CRH Africa was able to increase their Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) on a press machine, which uses progressive technology tools, by 9% in just 12 months.

This was achieved by using principles of Overall Equipment Effectiveness and Lean Tools.

CRH-Africa Logo

Company Background & Operations:

CRH-Africa (PTY) LTD is a manufacturer of metal-pressed components, welded and riveted assemblies for the automotive industry. CRH-Africa also has a subsidiary company, called Adient-PPC. HaldanMES is currently utilized to monitor OEE on their press machines which use progressive technology tools at their plant in Gqeberha in the Eastern Cape.

In 2011, the Port Elizabeth plant relocated to a new facility in Korsten. The move brought about a new lease of life to the production facility by providing a larger floor space of 11,000m2. This presented an opportunity to improve factory flow.

At the new Korsten plant, there are over 350 employees. The factory has 53 presses, ranging from 60 to 800 Ton press capacity.
At the time, they manufactured pressings such as cones and shells for a range of customers, including Tenneco, Faurecia, Eberspaecher, VWSA and Benteler, amongst others.

It was around this time that CRH-Africa decided to do away with its paper-based OEE system, and instead implement an automated OEE data collection and reporting system. The decision stemmed from the inaccuracy of data in their paper-based methods which had made it extremely difficult to identify which processes needed improvement.

After careful consideration, they chose to roll out HaldanMES® OEE software on their shopfloor.

Key Challenges:

Initially, there was resistance from operators to the automated OEE implementation roll out. Their hesitation stems from their lack of experience using computers, leading them to believe that the new system would create more for them.

However, the company then created a platform for operators to raise their concerns and began to involve them in the continuous improvement activities. This stimulated a change in the company culture, particularly in the areas of operations and tooling. It was an important factor in the success of their OEE initiative and continuous improvement efforts.

Losses Identified:

After some time, the reports available in HaldanMES® revealed that over a period of 6 months, the companies biggest area of loss in OEE was availability. This indicated that CRH Africa had room for improvement on these machines, which utilize progressive tools to make parts.

A team was appointed to investigate these losses in more detail. This team was led by Lucky Lazarus, an Industrial Engineer at CRH Africa). By focusing on availability losses, they could see that idle activities contributed to 53.5% of their availability losses.

By narrowing down on the data, it is clear that tea/lunch breaks are the greatest contributor to this idle loss (21.3%). However, the team believed that this could not be changed in the short term. Instead the chose to focus their attention on the second biggest loss: Tool Changes (19.7%).

The Goal:

They need to focus their attention on minimizing these Tool Change losses, in order to positively affect their OEE figures.

This understanding is based on this principle:

Actual Production Time = (Potential Production time) – (Availability Losses)

The current situation was:

If they could reduce the Tool Change Over time (Idle Category), they would increase the Available Production Time:

CRH Africa was effectively losing Actual Production Time because of their longer setup times during each Tool Change.

The Journey towards a Quick Changeover:

CRH Africa followed Shingo’s Single-Minute Exchange of Die (SMED) method to ensure quick changeovers. According to the book, “OEE for Operators” (Koch & Productivity Development Team, 1999), SMED is a 3-step process which allows for improvement in OEE through quick changeovers.

  • Step 1: Separate Internal and External Setup
  • Step 2: Convert Internal Setup to External Setup
  • Step 3: Streamline All Aspects of Setup

SMED Step 1:

CRH Africa analyzed all of the activities that took place during their tool changeover process.

They identified activities which were:

  • Internal: can only be completed when the machine is stopped
  • External: can be actioned when the machine is still running and producing products

SMED Step 2:

They needed to reduce the internal setup time, and moved what was done internally to be done externally, as much as possible.

CRH Africa achieved this by:

  • Organizing “operating conditions in advance” (OEE for Operators, 1999: 47) by creating setup tool carts to ensure internal activities, such as retrieving dies and tools, could be done before the machine was stopped.
  • Introducing “standardized functions” (OEE for Operators, 1999: 47) by bringing in adjustment mechanisms which allowed them to performed activities in much less time than before. These activities included positioning of tools/materials and checking of dimensions.

SMED Step 3:

To further reduce availability loss due to coil changes, they made the decision to use parallel operations. This meant that instead on one operator performing the tool change, two operators could share the work load, thereby decreasing the time it takes to perform a tool change.