SMED (Single Minute Exchange of Dies)

I heard a statement recently about how SMED was something you do to ‘polish’ a process, after you have done everything else you need to do to that production process.

When I worked through the experience part of gaining my Engineering Chartership I had never heard of the term SMED, it was just something you did to streamline a process – to remove the ‘dead time’ when changing over. Since the lean movement has grown (where I first heard the term SMED) we understand better the need for flexibility within production environments and how quick changeovers can really help.

As you can imagine, I disputed the statement that SMED was something you do at the end. I’m sure that you agree that it is just good working practice.

If you aren’t familiar with SMED it is a really useful method for taking the work out of a changeover and minimising the time where the process is not running at full speed. A common approach is to:

1 - List all of the activities required to changeover.
2 - Reorganise the activities so that there are less to do when the process is stopped (see diagram below).
3 - Find ways to eliminate adjustments (so that it ‘just works’ once the changeover has been completed).
4 - Eliminate variations, ideally so only one type of changeover takes place and so efficiency is gained from practice and consistency.
5 - Find ways to reduce the overall level of effort required – come up with smarter ways of doing the tasks that are still left.

If you are looking to undertake SMED activities in your business please don’t forget to include all of the activities and machines / people that are involved with the changeover. Sometimes the process that is holding everything back is an ancillary piece of kit, so include everything!

Giles Johnston
Smartspeed Consulting Limited
Taking the frustration out of on time delivery.