Feb 18 2014

Pretty much anyone who works in manufacturing will be familiar with the term changeover & almost as certain they’ll know of or be familiar with quick changeover or SMED (Single Minute Exchange of Die).

The technique used to reduce the time needed to change from one type of product to the next, whether a stamping machine, can fillers or any other production equipment is the same. Not that all consultancies or “experts” agree on the exact steps (I found anywhere from 4 to 8 steps in a Google search).

However, the concepts are definitely the same throughout – separate internal from external, move all internal together & do external before or after, streamline or improve all aspects (further reducing time needed), eliminate adjustment/setting/run up time – all variants on that theme.

Likewise, there are various tasks we do outside of work, where we apply the same thought process. Not necessarily with SMED or quick changeover in mind, but we apply it at home just as we do at work.

When I spend a day working through my “honey do” list (Honey do this, honey do that…) I will do all the outside jobs together, then the inside jobs, or vice versa. OK, in SMED this is not exactly what is meant (not even close actually), but the thinking is the same, do things together that make sense to be done together – in my case I avoid shoes & coat on & off and avoid unnecessary walking inside & out. In the case of SMED, do the things that can be done while the equipment is running, save ONLY the tasks that MUST be done while the equipment is stopped for when it is stopped.

Going out to the grocery store? Do you grab the dry-cleaning to drop on the way? Saving a trip out, no different than saving a trip back to the stores for the correct bolt for the die. More closely aligned – ensure you have all the necessary tools & equipment with you when you stop the machine, nothing worse that a machine sitting idle while the technician is in the stores searching for the right nut.

Have to be out during the afternoon? Do you prepare a meal in advance, leave it in the oven ready to quickly finish off when you get in? Even my wife, while doing laundry, will separate out the loads in advance, to ensure that when the machine stops, the next load is ready to go in. The washing machine is then running continuously (if you asked her, it does so all week long J).

Arguably these examples is about managing your time, thinking ahead & maximising the time you have to get the most done with the least amount of wasted effort/time.

Maybe these aren’t the best examples, but the thinking behind much of what we do in the Lean world, is, to many people common sense. Sadly though, it is not common practice in many organisations. The next time you have to change a machine from one product to another, or reload material, see how much common sense is applied, if it were at your house, and was your time & money being spent to change it, would you accept the process as it is?


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