Line Balance Optimisation™ » OptimumFX

Line Balance Optimisation™

6% OEE improvement over 4 weeks

OptimumFXCase Studies › Line Balance Optimisation™

One of the lines at a blue chip FMCG manufacturer’s site in North London was not operating in its optimum state.

The flow of product across the various machines was not steady and the accumulation on the line was not maximised. This was causing small stoppages on downstream equipment building back to the critical machine and thus affecting the OEE of the line.

The problem

A new blow-fill and 2 new labellers had been installed on the line and since then the line balance and flow of product down the line had not been optimised.  The addition of the new critical machine had uplifted the line speed from 23,000bph to 30,000bph. This and addition of new conveyoring was causing lots of stop-starts.

How we helped

By using the OptimumFX model of ‘Perfect Flow’ and evaluating the current state of the line using the ‘5 Levels of Control’ methodology, the following major issues were identified:

Machines Speeds V-Curve
  • The ‘V’ Curve of the line was distorted by the speed of the labellers which was set to run faster than the packer and palletiser at all times.
  • The Packer speed was being restricted by the speed of the palletiser, hence the conveyor was always running full.
  • The line was taking a long time to return to nominal conditions
Machines Stop/Restart time
  • It was taking longer to restart the upstream machine after a stop than to stop it in a build back situation.
Dynamic Accumulation between Labeller and Packer
  • A large number of bottles were left at the packer infeed when in lack.
  • A large amount of bottles were in transit between the labellers and packer during nominal running conditions.
  • There was a very low level of dynamic accumulation (2%) between the labellers and packer.


An action plan was developed identifying the immediate priorities and the site implemented the following actions:


Improved Speeds of machine to follow the ‘V’ Curve
  • The palletiser speed was improved by optimising the cycle times.
  • The labellers nominal speed was set to match the Blow-Fill when both labellers were running.
  • The ‘V’ Curve for the line was optimised to enable quicker recovery after stops.
Improved Restart times on machines
  • Reduced the amount of time taken to restart the upstream machines by implementing cascade control.
Improved Dynamic Accumulation
  • Increased the amount of dynamic accumulation between packers and labellers from 2% to 17% by optimising the conveyor speeds and reducing number of bottles at the packer infeed.
  • Increased the amount of dynamic accumulation between filler and labellers from 33% to 39% by optimising the conveyor speeds.

The results

There was a step change in line performance, from an average of 59% to 65% OEE over a period of 4 weeks – 6% OEE gain attributable to this Line Balance Optimisation™ exercise.

“The implementation of the ’5 Levels of Control’ allowed the site to optimise line OEE. Line Balance is now engrained as part of our culture at all levels from shop floor to Senior Management.”

Trevor Newman, Factory Operations Manager, Coca-Cola Enterprises