Setup Reduction / Quick Changeover / SMED

Reducing the time required to change over from one processing operation to another.

Reducing lead times and lot sizes requires a fundamental shift in how a company looks at setup, which is the time required to change over from one processing operation to another.

The traditional view has been that the time it takes to change a machine from producing one part to producing another part is a long, arduous process. Therefore, once a machine is “set up,” it produces as many parts as possible and builds up inventory, which ties up capital and can cut into profit.

In contrast, the JIT approach is to focus on quick changeover to radically reduce the time required for machine setup. Through this systematic process of setup reduction, it is possible to achieve increased flexibility, reduction of inventory, and faster delivery.

We have found with our clients that there are many easy changes that can be made to reduce setup time that don’t cost a lot of money. For instance, one of the companies we worked with was having a problem with lead times that were three times as long as what customers required. However, by analyzing their entire process from order placement to shipment we found that almost 30% of the total lead-time was used making setups.

Applying SMED methodology

It was a complicated setup to be sure, and the industry had long tolerated lengthy setups as “just the way these machines are.” But by applying the simple and straightforward Single Minute Exchange Of Dies (SMED) methodology developed by Shingeo Shingo at Toyota, we were able to reduce setup times by 75%. The task was accomplished with very little cost and time.

The two key ingredients were:

  • refusing to accept the status quo
  • involving the people who worked with the machine day in and day out.

The resulting change began to resemble that ultimate example of quick changeover, a racecar pit stop. We took a total team approach with each step of the setup analyzed, discussed and actions taken. It included simple things like making sure all the necessary tools and tooling where organized and placed within reach.

To learn more, here is free report on Setup Reduction / Quick Changeover / SMED that illustrates the process and the logic behind it.