the manufacturer’s data, it was identified that within the same product SKU,  different operators and shifts had large variances in performance. Some runs had very high output and high quality, while others weren’t even close to hitting similar numbers. In fact, 20% of runs weren’t remotely close to performance targets. Operators had to guess the best settings for running a product with each new run. This signaled that there were challenges with how targets were created, used, and adhered to at the factory floor level.

 20% of Runs Weren’t Within the 75 Percentile of Achievable Performance

 

Creating Accurate and Impactful Targets

This is not an uncommon situation. Targets are often made from company level metrics and are heavily based on margins, not on individual line and product capability. Many manufacturers aren’t measuring their demonstrated capability. The majority of the time, that means that output targets by product line are likely under where they could be, leaving output, OEE, and profit on the table. Similarly, if targets are too high for a specific line, they’re demotivating and possibly even dangerous for operators as they try to meet unachievable targets.

Fortunately, with Oden already tracking the process and production data across machines, lines, and most importantly, operators, this wasn’t a situation that required new tool implementations, or costly consulting services.

The manufacturing company used Oden’s performance targeting solution to analyze data from different lines across different operators. From this, they were able to establish realistic baseline throughput rates and process behaviors for unique product / line combinations. These new targets were added to the Oden software and interface. Team members at the manufacturing company were now able to compare where they were, and where they should be, in one system. This process took roughly 2 weeks to complete, while most target analysis projects take 4+ months, and are only adjusted on an annual basis.

Targets were based off of runs that were within the historical average of overall performance. This ensured that targets were based on what could be executed on the individual line, while not expecting an outlying perfect run every single time.

The manufacturer now had accurate and trustworthy targets. Unlike targets based on traditional high-level KPI methods (OEE, product margins), these targets are based on individual lines and product mixes, which take into account machine builds, machine ages, placement in the factory, etc. It’s also easier for individual operators to understand, as it’s based on what they’re individually in control of. This was key for ensuring an empowered front-line staff to use in their day to day work.

The process took roughly 2 weeks to complete, while most target analysis projects take 4+ months

 

Empowering Staff

Improving performance targets is a common goal for manufacturers, but this improvement may not move the needle on its own. What pushed the project to generate over $1 million in captured revenue was changing the way operators and supervisors related to their performance targets, regardless of their line experience.

This project empowered multiple levels within the plant to understand what they needed to prioritize and increased access to information to make better decisions. The previous process for daily production reviews included supervisors and managers manually pulling ERP and machine data, consolidating that information with a run log, asking operators for context, and analyzing information to understand line performance. 

With improved targets and Oden, that information is now provided automatically to key stakeholders, as well as recommendations for product / line combinations that present the largest opportunity for improvement. This makes prioritization extremely fast and impactful. Supervisors now spend more time proactively helping their operators and improving processes.

To better enable operators’ decision making, monitors were deployed on the production line that displayed 3 powerful things in real-time.

  1. What is the target for this product / line combination
  2. How close is throughput to target right now
  3. What can be done to close a gap between those numbers

This simple idea of keeping operators and supervisors informed about how close they were to target was game changing. Seeing their progress in real-time is engaging for today’s workforce and helps them to feel more in control of their results.

Improving Targeting with Oden Improved Operators, Supervisors, and Managers Day-to-Day Processes

 

Results

This manufacturing company now had accurate, impactful targets, and real-time visibility for staff to improve performance, regardless of tenure. The results of this during the first year include:

  • 1.1 Million pounds in additional product, making it possible to meet oversold orders. This resulted in roughly $330,000 in additional profit
  • 16% improvement in overall performance
  • While increasing throughput, quality was improved by 0.3%

Targets in manufacturing are generally calculated without taking individual product lines or the operator experience into account. We can see here that by implementing the right tools, improved targeting can make a dramatic difference in key profitability metrics.

The next steps for this company in regards to targets is to move up to the 75th percentile of performance, to further increase the performance across production lines.

 

About Oden Technologies

Oden is the fastest and least resource intensive way for manufacturers to get the analytics and guided insights their team needs to be problem solvers. Our software unifies siloed machine, production data, and prebuilt machine learning applications to provide real-time insight and context. Teams are enabled to make faster, more proactive decisions, and reduce firefighting. Our customers have deployed in 42 days, and have achieved 5x ROI in 12 months.