Since we launched the Packaging Automation Forum in 2006, late January has become one of my favorite times of the year. By that time I’m usually in detailed conversations with the speakers we’ve lined up for the Packaging Automation Forum. And this year we have some excellent speakers indeed. Take Scott Schienvar, for example, the logistics director at L’Oreal.
Last week I had a great chat with Schienvar. With a background in manufacturing at Church & Dwight and Anheuser Busch, Schienvar is no newcomer to finding ways of using manufacturing intelligence software to drive efficiency in packaging operations. He’s made some real strides in this area at L’Oreal, and he’ll be sharing his experiences at the Packaging Automation Forum in a presentation called “Drive Line Performance by Turning Data into Useful Information.”
One of the things that struck me in our recent conversation is how important it is to keep in mind the human element when it comes to things like Overall Equipment Efficiency, or OEE. Some packaging professionals who have tried to improve OEE have tended to rely heavily on PLCs, CPUs, PCs, and Ethernet connectivity to get where they want to go. But at L’Oreal, it’s the line operators who are now actively engaged in identifying and recording the root cause of downtime events and various kinds of bottlenecks. It’s not that software isn’t involved. In fact, Schienvar calls the Informance Manufacturing Intelligence Suite used at L’Oreal a “beautiful tool.” But in the process of implementing it, L’Oreal emphasized to the operators on the packaging lines that they were the ones who were going to make it work. As Schienvar puts it, “They loved the opportunity to be involved, to be seeing and tracking and understanding how the tool helped make us more efficient.” In just three months, OEE on the Little Rock, AR, line where the Informance software was trialed improved 5%, primarily because it gave everyone far better visibility into what needed work and what didn’t.
By now, says Schienvar, the software tool has been rolled out in all of L’Oreal’s North American plants and a global roll-out is on deck. And packaging line operators are the biggest believers in what the software can do. In fact, when executives from Paris headquarters come in for a visit, it’s the operators who take them on a guided tour of the plant. Says Schienvar, “When your operators are the ones explaining to the Global Head of Operations that this is where my credible losses are, this is what we’re focused on, and this is what we’ll put in motion now that we have good information on what caused the downtime, that’s powerful.”