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Quick Changeover as a Competency

Do not do this to yourself.

The dreaded changeover.

Can’t I just let my team stretch their legs and let them run?

It seems like all changeovers take place on the first shift, and the other shifts get to run forever.

Fortunately, there is a way out – and it's in your head and heart.

Driving the manufacturing and engineering organization forward for Quick changeover is a journey well worth taking and for all the right reasons. Better throughput, open capacity, variation reduction, and having the ability to respond when you need to. The SMED concepts you have read about seem like fairy tales sometimes, but it is the journey that is most important. Get it into your head now: Set – Run, Set – Run!

The changeover is like the “punt” in football. It is the only time you voluntarily give back the ball to your opponent, and you want to do this in the best controlled approach. This is also why it is the most practiced play in football.

I had a chance to witness a Single Minute Exchange of Dies early in my career in 1988. I was at the Mitsubishi plant in Normal Illinois. The press line I was reviewing had started a changeover and had the first next panel running with the new job while the last press had the previous job running out of the backend? That’s fast! Unheard of at that time!

Many of us have significant revenue tied to multiple customer demand rates in our machining/press lines and we should be dancing in the streets when we have the chance to compete for this type of work. So, let us get busy and let us get real. The changeover activity is the best competitive indicator for us on the shop floor and against our competition.

  • The Shop Floor Organization:

The changeover is truly part of production operations and should never be treated any other way. Why move your line team when you changeover? Can they not help to get you up and running faster? If this is the case with your team, you may need to rework your approach. You should have the ability to accomplish changeover on all 3 shifts. Do not pigeon-hole yourself so that you only changeover on one shift ever. Flexibility and the ability to respond is very important in manufacturing operations.

  • Measurement Systems for Changeover:

Do you have a “Best in Class” target that is developed based on the best-case scenario with a Gantt chart, that shows what each of the team members should be doing as your master plan?

Who is changing over the tool?

Who is putting the new stock up on the front of the line?

How about the new containers on the back end?

Quality and Labelling Paperwork?

You must have some target to put out in front of the team on a regular basis.

Do you have a Digital clock on-line showing everyone where you are, as to the changeover target?


Get yourself clear on your measurement system of last good piece to first good piece. This is about throughput, not the changeover activity completed. If you do not push this concept, then your lost time ends up in Never Never land.

  • Use the great Eye in the Sky. Today cameras are one of the cheapest things you can buy, and if your IT group can help you with some form of DVR, then you have the ability to analyze your changeover on a regular basis. I used to do this while on endless NVA conference calls on different topics. Either analyze what happened yesterday or watch what is going on today. Internal/External Analysis: Obviously watching your changeovers allows you the opportunity to review what is taking place inside and outside of the actual exchange process. Perform the external activities of the next changeover while the current part is running. Sitting down with your team and doing a simple spaghetti chart on the white board can help too. Remember that asking them questions that they can answer and understand is key to getting real engagement from your folks.

  • Drive Engineered Solutions for Variation Reductions. Positive location for both 2-way and 4-way positions will help you get out of the long sacrifice of never-ending adjustments. Get your old timers involved. You may have to spend some money on a few base plates, but you should be celebrating the reduction of one minute here and there.

  • Gages and Sensors Dowelled into the Tool. There is a reason why jobs do not come up and run. Where is my engineering help here? How do I get a positive location every time inside the gaging and make the sensors? Could it be that I am handling or dropping the product into the tool? I need to sink my gages on one side for sure, and if I am going to have any adjustability can I keep it contained to the one side please? This will make us work on the issue at hand. Also is there a master panel or product available, that I scribed up and outlined the inputs when I was running well?

  • Help yourself by Managing your Last Panel Analysis. Use this process as a predictive and preventative approach to tooling maintenance. If you want to changeover and fix your tool while in press, then you are behind the times and riding the bench for your team. A mature process can be done any time before you pull the job and should include representation from the tooling guys, your quality department, and your production supervisor who is likely tired of managing the sort process. Do not forget to pull some panels or a strip for your tooling guys to send back to the shop.

  • Home Line and Home Bolter Disciplines. Each tool should have a designated location to run on for variation reduction purposes. Why accept longer set up times because it ran on the other side last time? When your folks say that they want the flexibility to run it anywhere, it may be time to go through their OEE numbers on that line and coach them on other opportunities.

  • Keeping it simple. Scheduled quantities match up with Raw material amounts and Finished Goods containers. It never matches up correctly, but you can really help yourself by running out the line and moving on to the next job. Match up your tooling personnel with families of tools to stay close with how they run and the necessary PM processes to keep them running well. Have the next tool nearby if you do not have sliding bolsters. Do not let the tool get pulled and play the empty storage bay game. Put some pressure on your guys with a helicopter pad close by the line. Of course, use a common preflight checklist to make sure you are ready, set, go before you go into the changeover mode.

What kind of challenges are you facing today with your changeover process?

What kind of Changeover analytical tools work for you?

Have you modified your pre-flight checklist lately?

What are you learning from your team members?

We at Dynamic Improvement Group can help you on this journey of variation reduction…

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