Apply the SMED methodology with Mapex to reduce changeover time

The SMED methodology was first developed in the 1960s and has more than proven its effectiveness, helping many companies reduce downtime by as much as 94%. Keep reading to discover how an MES system can streamline its implementation and optimize its use to promote continuous improvement on the factory floor.

Nowadays, industrial companies must be flexible and agile in adapting to consumer demands. This means manufacturing a wide variety of products in small quantities, selling them at competitive prices and delivering them as quickly as possible.

Thanks to the SMED methodology, companies are one step closer to meeting their customers’ requirements (without going bankrupt in the process). By applying this Lean technique, they manage to minimize changeover and set-up times and, as a result, increase the availability of their equipment and the productivity of their factories.

What is SMED?

SMED is the acronym for Single-Minute Digit Exchange of Die, which translates as format changes in less than 10 minutes.

The goal of this system is to convert as many activities as possible that are performed during the changeover time into external tasks (executed while the equipment is running, before or after shutdown), as well as to simplify and streamline the remaining steps.

Developed in the 1960s by the Japanese industrial engineer Shigeo Shingo, it is a methodology that was already successful in its early days. The SMED system was a key factor for companies such as Toyota, leading to documented reductions in changeover times of more than 94%.

Benefits of SMED methodology

Today, many industrial companies apply the SMED technique to all kinds of machines and equipment to take advantage of its many benefits. The following are the main advantages of optimizing changeover or setup times:

  • Reduction of non-productive times.
  • Reduction of batch size without affecting the final price of the product.
  • Reduction of inventory and freeing of storage space.
  • Increased WIP control.
  • Increased productivity.
  • Increased OEE (positive impact on equipment availability).
  • Improved business competitiveness.
  • Reduction of direct and indirect production costs.
  • Greater flexibility and agility in the face of changes in demand.
  • Shorter manufacturing lead times and reduced waiting times for customers.
  • Standardization of processes.

How is the SMED methodology applied in an industrial company?

1. Observe, understand and measure

In the first stage of the SMED methodology, we must select the equipment and analyze all the operations that are performed during the changeover.

One of the main objectives of this phase is to obtain the standard cycle time of the process and to detail all the movements that take place from the time the last good unit of a batch is produced until the first good unit of the subsequent batch is produced.

After recording the operation and analyzing the activities in depth, we must create a multidisciplinary work team.

2. Identify and separate external and internal elements

The next step is to identify all those activities that can be external, i.e. that can be performed with the machine in production and, therefore, their execution time does not affect the total cycle time of the process.

Some examples of external tasks are:

  • Recovery of parts, tools, materials and/or instructions.
  • Inspection of parts, tools and/or materials.
  • Cleaning tasks that can be performed while the process is running.
  • Quality controls of the last production run.

3. Convert internal tasks into external ones

In this phase, we define the action plan to turn each of the previously selected internal activities into external ones. We should start with those internal processes that lengthen the changeover time the most.

4. Simplify and refine the remaining tasks

Once as many internal operations as possible have been transitioned to external operations, the team should propose improvement ideas to reduce the execution times of activities that can only be performed with the equipment running.

This evaluation will be done in order to optimize these tasks, so that they can be completed in less time. For example, eliminating excessive or avoidable machine adjustments, reducing waiting times, eliminating unnecessary movements, etc.

The value of the MES system for optimizing the SMED methodology

The last stage of the SMED methodology will consist of assessing the new process and correcting any deviations as soon as possible. To do this, it will be very important to have indicators such as OEE and information on the causes of downtime in real time.

This is where the MES system comes into play. Specifically, platforms such as Mapex are of great help when it comes to:

  • Measure results and compare them over time.
  • Set changeover time standards.
  • Analyze deviations.
  • Raise standards continuously to increase factory availability and productivity.

Take a look at the following video if you want to discover a SMED use case. For more information, please contact our sales team using the form on our website.

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