How SMED Is Essential to Lean Manufacturing

Written By: Leah Gourley
  • 6/1/2020
  • Read Time : 2 min
Understanding SMED

 SMED, or "Single Minute Exchange of Dies," is a system for decreasing your changeover time. It involves identifying and eliminating any unnecessary part of the changeover process. When a piece of manufacturing equipment needs to be replaced, the changeover time can lead to downtime and increased manufacturing costs. SMED is an essential part of lean manufacturing that will lower your waste and boost your productivity.

Let's take a look at how:

What Is SMED?

The SMED system is a principle of lean manufacturing, which is the process of doing more with less while delivering maximum value to the customer. Its purpose is to reduce the time it takes to complete changeovers in equipment machinery. This encourages plant employees to make sure to perform as many steps as possible before the changeover occurs, to have teams working in parallel, and create a standard and optimized process of working.

The goal is to reduce any changeover from hours to under 10 minutes, hence the "Single Minute Exchange of Dies." Dies refers to specialized manufacturing tools, which need to be re-setup for any changes in production models, resulting in downtime. Japanese industrial engineer, Shigeo Shingo, pioneered the SMED system and was able to reduce to the changeover times in the companies he worked with by an average of 94%. It is not always possible to reduce your machinery replacement time to under 10 minutes, but it is possible in most cases.

Implementing a SMED system 

Before you start implementing a SMED process, you must evaluate which part of your current processes is the least efficient. You must analyze the following elements of production before you pick which target area to apply the SMED principle:

  1. There must a high duration of changeover time
  2. There must be variation in the changeover time
  3. There must be regular changeover times, so you can measure performance
  4. You must have employees who are familiar with the equipment
  5. The equipment is a bottleneck for other processes

Identify pilot area

A critical part of identifying your test pilot area is ensuring your employees are confident and motivated to improve performance. Once you have identified your test area, you must understand the internal and external components of the changeover. You must have both an understanding of the work that is going on, and knowledge of the amount of time it took.

Identify internal and external components

The SMED system is made up of these two elements during the changeover process.

  • Internal elements: These are the processes that must be completed while the equipment is stopped.
  • External elements: These are the processes that can be completed while the machinery is running.

Once you have identified which elements are external, you should complete that changeover process while the machine is still running. This step alone can dramatically decrease your changeover time.

Convert as many internal components to external

The SMED process focuses on making as many elements as possible external. You should analyze each component to see if you can work on the changeover while the machine is still running. This process reduces your overall changeover time.

Streamline Internal Elements

Once you have identified your external elements, you must streamline your remaining internal elements. This step should involve optimizing and streamlining your overall changeover processes.

SMED and Digital Manufacturing

As manufacturers enter the digital age, SMED can be massively streamlined. With a connected manufacturing line, manufacturers can gain more data on the operation and efficiencies of their parts. This makes it easier to identify which parts reach optimal performance, and which can be streamlined.

The more complicated elements of the manual changeover can also be simpler using digital work instructions. Learn how employees can easily understand and visualize each step of the changeover process using augmented reality, further boosting productivity and worker safety.

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About the Author

Leah Gourley

Leah Gourley is a Digital Content Marketing Specialist based out of PTC's Boston office. She enjoys creating and sharing content surrounding the latest technologies that are transforming industries, including augmented reality and the industrial internet of things.

How SMED Is Essential to Lean Manufacturing | PTC
Discover how SMED plays a key part in lean manufacturing to lower your waste and boost productivity.