Machine safety: Will applying OEE improve safety, compliance, and profits?

Safety culture that include overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) principles can improve safety performance and compliance to requirements? These two metrics can drive profits and establish the foundation for a sustainable safety strategy.


Does your safety culture include applying OEE principles to improve safety performance and compliance to requirements? These two metrics are positively connected to driving profits, which establishes the foundation for a sustainable safety strategy. 

When these metrics are driven by a vibrant safety policy they can become your competitive advantage.  

An effective safety culture integrates business KPIs and social responsibilities, according to J.B. TitusAn OEE program begins with three distinct key performance indicators (KPIs) as a method to measure the overall productivity of one or more machines. The three fundamental metrics are described as:

- Availability, which measures actual operating time compared to estimated full production time. Any losses in this area would likely be due to major breakdowns or extended set up time. 

- Performance, which measures actual units produced compared to the maximum designed potential. Losses in this area could be due to slow running speed, minor stoppages or adjustments, and material shortages.

- Quality, which measures those losses that occur as a result of substandard output—that is, units of production that do not meet your quality control standards. Losses for this metric would be damaged rejects or products needing re-work. 

OEE brings all three measures together (as percentages) in one ratio to express the total impact of how much time your line is up and running, how quickly it is running, and the degree to which the line is producing good units. 

OEE % = Availability % x Performance % x Quality% 

So, how do manufacturers provide a safer working environment that is compliant with applicable standards while supporting a productive and competitive operation? In fact, how does machine safety contribute to each KPI and OEE? Some examples I have experienced include:

  1. Machine safety solutions can impact availability by increasing the unplanned machine downtime caused by the troubleshoot time to identify and replace a defective safety relay with welded contacts.
  2. Machine performance can be affected by wired safety devices with intermittent connections which slow machine cycle times.
  3. Machine safety solutions can also cause poor product quality through inappropriate machine start-ups or shut-downs, miss-feeds, jams and other factors caused by failing safety devices or temporary workers filling in for an injured worker.

In my opinion, these examples reflect how an aging machine safeguarding program can negatively impact your business. Conversely, by rolling machine safety into the KPIs of your OEE program you can very likely become a “best-in-class” producer.

One way to experience the profitability impact your machine safety culture and an OEE program have on your business is to check out a Return on Investment (ROI) on-line tool, such as the one we created in 2011. You may be surprised to see the profitability impact and your competitive opportunity.

Has this presented you with any new perspectives? Add your comments or thoughts to the discussion by submitting your ideas, experiences, and challenges in the comments section below.

J.B. Titus, CFSE

Related articles:

Inside Machines: Does adopting ISO 13849-1:2006 change the U.S. model for compliance and enforcement?

Machine safety: Executives balance risks, profits

Machine Safety ROI Tool – Designed by JB Titus & Associates

Aberdeen Group study: Integrated Safety Systems

Contact: for “Solutions for Machine Safety”.

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