Successful SMED Implementation

Posted by on Dec 26, 2009 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

This fall I taught a series of lean classes for a customer in Xiamen, China. During the session on SMED, the manager of the metal stamping area came to me and ask me to visit his plant and give him some suggestions on how to reduce his change-over time. He told me that his average change-over time was about 90 minutes and that he makes an average of 1300 change-overs per month.

The next day I visited his plant and he walked me through his current change-over process. As I suspected, very little pre-work was being done, like staging the new die, making sure the needed tools were at the site, etc. We discussed separating internal setup from external setup and the steps that could be done externally. I told him the change-over time goal should be less than 10 minutes. He shook his head and said that would be impossible.
During my last visit before Christmas, I was asked to return to the metal stamping plant and review the progress made. The plant manager was very excited to see me and explained that he had reduced the change-over time from 90 minutes to 20 minutes by removing external setup. He stated that he had budgeted three new stamping presses for 2010, but now that he had reduced his change-over time significantly, he would only need to buy two presses and save the company the expense of the third press. During our discussion, he told me that first piece inspection was now one of the major contributors to change-over time and was somewhere between 6 to 8 minutes. Discussing it further, he told me 60% of his change-overs resulted in no problems found during first piece inspection basically because of simple parts. Here was another opportunity to further reduce change-over time on 60% of his volume with minimal risk by starting up these parts prior to first piece inspection and then have the inspection done afterwards. This would reduce his change-over time on simple parts to between 12 and 14 minutes. I asked him to go through PDCA cycle again to further reduce his time to less than 10 minutes, which now seems very likely.
This is an example of a successful implementation. The plant manager had a need and a desire to get better and was willing to make the necessary improvements to do so. I think the key word is desire, because many companies and managers have the need but do they have the desire to make it happen? Lean and Six Sigma are all about change and change is the hardest thing to accomplish! More about the desire to change in a future blog.

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