Single Minute Exchange of Dies: Set Up Reduction, Change-over Reduction Leads to $13 million in Potential New Revenue

January 1, 2011

A recent 5-Day improvement project lead by Sr. Consultant and Lean Specialist Carlos Conejo, lead to a 66%, 68%, and 75% reduction in set-up and change-over time on three separate printing and die-cutting presses for a corrugated cardboard facility.

  • Single Minute Exchange of Die (SMED) is a cornerstone of lean manufacturing and helps improve productivity by enabling smaller batch sizes and increased production flexibility while reducing lead time.
  • SMED separates setup time into “internal” and “external” activities. An internal activity is one that can only be done with the machine stopped, such as attaching parts, hoses, bolts, tooling, etc..
  • External activity is anything that can be done before or after the set up without stopping the machine. Activities such as developing tooling cartridges that one can swap out, pre-staging of parts and raw materials, etc.
  • Achieving a quick setup and changeover of the dies or parts can be achieved by: maximizing external activities by converting as many internal activities to external where possible.
  • Huge gains have been achieved by using the SMED system. In 1982, Toyota broke new ground by drastically dropping the set-up time in their cold-forging process from one hour and forty minutes to three minutes.

The project started the week with management challenging two cross-functional teams of 10-12 employees to concentrate their efforts in creating the desired improvements.

Teams consisted of manufacturing operators, maintenance, sales, design & graphics, accounting and engineering in order to provide a different perspective to operational issues that can greatly increase daily output of production.

Time studies were conducted along with video footage. Dance charts or Spaghetti diagrams measured distance and graphically illustrated the wasted movements of both the operator and the assistant. Once the waste was identified and removed, the roles and responsibilities were synchronized, and the new improvements were mplemented. Both the improvements and procedures were validated and documented. We even had time to produce step-by-step visual controls.

A 6-S red-tag campaign was conducted simultaneously to make sure that all unneeded items were removed, and that new organizational tools, such as designated staging areas, tool boxes. More visual controls were put in place to improve communications as well as the overall process.

A Preventive Maintenance yellow-tag campaign was also simultaneously conducted on both machines including all necessary modifications and improvements.

The SMED process is a focused approach to huge gains. It taps into people’s intellectual capacity in order to gain huge rewards.

SMED is not just relegated to the production floor. This process improvement implementation also works in an office or administrative environment. Carlos Conejo has worked on over 50 projects including reducing the sales, and purchasing cycle times, and documentation set-up reduction lead times. He is a senior consultant, and Lean Specialist with the ACA Group.

The teams rose to the challenge conducting yellow tag and red tag campaigns, time and motions studies, and creating new and improved set up times. Additionally, the teams created kanban systems for more efficient and synchronized material handling. Two important benefits are the reduction of footprint on the production floor and almost 50% reduction of walking distance for one operator.

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