Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Top 14 Ways to Reduce Changeovers

If you are looking to boost your output or increase your responsiveness to customer demand but want to avoid the significant capital costs of purchasing new equipment, take a look at reducing your changeovers or setups. If you typically spend one hour to changeover a machine and run 8-10 setups a week, you are wasting a whole day a week or up to 52 days a year of potential machine time. Try focusing on these few things and you can spend less time in your changeovers almost immediately.

1.Have Everything Ready for the Changeover Next to the Machine Ahead of Time. This means everything- material, tooling, tools, fixtures, paperwork, check gages, etc. Our goal is not to leave the machine to search for anything while doing a changeover. No more walking around and searching. Create a home location staging area for these items or use a tool setup cart and make it easy to find these items in order of need during the set up all within reach. Anyone can really lead this activity once trained in what needs to be collected up-the machine operator, the setup person, the leadperson, the supervisor, a temp employee, or even one of the office employees. Even if you don’t do any of these others items list below, DO THIS ONE.

2. Use a Checklist. The easiest and simplest way not to forget any items needed for each changeover is to list everything on a checklist and use this list to verify things are not missing ahead of time. A pencil and paper is all you need to create a checklist.

3. Fix Broken Equipment. What gages, tools and equipment are broken and we force the setup operators to workaround these problems? Find what is broken and repair it.

4. Keep up with Current Events. Make sure all the data (program numbers, machine settings, etc) are the latest and greatest. The only thing worse that not having information is to have conflicting or wrong information. Review all the standard set up documents and make sure all the right information is recorded and consistent.

5. Just Ask. By simply talking with the set up operators and asking what would be helpful to make setups easier, you can find out what they need. If you ask, be prepared to act on this information fast. If not, you will be sending a message that management doesn’t care and this valuable source of information can be lost in the future.

6. Look for Cheat Sheets and Share the Knowledge. Some operators who perform changeovers have a log book or set up notes to help them remember setup information. Use this information to look for helpful “tricks” or techniques that is undocumented. Officially record this information to eliminate the need for having personal notebooks and share it.

7. Improve Homemade Work Aids. Perhaps the setup operator has made up some cool homemade work aids to position, lift, gage hold, align or perform some other function in a setup. How can we improve this homemade devises?

8. Double up the Changeover Team. Most setups are done by a single person which can add to the wasted time in a setup especially when we need to work on both sides of the machine. What would happen if we used a two person team for changeovers? More likely we can cut our setup time in half and do tasks in parallel.

9. Don’t Skimp on the Tooling. Invest in additional sets of tool holders so the tooling can be pre-set ahead of time. But before you wake up your purchasing person to start ordering all this brand new tooling, do a plant wide sort (step 1 from 5S) and see if there are any underutilized tooling that can be used. Check the auction pages for potential sources of used tooling. Go to local shops or manufacturing facilities to see if they are willing to sell any of their tooling. You don’t have to duplicate all the tooling immediately to make a big impact, target a few critical setups and concentrate on getting a few holders to start.

10. The Best Changeover is No Changeover at All. What opportunities are there to dedicate equipment to certain parts thereby eliminate the setup completely?

11. Don’t Screw Around. How much time are we spending bolting, fastening, blocking and clamping the tools? Can we reduce the number of bolts and clamps? Can you use ¼ turn bolts or other quick clamps? Can we replace manual tools with an air ratchet?

12. Throw Away your Hand Tools. Taking the last step a bit further, can we eliminate the need for hand tools all together? Instead of using allen head screws or bolts, can we use hand twist ¼ turn fastener?

13. Put it Away Later. Sometimes in our eagerness to maintain an organized workplace, we have conditioned ourselves to put things away immediately. This is a great behavior but don’t delay a setup with putting items away. Wait until the machine is up and running and then put everything back in it’s home location.

14. Don’t Go the Mountain; Make the Mountain Come to You. What resources demand the setup operator leave the machine? For example, do we have to take the first piece parts to a Quality Lab for approval? Instead of going to the Quality department what if we had the Quality department came to us? Take a close look at our quality procedures and requirements with the goal of approving the part at the machine with no waiting. What do we need to make this happen? Can’t we get the quality inspector to be at the machine when needed? Do we really need to use that monument QA equipment instead of portable check gages or go/no-go gages?


Mike Gardner said...

Nice to see you writing again, Mike.

With regard to step #14, we should go beyond this level right away and ask why we need to perform the check prior to starting production. Simple six sigma analysis will tell us the probability of failure based on historical data. If the probability is low, we can eliminate the need to hold up production for the check. If the probability is high, we need to improve the reliability of the process so we can run without the check in the near future.

Changeovers are one of the 6 big losses in most equipment-centric manufacturing and this is an importatnt topic. Thanks for addressing it, Mike.

Jamie Flinchbaugh said...

Great post.

Although it wouldn't answer your title of how to reduce changeovers, I think another key point is what to do we reduced changeovers once you've done so.

We reduced our changeover by 50 percent. So now we're trying up the machine for less time. So now we can just produce more stuff, right? Most of the time, wrong.

Too many organizations use this as an opportunity just to get more output. Instead the focus should be on doing changeovers more frequently so that you can reduce your every-part-every-time interval, be more flexible and responsive, and reduce lead time. Don't waste the opportunity to improve the value stream and instead just improve the machine.

There is also a new changeover group on LinkedIn:

Jamie Flinchbaugh

John henry said...

Just found this via a comment on my LinkedIn Changeover/SMED group.

Nothing in there to disagree with. You are right on with all 14 and I talk about almost all of them in my "Changeover Made ESEE" workshops.

Nice to see them spelled out like this.

John Henry
Changeover Wizard

Mike Wroblewski said...

Hi Mike,

It's been a busy transition with my new job however I'm glad to get back to posting lean ideas and experiences.

I agree that on step #14 we could jump to asking why on our quality checks. Some companies seem only able to jump so far or so high on this issue so make the improvement today and work on the why for tomorrow.

Mike Wroblewski said...

HI jamie,

So true on your points. Unfortunately most companies run more production with the time saved from QDC and overlook the reduction of lot sizes as the better way. Good points for a separate post.

Mike Wroblewski said...

Hi John,

Thanks for your comments. I'll be sure to check out your linkedIn group.


Unknown said...

Good points, but would stress the need for proper storage carts with shadow boards and documentation attached to the storage carts. Some companies even have covers to protect parts from dust and debris and secured areas to ensure carts are ready, complete, pre-cleaned, pre-checked and calibrated if needed.

Mike T. said...

Hey Mike. Been a while. The timing for this article was perfect for me, as we (the Corporation) have established a goal of 50% reduction on 2 machines per month for 2010.

Unfortunately there are a few snags! First - they want ME to get the improvements, not a team, no sustainment plans, but I'm held accountable for the improvements on all machines (not the supervisor or employees of the area!) Second, to your point 10, I had the same plan. By creating value streams in the facility, I can eliminate setup (or significantly reduce) through like product, thus getting more run opportunity. Its a standard objective to maximize setup. Instead, I was informed that no, they want 50% reduction PER setup, regardless of the number of setups.

Now you can see why I haven't been active for a while. I've just found out they've cancelled all speaking engagements at conferences for 2010 as well (I was hoping to attend 2). Another fun year struggling with LAME.

Now if I could figure out a way to share your post with our leadership without having it tied back to me...