February 22, 2021

SMED - A Flexible and Powerful Tool

Lean is a beautifully worked out and integrated philosophy –clear of thought, focused in intent and involving remarkably uncommon common sense.

Because of this underlying philosophy, many of the tools of Lean can be easily adapted to new scenarios – the principles taken from one context and applied to another. One such example is SMED.

SMED (Single Minute Exchange of Dies), also known as Changeover Reduction, is a case in point.

Process downtime due to product changeovers is dead time. Traditional approaches will try to minimise the impact of these changeovers by amortising the cost through longer production runs. This leads to other problems such as increased inventory levels, transport costs, lead times and, surprisingly, quality failures (perhaps more on this phenomenon another time).

However, because Lean classifies the changeover time as non-value adding time to be minimised, the focus moves to reducing change overtime instead of amortising it. And when that time has been reduced the calculations for economic batch size change leading to reduced inventory levels, transport costs, lead times and quality failures, which will all deliver their own cost and efficiency savings. Suddenly, a company’s whole operational design and approach can be changed.

Indeed, changeover time is probably the most significant determinant for how your organisation operates.

Even the external supply chain can be altered. Changeover Reduction is certainly a powerful tool!

What about the flexible claim?

Any interruption to a desired process or activity is amendable to Changeover Reduction techniques – maintenance periods, project implementations, breakdowns, cleanouts, decontaminations, process testing….. the list is long.

The more one considers the tool, the more one finds applications even outside of normal production environments:

  • housing voids between tenants for rented accommodation
  • offloading of oil tankers in port
  • refuelling of nuclear power stations
  • loading of wagons with goods
  • and many many more

Changeover Reduction – a powerful and flexible tool.

If you would like to find out more about the applications of Changeover Reduction (or SMED) and how it can benefit your organisation, please do contact us.