Learning Changeover Lessons from Nascar
What if I told you that you can change four tires, get a drink of water, fill your car up with gas and clean your windshield in under 13 seconds? Most people would not believe me!
However, Nascar has figured this process out, and they do it hundreds of times per year during a racing season. What is the difference between them and you when you get a flat on the side of the road? Considering the work content is the same; they have the same amount of lug nuts, roughly the same square footage, same number of tires, and even a bigger gas tank.
The difference is Nascar made it a mission to get that car back on the track. There are thousands of hours that go in to that 13 second pit stop but when the time comes to changeover, the car only “feels” 13 seconds of work and its back to its job.
This changeover is no different than changing over a machine in a manufacturing plant, or what we call SMED (single minute exchange of dies). The objective is to externalize as much of the work from the changeover as possible without having the machine feel it. Nascar has used SMED to develop these systems.
It is a matter of priority and personnel. In an everyday setting, you alone on the side of the road have to get your tools from the trunk, jack up the car, remove each lug nut with a breaker bar, pull the tire from the trunk, place it on the hub, crank the nuts back down, lower the car, and clean up all your tools. A Nascar team has 5 operators, a one push jack, high flow gas can, high speed impact wrench, lug nuts glued onto the rim, a brand-new set of tires ready to go, and a clean-up crew. The driver never gets out of the car and all the cleanup happens after the car is out of pit lane.
Remember the work content is identical, but what separates you from them is the timing around the car, number of operators, tooling, training, and the mindset the changeover has to happen quickly. If that car is not racing, they are not making money, just like if a machine is not running a company is not making money.
Let’s get that machine out of pit road as fast as possible.