Too often, companies are quick to implement new equipment in order to meet increased customer demand for products, without maximizing the utilization of their current equipment. Equipment changeover time is one area of the business that is often ignored and companies accept long changeover as a part of doing business. The changeover time of equipment can be a Hidden Factory just waiting to be uncovered. It is very common for equipment changeover from one product to the next product, to take a couple hours for completion. Companies often make several product changeovers per week, consuming hours of potential production time. If we could somehow reduce the changeover time from hours to minutes, we could have a dramatic effect on providing additional production capacity. This is what Dr. Shigeo Shingo discovered while helping to develop the Toyota Production System. Dr. Shingo terms his discovery SMED (Single Minute Exchange of Dies), and it prescribe that changeover time should be less than ten minutes for a given product.
What does SMED Involve?
Companies can systematically reduce changeover time on their equipment by following a simply four step method.
SMED Four Step Process
Finally, after completing the SMED four-step process a new changeover standard can be developed using the remaining internal and external steps. The new changeover standard should prescribe the changeover sequence and operators required to complete the changeover on the equipment.
For most companies that have not participated in any formal changeover reduction process on their equipment, applying the SMED approach typically reduces the changeover time by 50% when first applied. By continuing to work as a team, planning changeovers, practicing, being innovative and standardizing changeover methods equipment changeover times can continue to be reduced. Companies should strive to achieve the goal of single-minute changeover times and recapture the loss capacity due to long changeover times.