OEE Reveals the ‘Hidden Factory’ at PGT Industries

June 7, 2012
Replacement windows are always in demand. PGT Industries Inc. of Venice, Fla., one of the nation’s leading window manufacturers, projected that demand would soon exceed production capacity and, as a result, constrain revenue growth.

So even though it operates a 485,000 sq. ft., manufacturing and delivery facility in North Venice, Fla., management developed a capital plan with the intention of expanding the operations. Prior to making this large investment, however, PGT’s vice president of operations decided to test the company’s assumptions about its current capacity by installing and applying a productivity analysis tool.

PGT chose Productivity Analytics from Iconics, Inc. (www.iconics.com), Foxborough, Mass. The software was applied to the 12 most critical production assets to analyze the Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) of the North Venice plant. The software’s drill down and correlation capabilities were used to zero in on sources of loss.

Prior to installation of the software and the analysis performed, most inefficiencies were reported as equipment capacity problems. But once the data analysis tools were online, numerous immediate issues were visible to all levels of the organization. These included:

>> production start-up meetings that greatly exceeded allocated time,

>> sporadic loading cart availability,

>> improper material layouts causing gaps on conveyors to furnaces,

>> unplanned idle time and

>> improper recipe settings.

Once these issues were uncovered, PGT created work teams to remedy the causes of downtime and production gaps. The software remained on the job, though, employing OEE and other tools to deliver real-time data to the plant operators and throughout the organization. Any deviation from the ideal or the baseline numbers is seen immediately. Any occurrence of downtime that exceeds a certain limit is immediately made known throughout the company so that all available help can be quickly redirected to the issue.

>> Wireless, Security and OEE were among the many topics discused at The Automation Conference.

Now, the necessary data is continuously reported, in real time, to all levels of management. Over the course of a year, improvements were identified and implemented that resulted in a dramatic increase in production output using current assets. Even better, the planned plant expansion was canceled, resulting in major savings for the company.

In addition, after the improvements were implemented, the plant has improved production rates to such an extent that it is now needs to run only five days a week instead of seven to meet current demand. This has resulted in an approximate 20 percent decrease in labor and energy cost.

“In addition to identifying issues, Iconics’ Productivity Analytics has been used to drive a cultural change in the company,” says Jon McArthur, manufacturing technology engineer for PGT Industries. “The production capacity found to exist in the current plants has exceeded any expectation.”

Given these results, PGT has since commissioned an expansion of the original Productivity Analytics implementation from an initial 12 seats to approximately 80 seats over three years. This has helped provide transparency into undiscovered losses of production capacity. The company reports that the software is now being used as the source of benchmarking and performance measurement to drive a culture built around overall operational effectiveness. 

>> Click here to read Automation World's complete coverage on OEE: OEE Numbers Shine a Light on Packaging Machine Performance

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