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Case Study: Whirlaway Corporation

PROJECT:  OEE (Operation Equipment Efficiency) Data Collection

History of Company

Whirlaway was established in 1972 and became a division of NN, Inc. in 2006. Whirlaway Corporation is a world class provider of manufacturing services to the precision metal components industry. Their goal is to produce mission-critical metal components & assemblies better and faster than they can be produced in-house. They are one of just a handful of companies in North America with the in-house ability and resources to build automated assembly and test technology directly into the manufacturing process.

Problem Statement

Whirlaway has two production facilities, each reporting efficiency in different ways. This caused inaccuracies between reports and has made measuring efficiency improvements difficult.

Whirlaway improvement projects are data driven. However, once an improvement project was targeted, the collection of data was difficult, accuracy of the data was questionable, and verifying its effectiveness was challenging.

For years, operators have reported their downtime and scrap by assigning codes to each feature that may be applicable. This data was manually entered into reports making the Interpretation of these records difficult. At times, incorrect machine codes were introduced and time records were incomplete and inaccurate.

Data collection was also being done manually, using several different methods; Excel, database, MRP system. These data collection methods required an additional four full-time associates and a part-time data entry person to support team leaders, supervisors, and engineers. Data entry would often become backlogged and impact the already unstable data reporting. At times, data would be weeks or even months behind, depending on absenteeism and vacation schedules.

Scrap entry into our MRP system was completed by two full-time associates, requiring up to 4 hours of data entry per day.

Regular management reviews of the performance of each facility were difficult because data used by one department would not reflect the same results from another.

Whirlaway developed a plan to address each of these issues. They strategized how the database should function, how data collection could be streamlined and what reports would need to be developed. The system was tested out in Excel format, and once Management agreed on the essential functions that would need to be applied to the database, we contacted outside resources to develop the system.

However, the hired firm did not meet their expectations, and so they began to search for another provider to complete their vision. SaberLogic was selected to review thoroughly what had already been developed to determine what was usable and what would need a complete restructure.


The appropriate solution involves the creation of a database that would mimic the current paper system yet collect data consistently, accurately and generate comprehensive reports. The database would need to filter data specific for each operation/machine for code selection.


  • Reduce costs by eliminating the four full-time data entry positions
  • Achieve timely, accurate and consistent reports
  • Provide a synchronized reporting system by creating a location for central reporting of shared information
  • Develop a user-friendly interface 
  • Utilize their current machine codes system for a seamless implementation process
  • Intergrade the new data with their MRP reporting system for scrap entry, reducing the need for manual data entry


Whirlaway’s new system is being used universally and has the capability to expand and link to other improvement projects, utilizing the same database structure and data entry systems.

The following results were achieved:

  • Removed four full-time data entry positions.
  • Scrap quantities are now automatically reported daily, eliminating the need for any manual entry.
  • Reports are now generated from one central location. These reports include:
    • OEE results per department and process.
    • Build Plan tracking per department and process.
    • Scrap cost/qty per machine/process/department with the option to print applicable scrap codes by the frequency of occurrence.
    • Pieces per Labor Hour reports by machine/process/department and option to print applicable codes by total minutes per category.
    • Rework data – parts scraped due to rework process.
    • Data Review Report – a filtered report that lists the status of each machine, sorted by the process. 
    • Summary report that is used plant-wide in daily production meetings. Within this report is an option to troubleshoot entry errors such as downtime exceeding uptime, scrap entry with no production data and overstated efficiencies.
  • The database uses codes and is formatted to allow ease of entry from the operator’s hard copy to the entry screen.
  • Edit options and access level restrictions are vital for the maintenance of the database.

Cost Savings

  • Elimination of 3 data entry associates positions - $140,000 yearly
  • Reduced workload for two scrap entry personnel - $35,000 yearly
  • Report Generation – reports now take 5 minutes to compile compared to 70 minutes per day for each Supervisor/Engineer/Manager. (20 + associates) Annual savings of approximately $50,000
  • Efficiency Improvements – Project driven savings equal 10-15% for OEE efficiency improvements.
  • TOTAL = $225,000/year

System Cost

  • Initial Program: $52,000
  • Program Improvement: $24,000
  • TOTAL = $76,000
  • ROI = 4 months

Future Improvements

  • Implement a paperless system, eliminating the need for all hard copy production reports and many other manually generated data entry forms.
  • Presenting necessary operating instructions to the operators electronically and updating to these instructions in real-time.
  • Integrating inventory movements into the MRP system for real-time inventory monitoring.
  • Implement a part identification bar-coding system.


Case Studies

Whirlaway Corporation

Whirlaway has two production facilities, each reporting efficiency in different ways. This causes inaccuracies between reports and has made measuring efficiency improvements difficult.  Learn how we developed a solution that involved the creation of a database that would mimic their current paper system yet collect data consistently, accurately and generate universal reports. 


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