Nowadays, with a global free-market economy, which is characterized by strong competition and variability occurring in macro- and microenvironments, enterprises implement tools and methods that allow for collecting current and reliable data (qualitative and
quantitative) concerning various parts of its functioning and, with adequate processing and presentation, indicate the areas for process improvement and waste reduction, leading to the improvement in the rate of return. One of the methods to ensure more efficient
manufacturing is SMED. With the adequate implementation of the stages of this method, changeover time is minimized, thus reducing costs of production.

Worker using a stopwatch to measure changeover time

What are changeover times?

In manufacturing, changeover is the process of converting a line or machine from running one product to another. Changeover times can last from a few minutes to as much as several weeks in the case of automobile manufacturers retooling for new models. Reducing changeover times became a popular way to reduce waste in Lean manufacturing after Taiichi Ohno and Shingo Shigeo popularized the SMED (Single Minute Die Exchange) method in the, now famous, Toyota Production System (TPS). The terms set-up and changeover are sometimes used interchangeably however this usage is incorrect.

How can digital work instructions help?

Digital work instructions, such as REWO, are ideally suited to quickly document SMED procedures because they are more accessible, easy to use, and promote a continuous improvement culture. When changeover procedures exist only in paper binders, referencing, and using the standards becomes a burden.

Electronic work instructions can be used on tablets or smartphones; and with the addition of rugged cases, these devices can be used in just about any environment. Without the obstacle of binders, mobile tablets encourage your workers to utilize standards during SMED procedures and promote a culture of continuous improvement.

Unlike their paper counterparts, electronic work instructions ensure that old standards aren’t floating around the production floor for operators to use. These give you confidence that operators are working from the current best practices for your changeover procedures.

What are the benefits of decresing changeover times?

A successful changeover improvement will have the following benefits:

  • Lower manufacturing cost (less equipment downtime)
  • Smaller lot sizes (more frequent product changes)
  • Improved responsiveness to customer demand (smaller lot sizes enable more flexible scheduling)
  • Lower inventory levels (smaller lot sizes result in lower inventory levels)
  • Smoother startups (standardized changeover processes improve consistency and quality)