Lean & Operational Excellence

Setup Reduction/SMED

Lengthy setups are one of the absolute worst time-wasters in industry! Nothing else happens while in “Setup mode” – no products are being made, inventory is stuck, and people are only able to do that one thing, which means they aren’t helping get products through the system and out to the customer. Every minute we can save from a setup is another minute you and your employees can spend helping your customers, your patients, and your business.

Setup Reduction (which started out as Single Minute Exchange of Dies (SMED) from Shigeo Shingo) is a great place to begin with Lean. Often a source of frustration for employees, as well as a major contributor to extended lead times, setups add no value to the organization. A necessary step in any process, but a step that needs to be reduced as much as possible so people, machines and equipment can get back to doing what they do best – making product and helping your customers. Other benefits include:

  • Batch sizes can be reduced (or eliminated!)
  • Ability to produce a greater variety of parts
  • Greater schedule flexibility
  • Improved customer service
  • Reduce inventory
  • Reduce occupied floor space
  • Increase productivity
  • Reduce cost
  • Less setup waste
  • Better overhead absorption
  • Less likely to have large-scale quality problems
  • Is an enabler for other Lean tools
At New England Lean, we help walk you through a 5-step approach to Setup Reduction:

1. Document all setup steps (often using video)

One of the best ways to analyze a setup is by recording it and watching it later. This allows the team to witness things objectively – without getting in the way of the setup itself – to get an accurate view of what’s involved. It’s also more easily to identify those operations that can be immediately eliminated.

2. Identify Internal vs. External operations

Internal Setup – Those setup operations that must be performed while a machine is idle or stopped, such as mounting or removing tooling,

External Setup – Those setup operations that can be performed while a machine is running, such as transporting tooling to and from storage

3. Separate External/Internal operations

Perform External operations while the machine is running. Not only is this more efficient, this also gives you an opportunity to make sure everything is ready for when the machine is ready for the Internal steps of setup. Waiting until the machine is idle is the wrong time to find out something is missing or damaged!

4. Convert Internal operations to External operations

By moving steps from Internal to External, you’ll gain even more available production time.

5. Optimize setup steps

For the step that are left – seek to minimize the time it takes to perform them. For instance: instead of using bolts, can you use quick-clamps? Can you standardize things that lessen the time it takes for finer adjustments?

Our staff is uniquely qualified in this area, as we have former Ops Managers and Industrial Engineers on staff. We’ve lived this life for decades. In fact, our President Paul Critchley delivered a presentation at Eastec on this topic to a standing-room only crowd; the only presentation of the 3 day conference to have done so. Consider these examples:

  • A CT client reduce their setup time on a milling machine from 55 minutes to under 10 for less than $50,
  • A CT client reduced their setup on a lathe from 40 minutes to under 1 minute, which allowed their inter-cell inventory to go from $20,000 to $0, all while reducing customer lead times from 3 weeks to 2 days,
  • A MA client reduced setup in their EDM department by 40%, earning an additional 30 hours of available production time, per week!