Changeover Reduction – a Way of Life, Not Just an Event

  • 19 June 2015
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Changeover Reduction – a Way of Life, Not Just an Event

Coaching For Sustainable Change

Changing over a machine from one product to the next incurs down time which, equals loss of productivity, so it is important that changeovers are kept to an absolute minimum.

The concept is straight forward; the more uptime on your machines, the more value you get from your assets and operatives. And the quicker your changeovers, the greater your flexibility and ability to do smaller production runs and still be competitive.

Despite the obvious benefits of changeover reduction, too many initiatives fail, and when we hear the comment “We’ve done SMED” alarm bells start ringing. Like 5S, changeover reduction must become a way of life in your plant to be of any value. 

Doing SMED to the workforce or for the workforce is a recipe for failure and we have seen many examples of management or the continuous improvement department forcing a changeover reduction initiative through only to be left wondering why it did not work.

Before embarking on a changeover reduction programme you need to understand why you are doing it. There has to be a business reason such as a need for increased flexibility, cost saving, improved efficiency and productivity. In practical terms this could be part of a greater strategy to reduce stock, or take on more customers and different products.

The Next Step

The next step is to involve the right people. Crucial to this step is to get the operators and technicians involved. They work with the machines every day and know them and the products better than anybody else. Team leaders, supervisors, and managers also need to be part of the process as their buy-in and ongoing support is vital to the sustainment of the SMED life style. A successful SMED programme needs positive individuals who challenge the status quo. You need them to lead the way in order to sustain SMED.

Having identified the right people, your communication and training tasks start. In our experience, operators are often taken by surprise that they are being informed about business reasons for doing anything on the shop floor. And after the initial shock in the training room has subsided the operators, technicians and supervisors show that they are well capable of understanding the need for implementing SMED and quickly become extremely keen to get going.

The Training

Training on the SMED technique, videoing changeovers on the shop floor and analysing the results afterwards unleash a multitude of ideas from the operators and technicians, which, they then put into an action plan under the guidance of the SMED specialist leading the programme. Our shop floor excellence series of training courses includes an intensive and interactive SMED course 

As the operators and technicians are 100% involved in the programme they are keen to take responsibility for the implementation and maintenance of the SMED. Competition between operators and shifts are known positive side effect of a successful changeover reduction programme.

To maintain the world of short changeover times, each changeover must be measured and the results published on the shop floor. If results against targets are not visible and managed, motivation to keep up the good work will soon fade. If you do not include changeover times as a standard KPI you immediately risk failure. Quick changeovers must become part of the job.

The remaining factor in sustaining a quick changeover culture in your plant is management support. Sounds obvious, but so often business critical initiatives such as changeover reduction disappear from the agenda once the initial enthusiasm is over. Regular checkpoints are critical and processes may well need to be adjusted or created.

How WBS Can Help

WBS Group have led several SMED implementation programmes over the years and always ensured that our knowledge and skills have been transferred to our clients’ staff to enable them to maintain the focus on quick changeover times. Using an external resource to facilitate the transition from event to daily reality is good and effective practice.

Results are usually quite impressive and achieving a 50% changeover time reduction at the first SMED event happens regularly.

See examples of our results here 

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