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SMED: Production changeover within minutes!

In this week's article, we explain more about the definition of the lean method called: SMED - Single-minute exchange of die. We also describe the importance and steps needed to implement this method correctly for manufacturing.

The definition of SMED

The concept of SMED is one of the many lean production methods to reduce waste and have an efficient way of manufacturing. As the demands of clients increase so does the flexibility of the production machinery. Big production machines are usually hard to reprogram, and it could take up to 24 hours before these are reinstalled and ready for production of a specific and new product. SMED stands for: Single-minute exchange of die, which means in short that this method dramatically reduces changeover time. A ‘die’ is a specialized, and in most circumstances customized cut or shape which is used as a mould. In the ‘old days’ when the final product run was done, the equipment shut down. When the machine was at a full stop, the line would be cleaned and tools and programs adjusted or reinstalled for the next project. After several hours of adjustments, the production would start again for a new project. The SMED method aims to reduce the time of this process, from end to beginning. The switch from one production to another without losing too much time.

Why implement the SMED method?

Besides the apparent reason that SMED reduces changeover time, which makes a production process as efficient as possible, another reason for the usage of this method is the reliability of the delivery time as the production can be started a lot quicker than before, which in return also reduces stock. Makes sense, when you have a machine that takes a lot of time and effort to reprogram you tend to produce more and save it in stock so you do not have to reprogram the machinery that often. Products in stock take up space which in turn means costs for the warehouse. But, with production machines switching within minutes, you can produce the products on demand. Also, think about the competitive market nowadays, technology is moving fast, and you have to be on top of it with your production. You might want to optimize your product, and with SMED this can be implemented in the production process within minutes. So, by implementing the SMED method it saves you money, and it is efficient. These are obvious reasons to implement the process. But how is this method cost saving and efficient? Read below the benefits when the SMED process is implemented correctly and how it can be cost saving:
  • Reliability of delivery time
  • Reduction of stock and less warehouse space needed
  • Easy optimization of a product
  • Flexibility in planning which in return enables the manufacturer to be more responsive to their clients
  • Machines increase in work rate
  • Safety increases as proper guidelines are set up during the switch

How to implement the SMED method

First off, you start with checking your current working method with a critical and analytic eye. Then the first step to implement the SMED method is to differentiate the ‘externals’ from the ‘internals’. An external is something that can be prepared in advance, and an internal can only be executed when the production line is stopped. Then you want to make sure that you convert as many internals to externals as possible. When this step is done, it’s time to review all externals and optimise these, so they take less time to prepare. To make sure the switching process goes as smoothly as possible for future production, a report and script are prepared with all the details to switch the machinery for a specific product. The document made is always open to improvement, and the step-by-step guide will continuously be optimized.

Separating internals and externals

When you want to switch a process or convert a machine, some parts can be changed whilst the equipment is running. Other parts that need to be adjusted require the production line to come to a full stop. So the main difference between internals and externals:
  • Internal processes require the equipment to fully be at a standstill to be able to adjust a different production. One example of an internal activity is the removal of an old tool and placing a new tool.
  • Externals are parts that can be replaced while the machine is still operating. Examples of external activities are preparing the tools for the setup but also fetching raw materials for the production process. With the SMED method, one of the key points to implement this method, as mentioned above, is to switch internals elements to externals. You can guess why; the less internals you have to adjust, the less time the machine needs to be at a full stop.

SMED method at Rompa

Rompa already uses various lean methods and techniques to improve the workflow, combat waste and improve the overall production line. One of those methods that Rompa implemented is SMED. Two interns at Rompa investigated the importance and possibilities to have a lean workflow for the company. Read about their findings here!

Contact Rompa for more information

In this article, we have explained the basic understanding of SMED, but there is so much more to it! Would you like to know how the SMED method is being implemented in our production machines? Or are you interested in finding out more about this topic? We would be eager to tell you all about it! Would you like to speak to our specialists about this? Don’t hesitate and contact us! We at Rompa are always happy to answer all your questions and give you additional advice.