The power of SMED – probably the best payback you’ll ever see

I attended a great workshop session last week by EEF about the need to ensure that training is designed to produce measurable business benefits. Like all good learning activities it got me to thinking. Despite the economic downturn one question I’m rarely asked by clients is: “What tool is going to save me the most money most quickly?”

If you spend a significant amount of time on set-up’s and change-over’s the answer is very simple: SMED.

In my view SMED is one of the best Lean tools available, bar none!

 I had yet another perfect example of this a couple of weeks back, with an engineering client. They make small batches of tubular steel frames for OEM’s of chair and bath products. Inevitably, batch sizes are getting smaller, lead times are getting shorter and they’re needing to develop – and prototype – more and more new products. So set-up’s and changeover’s are becoming more and more of a problem. They knew they had to improve and they were keen to learn how. The answer proved very simple: SMED!

I spent some time with the production manager and team leader planning a half-day  SMED session.  

Two weeks later we got together the team who worked in the production cell and they spent about 40 minutes learning about SMED in a practical workshop session. As always, I told them: “If you haven’t yet applied SMED then typically you can halve change-over times fairly easily”.

Then we had half an hour or so of prep. time to make sure we each knew exactly what we were going to do. We spent about half an hour video-recording an actual change-over then back to the training room. There we spent a further hour and a half analysing the video using a SMED spreadsheet, and brainstorming improvement ideas.

Result: the team immediately identified a series of low-cost / no-cost improvements. Some could be implemented immediately and others will take 3-4 weeks to complete fully. Reduction in change-over time: 52%.  

Much as I’d love to, I can’t run these on-site SMED sessions for everyone who needs them. So a while back we took all of our training materials and put them together into a simple trainng package. It’s got the analysis spreadsheet, a 2-page “how-to” guide and a short video animation with voice-over showing you step-by-step exactly how to do the analysis. And you can download the whole package from our website for only £16.95 (USD 29.50): SMED Training Package. And if you don’t find that that’s the best payback you’ve ever had for a training product I’ll give you a full refund!

Whether you use our help or not I urge all of you with significant set-up and change-over times to start using SMED as soon as you possibly can. It’s quick, simple and the payback is tremendous!

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