Single Minute Exchange of Die, often shortened to SMED, is a Lean principle that involves the minimisation of changeover times. More specifically and as the name suggests, the changeover time will be reduced to a single-digit length of time, which can be anywhere from 1 to 9 minutes and always less than 10. In a nutshell, SMED reduces the amount of time it takes to switch between running one process to running another, which brings a significant improvement to cycle times across your workplace.
SMED is applied in one form or another across all kinds of work environments, from retail shopfloors and busy restaurants to healthcare facilities and F1 pitstop crews. The approach involves monitoring how long each operation takes and then finding ways to speed them up without causing a reduction in quality, consistency and safety.
This requires in-depth analysis so that constraints, bottlenecks and even the smallest inefficiencies can be identified and removed, resulting in changeover times of less than 10 minutes.
As with many Lean principles, SMED has its origins at the original Toyota factory in Japan. In the 1950s, the company discovered that a particular process wasn’t running anywhere near peak performance due to time being wasted when tools were switched over between different phases of the manufacturing process. This took between two and eight hours, which meant long periods of reduced production that greatly affected profitability. By the 1970s, following multiple stages of continuous improvement, this changeover had been cut down to a very impressive three minutes.
The key thing to bear in mind when it comes to SMED is that it doesn’t simply apply to manufacturing processes. Whilst it can certainly be implemented across your production floor, SMED is also relevant to everything from your office environments to your fleet of vehicles. Any form of changeover can be targeted and improved, which leads to a powerful cumulative effect.
If you’re uncertain how to begin the SMED journey, we have two solutions. First of all, we can visit your premises to determine where time and inventory are being wasted, followed by helping you to understand how to add value to your business by implementing QCO (Quick Change Over) methods that streamline and standardise each process. Secondly, we provide an informative QCO Workshop that can be delivered to your teams on your site or via Zoom, helping them to take ownership over the efficiency of your changeovers.
We’re dedicated to helping businesses in multiple sectors to maximise efficiency and productivity whilst minimising waste by applying SMED across their premises. To book an initial consultation that will help you to unlock the power of SMED and other Lean management methodologies, get in touch with our team on +44 (0)1482 296451 or fill in our contact form.
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