Single Minute Exchange of Die (SMED) for Lean Manufacturing Success

Single Minute Exchange of Die (SMED) for Lean Manufacturing Success

Summary: Single Minute Exchange of Die (SMED), is a lean manufacturing technique developed by Japanese industrial engineer Shigeo Shingo. It’s about reducing changeover time so that it takes no more than ten minutes, improving flexibility, productivity, and cost-effectiveness. The idea behind SMED is to convert internal operations into external ones wherever feasible while using parallel operations; this changes changeover from a stopping process into a seamless transition, such as quick modifications among pit crews during races.

What is SMED?

SMED, which stands for Single Minute Exchange of Die, is a lean manufacturing technique that focuses on reducing the time it takes to changeover from one product to another. The goal is to minimize the setup time to less than 10 minutes, enabling manufacturers to achieve faster production changeovers and respond to customer demands more efficiently. By optimizing the changeover process, companies can enhance their flexibility and increase overall productivity.

The importance of reducing changeover time

Changeover time refers to the duration it takes to switch production equipment or tooling between different products. Traditionally, changeovers were time-consuming and involved complex procedures, causing significant downtime and hindering productivity. By implementing SMED techniques, manufacturers can eliminate non-value-added activities, reduce changeover time, and increase machine uptime. This allows for smaller lot sizes, just-in-time manufacturing, and improved overall operational efficiency.

Implementing SMED for Lean Manufacturing

At the heart of the SMED process is the swift conversion of internal setup activities to external ones, reducing the time required for changeovers. Shingo’s methodology emphasizes converting as many changeover steps as possible from internal to external, with the overarching goal of slashing downtime.

The key elements of SMED implementation

To implement SMED, you need to systematically address both the internal and external elements of the changeover process. SMED converts internal setup activities, which can only be performed when the machine is stopped, into external activities that can be completed while the machine is running. By separating internal and external setup tasks, manufacturers can significantly reduce downtime and improve production efficiency.

Streamlining the changeover process

To achieve a successful SMED implementation, it is crucial to streamline the changeover process. This involves analyzing each setup step and identifying opportunities to simplify or eliminate unnecessary actions. By critically evaluating the setup activities, manufacturers can identify bottlenecks, reduce the number of changeover steps, and optimize the sequence of operations. Streamlining the process saves time, minimizes the risk of errors, and improves overall quality.

Converting internal setups to external setups

A key principle of SMED is converting internal activities to external ones. Manufacturers can significantly reduce changeover time by transforming setup tasks that require the machine to be stopped into activities that can be performed while the machine is running. This entails designing equipment and tools that allow for quick and easy adjustments and creating standardized procedures and checklists to guide operators during the changeover process.

Simplifying the production system

Single Minute Exchange of Die (SMED) implementation goes hand in hand with simplifying the production system. This involves eliminating unnecessary complexity, reducing the number of components, and standardizing parts and processes. By simplifying the system, manufacturers can minimize the time required for changeovers and improve overall equipment effectiveness. Additionally, a simplified production system enhances the ability to adapt to customer demands, reduces costs, and increases the overall efficiency of the manufacturing process.

Continuous improvement through SMED

SMED is not a one-time process but rather a continuous improvement journey. Manufacturers should strive for Kaizen, which means continuous improvement, to sustain the benefits of SMED implementation. Regularly reviewing and analyzing the changeover process, collecting operator feedback, and seeking opportunities for further optimization is essential. By fostering a culture of continuous improvement, manufacturers can ensure that SMED becomes an integral part of their lean manufacturing strategy and continuously reap its rewards.

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The Pit Stop Approach: SMED in Action

SMED isn’t just a concept; it’s a proven lean tool utilized across various manufacturing solutions. By applying the SMED system, companies can effectively reduce changeover time, from the internal setup of tools to the swift integration of new dies or molds. Shingo’s methodology, focusing on minimizing changeover steps and maximizing external operations, holds the key to reducing downtime, enhancing productivity, and ultimately, securing success in the dynamic world of manufacturing.

