The History of the OEE Industry Standard

25+ years of searching for the ultimate set of definitions


The need to process OEE data

The OEE Standard History starts in 1995 when I heard TPM consultants, originating from the Fuji Photo Film plant in Holland, struggle to process OEE data through excel. Nice for a pilot, but not working for long lasting gathering of data, analysis and  steering the continuous improvement on the shop floor.

I thought it should be possible to design an OEE toolkit that could handle any situation and show all losses. The experts tried to convince me this would not be possible due to the diversity of equipment and definitions in place. The result: The first generic OEE software, that would be distributed by Productivity Inc. (OR – USA).


The OEE Standard History start with a reason...

Working since 1995 as a sr. Lean consultant I noticed two things over and over again:

  1. Operators, line managers and management all either want to compare equipment, or are afraid that this will be done.
  2. Setting up the definitions for gathering OEE data brings up the same discussions over and over again. Larger companies all seem to struggle -most political- fights about how OEE is defined, one wants to include PM, the other takes it out, and the third takes it out under conditions… thus giving fear on the shop floor that ‘unfair comparisons’ are done.
  • Ad 1. Although I feel OEE is a shop floor tool, not meant to benchmark, it is certainly possible to use certain elements as useful reference information considering it is done in the right way.
  • Ad 2. For every problem there is only one optimal solution. So why discover the wheel again…

Could OEE be ‘Standardized?

So I started to wonder if it would be possible to define a kind of an ‘Industry Standard OEE definition’, that would make sure that at least within the same company everybody uses OEE in the same way. i.e. if we are talking about ‘Availability’ at least it should be clear that everybody in- or excludes the same issues (i.e. breaks, PM, etc).


Factory using OEE

How did I proceed?

What I did was this:

  • I took ALL OEE registrations I had ever seen (quite some…) and figured out where the common denominators were.
  • I grouped all possible OEE elements in a logical way.
  • I tried to give all ‘negotiable’ elements a clear definition.
  • I validated every group as ‘Production’, ‘Failure’, ‘Idle’ or ‘Unscheduled’.

At first I thought this would become a huge document since the equipment I looked at was varying from refineries to cement- and paper mills to beer breweries, food processors, drilling, stamping, welding, plating…. well you name it and is was there. Guess what…

I figured out the whole lot of it fits on a couple of A4!

At the end of 2001, the first version of the OEE Industry Standard is a fact!


Reviewing the concept with peers

After releasing the 2001 version of the standard, I felt the standard was complete. I took this first version as a concept to several very experienced OEE implementers and discussed every element. Every time we had a discussion, I gave all arguments I had heard and tried to find the Best Of Best argument, considering it had to be applicable on ANY other situation! In fact this process is now (2020) still going on, but the picture becomes quite clear.

It was my objective to have an OEE standard definition available where every choice is companioned with very reasonable and strong argumentation, that (if I did my job well) can not be refuted within the spirit of TPM and Lean Manufacturing.


The second version is released

In 2003 already many parties joined us on this adventure and tried hard to ‘doubt’ every element of the standard; yet the arguments given by the first group of forum-members stand firm.

Nevertheless we have gathered additions and clarifications which are added to this 2003 version of the OEE Industry Standard.

I invited as many as possible OEE using company to join us in this standard to make sure that:

  1. the definition can stand up to new discussions;
  2. there is a broad support within the industry, so we get more unity in OEE definitions.

An OEE Institute is founded to host the standard. Here, the discussion are coordinated.

The standard is published on paper via Amazon and on a special website.

2010 – 2011

A solid standard has to be reviewed

By 2010 OEE becomes more commonly known and used in a wide range of manufacturing industries.

The definitions hold strong. But the more implementation we do, we discover some things need to be elaborated on, need fine-tuning, more unambiguous description and so on.

The original core-team fell apart, went into pension or got other jobs. Working for the German Centre of Excellence for TPM (CETPM) I met Professor May who helped to sharpen the definitions and in 2011 a newly revised version was published on a new website:



New technologies require extended definitions

With the coming of highly automated and intelligent machinery, factory-life shifts into a new era. In 20 years a lot of experience has gathered and many situations arose and where tackled.

I tried to publish as many as possible of these learnings via several OEE related sites that scattered the knowledge around.

Revising the standard now allows to review the whole picture and it has been decided to integrate several sites in one platform.

The OEE Institute (governing the standard) the OEE Academy (the knowledge platform for OEE Questions) and the OEE Coach site (tools and support for achieving Zero Emission factories through OEE) have being merged.

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