The best improvement tools or programs available provide little benefit to a manufacturing workplace if the workforce doesn't actively commit to participating in them. That was part of the message delivered during "Quick Setup & Changeover: A Guide to Improving Profits Using SMED," a presentation delivered at the 2009 IndustryWeek Best Plants conference held in Nashville.
Sharing their insights on the topic were Jim Jelinek, general manager of manufacturer Moog/Flo-Tork, and Fletcher Birmingham, president of Summit Business Consulting. Both also are co-authors of Quick Changeover Simplified: The Manager's Guide to Improving Profits with SMED, published by Productivity Press.
Quick setup and changeover refers to that time it takes for operators to change over from one job to another. Or, as Birmingham defined it, "the last good piece to the first good piece." Valuable production time is lost in the downtime between those two events.
It is imperative, explained Jelinek, that a company attempting to implement a quick setup and changeover program clearly articulate to the workforce what such a program means both to the company and to the employees. Their commitment requires your (management's) commitment, he emphasized. And that means in action as well as words. "If you want to influence behaviors, you need to address your people," Jelinek said. "You need to know their beliefs and do they know yours?"
Jelinek and Birmingham discussed the idea of a "mini setup reduction," a small version of the real program to demonstrate the benefits that can accrue from implementing quick setup and changeover. They then offered a six-step setup reduction process that included the following steps: explain the benefits; involve the operators; separate the external activities; convert internal activities to external activities; streamline efforts; and standardize setup practices. (Internal activities are activities that must be performed while the machine is off. External activities are those that can be accomplished while the current job is still running, in preparation for the next job.) Additional tips included:
- Videotaping a setup operation prior to improvement efforts is important to establishing a baseline of the current operation. The question is: Who should do the videotaping? The presenters suggested that an operator should perform the function rather than an engineer or manager. Otherwise the operators may view the project as a time study as opposed to a learning experience.
- Who sets the improvement goal? Birmingham suggested that operators may be the most appropriate persons to establish the goals. An improvement goal of 10% to 15% is likely too low.
- Whenever possible, convert internal activities to external activities. For example, try to pre-heat, pre-set and pre-shim as many things as possible for the next job while the current job is still running.
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