The analogy of a pit stop

To understand the practical application of SMED, we can draw an analogy to a pit stop in motorsports. During a pit stop, the racing team aims to change tires, refuel, and make necessary adjustments to the vehicle in the shortest time possible. Similarly, SMED minimizes the time it takes to change dies or molds in manufacturing processes. By adopting a pit-stop approach, manufacturers can achieve quick and efficient changeovers, allowing them to respond swiftly to customer demands and gain a competitive edge in the market.

Applying SMED techniques to the manufacturing process

You can apply SMED techniques to various manufacturing processes, regardless of the industry or product. Start by identifying the internal and external setup activities involved in the changeover process. Evaluate internal activities, such as disassembling and cleaning parts, for opportunities to convert them into external tasks. Achieve this by designing quick-release mechanisms, simplifying tooling, and optimizing the layout of workstations.

Reducing setup time with SMED

SMED aims to reduce setup time to less than 10 minutes. To achieve this, you need a systematic approach that analyzes each changeover process step and identifies improvement areas. You can significantly reduce setup time by eliminating non-value-added activities, optimizing tooling and equipment, and training operators in efficient changeover techniques. This results in a more agile production system that handles smaller lot sizes, customized orders, and faster response times.

Achieving single-digit changeover time

By implementing SMED, manufacturers aim to achieve single-digit changeover times. They strive to complete the entire changeover process, from the last good part of the previous product to the first good part of the new product, in less than 10 minutes. This efficiency level allows for greater production flexibility, reduced downtime, and improved customer satisfaction. Manufacturers work towards this ambitious goal by continuously refining the changeover process and applying SMED principles.

Examples of SMED Success Stories

Real-world examples of SMED implementation

SMED has been successfully implemented in various industries, revolutionizing their production processes. One notable example is Toyota and its Toyota Production System (TPS). Toyota embraced SMED as a core principle of TPS, leading to significant improvements in productivity, quality, and customer satisfaction. By reducing changeover time and streamlining operations, Toyota achieved higher production efficiency and responded quickly to changing market demands.

Toyota and the Toyota Production System

Toyota’s adoption of SMED and integration into the Toyota Production System has become a benchmark for lean manufacturing practices worldwide. The company focused on separating internal and external setup tasks, simplifying tooling, and standardizing processes. This allowed Toyota to achieve rapid changeovers, maintain high equipment utilization, and minimize waste. The success of TPS and SMED at Toyota serves as inspiration for other manufacturers striving for operational excellence.

Benefits of SMED for Manufacturing Productivity

The implementation of SMED brings numerous benefits to manufacturing productivity. By reducing changeover time, manufacturers can increase machine uptime and produce a wider range of products in smaller lot sizes. This enables just-in-time manufacturing, reduces inventory costs, and improves operational efficiency. Additionally, SMED enhances equipment utilization, reduces the risk of errors and defects, and empowers manufacturers to meet customer demands with greater agility.

FAQ | Single Minute Exchange of Die (SMED)

SMED helps eliminate waste by reducing changeover time and optimizing the production process. By streamlining internal and external setup activities, manufacturers can eliminate non-value-added tasks and focus on value-adding operations. This leads to increased productivity, reduced downtime, and minimized inventory waste.

Yes, SMED principles can be applied to various industries beyond manufacturing. Any industry that involves changeovers, setup processes, or equipment adjustments can benefit from SMED techniques. Examples include healthcare, food processing, logistics, and service industries.

Some common tools used in SMED implementation include standard work instructions, quick-release mechanisms, visual management systems, setup checklists, and time-monitoring devices. These tools support the efficient execution of changeovers and enable continuous improvement.

No, you can apply Single Minute Exchange of Die (SMED) to both large-scale and small-scale production systems. The principles of SMED are scalable and adaptable to various manufacturing environments. Whether you operate a high-volume production line or a small-scale batch production process, you can implement SMED to reduce changeover time and improve productivity.

The time required to implement Single Minute Exchange of Die (SMED) depends on several factors, including the production process’s complexity, the organization’s size, and the level of existing setup optimization. Single Minute Exchange of Die (SMED) implementation is typically a gradual process that involves analyzing the current setup, identifying improvement opportunities, implementing changes, and continuously refining the process. It can take several weeks to months to fully implement SMED, but organizations often start seeing significant improvements in setup time and productivity early in the implementation process.

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Arne Reis


Arne Reis, Founder of flowdit

Combines practical innovation with a focus on quality.

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