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.
As a kid, I was never really into wondering how stuff was made or where it came from (which I probably why I’m in marketing & not manufacturing, but I digress) – I’d like to blame my lack of curiosity on my parents and after reading about the Top 10 Cool U.S. Factory Tours, I may have a pretty good case against them.
Our family vacations were always fun, exotic and a mixture of stress/rest so I can’t blame my parents too much… I did have amazing vactions! Now, I’m on the look-out for more than beautiful beaches! Working with TMAC has opened my eyes to how “stuff” is made and even though I’ve been on a handful of plant tours (all of which were ah-mazing!) since I started here - it seems like a great way to spend some down-time too.
Have a sweet tooth? Visit the Jelly Belly Factory in Fairfield, California!
Have a need for speed? Visit the Bowling Green Assembly Plant in Bowling Green, Kentucky!
A country boy (or girl)? See the John Deere Pavilion in Moline, Illinois and experience equipment past and present!
Baseball fans, Artists, Aviators and Dentisits Coca-Cola Addicts can each experience their favorite brands from behind the scenes. Don’t see anything that peaks your interest? Check out the Watch It Made in the USA website for their suggestions and if you decide you’d rather not brave the crowds – you can always tune in to the Science Channel and catch up on episodes of “How It’s Made“!
What are your favorite factories to tour?