Changeover excellence

Most of us will have heard about SMED – single minute exchange of die, a term originating from the automotive industry. The basic context is to externalise as many tasks as possible so that the only time spent when the process is down are the ‘internal’ tasks that can only be done then. External tasks often include preparation, getting tools and equipment ready, having the procedure and checklists there and loading up with personnel where necessary.

So is the following a changeover? When a new managing director takes over, how often does the strategy change dramatically? What happens to the status quo? If we applied the principles of SMED how differently would this look? I can see the outgoing MD sitting down and explaining the current strategy, why it was chosen, why it is working, what the main issues still outstanding are, etc. This would be part of the external activities. Internal activities might be a walkabout / talkabout very early in the new regime, the ‘standard work’ (in Lean terms) of monthly management meetings would carry on and changes would be organic rather than stepped. This does assume that things are working well in the first place but at some point radical change should not be necessary and if the process of managing the change adopted SMED principles incremental, continued growth, should be possible.

The other aspect of SMED is ‘streamlining’ where ALL activities, external and internal should be improved. On the shop floor this may mean reviewing the procedure for a changeover, introducing jigs to reduce error and variability, and providing the right level of planning to minimise time lost to unnecessary changeovers. What does management streamlining look like? How many monthly meetings are effective? Are the right topics discussed? Are you looking back rather than forwards? How long do the meetings run? Who are the ‘usual suspects’ who hog airtime? Where are the measures of supervisor to subordinate contact time? What is being done to reduce management variability across shifts? There is lots to go at here.

What are you doing? What insights can you share with us?

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About the author

Dave Dyer

Dave Dyer is a principal consultant within the Operations Improvement team in ABB Consulting. His speciality is in bringing sustainable change and operational benefits to an organisation through the engagement of its people. He hopes to share good ideas and good practice, to inform and to learn.
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