Manufacturing News

Solving business problems using production performance data – by Will Purcell

Manufacturing News


By Will Purcell, Pact Group

Sometimes, we know we’ve got something to fix, but one thing or another gets in the way and we put it on the backburner.

We know the issue is there in the background, but it doesn’t appear to have a lasting impact and we’re all good without addressing it anyway, so we move on and let it lie.

As a business analyst who spends his days delving into the data deluge of my company and its processes, I feel compelled to take a different data-driven approach.

Data and insights for that eureka moment

I recently spoke at an Operational Excellence Leaders (OEL) virtual conference with Pact Group’s trusted manufacturing performance and data partner OFS.

During the event, I spoke about the importance of data and insights to tell the right story, show the impact certain issues are having, and taking action to rectify them. It becomes more difficult to ignore problems when you can see the cost on a page in front of you, or the potential opportunities that could be harnessed.

We started breaking down our data and our downtime into five key areas:

  • Setup time as a proportion of shift time
  • Planned downtime proportion of shift time
  • Number of unplanned events
  • Unplanned downtime as a proportion of shift time
  • And overall run time.

The goal was to improve on each of these metrics, and in the case of unplanned downtime, set the ambitions target of ‘zero’. The results have been tremendous – we’ve improved dramatically on every metric and discovered and solved a huge volume of both known and previously unknown issues.

In one example, we leveraged OFS’ line performance management solution and identified that one of our conveyor belts was stopping on average 80 hours per month. The natural assumption was that it was a weight-bearing issue, but the solution showed us that it was because there was a stop gate missing.

A simple fix saw a reduction of 95 per cent in downtime on that line. We explained the problem and the solution through data, and the buy-in was immediately there.

Harnessing the power of internal competition

One of the best parts of getting this data and these insights in play is that it can create a sense of healthy competition across the factory floor.

Operational managers are now competing to have the most efficient line and actively engaging with the data and insights we’re able to leverage with OFS.

Collectively, we’re all holding ourselves to account to a higher standard, all the while improving efficiency and reducing the amount of unnecessary time our team spent on restarting machines and other tedious tasks.

Each site has a rolling plan of action. There are fortnightly reviews with key stakeholders – crucially including senior management – with solutions discussed and actions assigned to solve issues. We’ve also developed standardised reporting across all lines and sites and identified insights and patterns to drive efficiency.

Key takeaways

In my role I see daily that behind every set of data, there’s a story to tell. What it actually says is one thing, but how you interpret it is just as, if not more, important.

Numbers can be shaped, cut and re-cut until they highlight the story you need to key – and automating how that data is created is key to doing this in an efficient way.

Once you understand the story, you can tell it to the people who matter most – your customers, your staff, CEO and other stakeholders. It can be used to formulate actions and track their progress. Our business is growing faster as a result.

This is about more than just efficiency and growth, it’s about improving the workflows and lives of people across the organisation, bringing manufacturing into the 21st century, and leveraging the right technology to restore it to its former greatness at a crucial time for the industry and its role in reviving the Australian economy.

Will Purcell is Business Analyst with Pact Group, and recently spoke during an OFS Operational Excellence Leaders (OEL). To learn more about OFS and its line performance management solution, visit

Picture: Will Purcell

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