SMED Process and Benefits

SMED, which stands for single minute exchange of dies, is a strategic process that reduces the amount of time to complete equipment changeovers. The process consists of the following steps:

Organizations can add steps to right size SMED to their specific requirements, but the basic principles remain the same. It starts with discovery, continues with optimization and streamlining of the process and finishes with standardization and team training to make the changes stick.

In a nutshell, SMED is designed to bring the time needed to complete equipment changeovers into the single digit numbers. While different companies have different needs, the SMED process remains the same across industries.

Outlining the major steps of SMED is a worthy exercise.

Identify the Process:
Asking probing questions to discover what is really going on when applying SMED is very important. What cells and/or operating machines struggle with the longest delays or downtime? On the flip side, which have the fastest changeovers? What are the underlying root causes for those outcomes? Do you need new processes, or do you need to adjust what your organization is currently doing? Is everything up to standards and meeting requirements? What do the current processes produce or inhibit for the company? These questions can help you make those conclusions.

Separate External and Internal Elements:
For context, external elements are defined as tasks and protocols that can be accomplished when the machine or operational function being evaluated is working. Internal elements, in contrast, are defined as tasks that must happen when the machine is shut down. Separating these two provide a fresh view of the issues and what can be eliminated from your changeover processes.

Convert Internal to External:
Can any internal activities be converted into external ones? This is beneficial since it does not require shutdown to complete and frees up time and resources for quicker and smoother changeovers.

Create and Standardize the Process:
Create targeted processes that can be easily standardized for each specific piece of machinery. Continue fine tuning the process through feedback communication with the operators and other team members. Leverage project management tools to sustain alignment and execute tasks with efficiency.

Train the Team:
Once the above is all completed, new and existing teams must be regularly trained to maintain the optimal changeover time. Without this training, the team may fall back into their bad habits and the process will fail. One tip is to consider having the previous team train the next team to pass on the knowledge and experience gained effectively.

Benefits of SMED:

Quick Results:
The biggest benefit of the SMED approach is how quickly it can change turnover times. As its name indicates, when everything is applied properly, the minutes between equipment changeovers can get down into the single digits.

Elimination of Waste:
SMED also excels at eliminating waste both internally and externally during the manufacturing process. It keeps companies on track and helps employees focus on faster changeover times and more efficient processes.

Streamlined Processes:
At a higher level, SMED offers insight into how the entire facility performs. When the five steps of SMED are followed, processes are simplified, optimized and standardized. Teams are trained routinely on the processes which leads to better retention and adherence. These result in better and more repeatable outcomes, particularly in complicated manufacturing situations.

SMED, the single minute exchange of dies, is a strategic process that reduces the amount of time and optimizes the process of completing equipment changeovers. Within the larger lean manufacturing framework, SMED is only one piece of the puzzle, but a critical one to sustain production and maximize efficiency.

Please contact us for help with planning and implementing SMED or any other lean manufacturing process needed in your facility.

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