Those in manufacturing will know SMED, “Single Minute Exchange of Die”. The term is used more widely than changing dies though, it is used as a general term to reduce changeover times.
In my dim and distant past, I have experience of these projects with great success as I am sure many have. But many businesses could achieve ZMED, “Zero Minute Exchange of Die”. Never heard of it? No surprise, I just made it up.
How would you achieve ZMED?
Simple really, challenge the reason for the changeover in the first place, thus reducing it to zero minutes.
“But surely changeovers are good as they reduce batch sizes, stock holding and improve agility?” I hear you cry.
Absolutely. SMED efforts are still valid for the “good” changeovers. But there are also “bad” changeovers. They can be eliminated. Here are some examples:
- A raw material runs short forcing the production run to be cut. This in turn forces another changeover when stocks are available to make up the order.
- A quality issue leads to an urgent re-production of stock.
- Stock is delivered to the wrong side of the country and it is quicker to remake the stock forcing many changeovers (sounds mad, but we have seen this in the USA).
- A run is under-produced due to yield issues forcing a second run.
- Poor stock management creating meaningless changeovers (see our article “Six Sigma Stock Management”).
- Breakdown causing a line to fall behind schedule. This can lead to unnecessarily short runs to ensure customer service is not impacted.
Many of these problems come back to data. By breaking away from spreadsheets to a centralised data model business can drive improvement on a transformational scale.