What Is SMED?
SMED stands for Single-Minute Exchange of Dies. As the name implies, the goal of SMED is to reduce die changeover time to under ten minutes.
When setup times are long, manufacturers prefer to run as many pieces of possible. That doesn’t fit with kanban philosophy (smaller, frequent runs), so SMED aims to lower setup times to make small runs a viable option.
1. Workplace organization
Everything has a place, and everything in its place. Tools should be available in their correct locations so you’re not scrambling for them during setup.
Think of workplace organization like working in your kitchen: all your kitchen tools have their specific drawer, and if something is out of place it throws
off your cooking game. It’s the same for manufacturers. If everything is taken from and put back in one designated spot, employees don’t have to hunt for tools, which cuts setup time significantly.
2. Visual Management
The purpose of visual management is to quickly identify and correct abnormalities. One familiar visual management practice is placing tools on a shadowboard. When the tools are removed, it’s obvious which ones are gone and to which slot they should be returned.
Visual management synthesizes with kanban techniques. Kanban cards are one type of visual management; if the card is moved from its “idle” location, it indicates an action must take place.
Humans are overwhelmingly visual creatures; communication is quickest and easiest when there are obvious visual cues. That’s why important traffic signs are all large, simple, and fun-colored.
Benefits of SMED
- Assists kanban techniques with low inventory levels and high turnover rates
- Lower overall manufacturing cost due to less equipment down time
- Quicker and better response to customer needs
- Mechanical, procedural, and organizational improvements
- Reduced waste - mostly time and manpower, which translates into money saved
The definition of waste in the context of SMED is “any activity that consumes resources but creates no value for the customer.” So, as we mentioned above, running around looking for unorganized tooling is waste.
SMED is another piece of the lean manufacturing puzzle. To be lean, you have to be highly efficient in your processes, and flexible to changes in the economy and with your clients. Every minute counts. Every bit of time saved results in cost savings for both the manufacturer and the customer.
SMED helps manufacturers shave off those precious minutes to improve lead time, reduce wasted manpower, and offer higher quality service to clients.
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