Have you wondered where you can see examples of quick changeovers and the concept of SMED applied in reality? The truth is that there are numerous different cases all around us, but they are sometimes not as obvious as they should be. Taking the time to study those cases and knowing what makes them work is important if you’re studying the concept of SMED for your own organization.
1. F1 pit stops
Any fan of Formula 1 can tell you that there has been a significant, very noticeable evolution in the way pit stops are handled in the sport throughout the years. Nowadays it’s a fine-tuned process that can take just a few seconds to complete from start to finish, and it’s often hard to track what the different crew members are doing. Slowing things down and analyzing their actions more carefully reveals an extremely precise process where everyone knows their job and does it with great accuracy and timing. Accuracy is just as important as speed here though, which has led to the development of some more unusual – but highly effective – quality control methods used exclusively in this field.
2. Plastic injection molding
The plastic injection molding industry has seen some great developments in the area of optimization and efficiency, and SMED is the likely cause for many of them. We’re already seeing some manufacturers going to great lengths to ensure that the changeover between their different production nodes is as smooth and quick as possible, and there are certain techniques that have become established industry standards. Considering how this industry is always trying to push the limits of its efficiency, it’s definitely an interesting direction to look in if you want some exciting ideas.
3. Software development
It should not be surprising that software developers are among the most active adopters of quick changeover practices. There are numerous examples all across the industry, and working with complex development systems would often have you initiating a code base from scratch in just a few clicks/seconds, as well as other similar feats of great efficiency. It’s interesting to note that this industry has adopted many lean practices without even understanding lean entirely at first, and some developer circles came up with their own concepts that closely mirror those of lean. Today, many parts of software development and delivery are executed in a way that allows workers to very quickly move from one piece of the puzzle to the next one, and without losing any accuracy in the process.
4. Easily exchangeable components
This one can be seen in many industries, and it’s a common element in any area that involves a lot of manual construction nowadays. Many parts involved in putting those projects together are now designed in ways that make them much more suitable for quick changeovers. This can go down all the way to the simplest nut, which is sometimes designed in a way that allows the worker to quickly change from one nut to the next when tightening multiple ones in a sequence. Small details like that can actually shave off a significant chunk of time from the work of such facilities.
5. Auto manufacturing
A commonly used example of quick work in general, there’s a lot to learn from the auto industry when it comes to quick changeovers. Modern manufacturing processes are designed precisely down to the last second, utilizing every available resource as fully as possible. It’s quite fascinating to see how a modern car is put together in the factory, and the typical assembly line uses various tricks to accelerate the process and relieve the different nodes of some of their responsibilities. You’ll often see the car moving through the assembly line in strange increments, but internally they make a lot of sense when you consider the transitions between them.