Single-minute exchange of die – or SMED – is a methodology for rapid production, which can cut down on the waste generated through excessive waiting in most production lines. It relies on extensive knowledge of the production process and the ability to identify points for potential optimization correctly. When applied successfully, SMED can significantly speed up the production speed of many types of facilities, and it’s currently seeing widespread use in many industries.
Important Points to Keep in Mind
There are some important details that are to be observed if you want to ensure that your own implementation of SMED is successful. Note that in many cases of modern organizations, you may already have some of these factors in place, so you may not even need to make too many adjustments to the way the company runs in order to see SMED applied successfully.
It’s important that you have a good enough separation of internal and external processes. That way, you can replace individual entries in a chain without affecting the whole system. Adding to that, as much as possible should be setup externally as opposed to internally. This can give you more freedom of choosing which components to be replaced with more effective counterparts, especially in situations where you have to consolidate multiple different components into the same one.
Another good point to remember is that you should be looking to standardize the functionality of the components in your processes, not the actual components themselves. This means that you should ultimately strive to make everything in your organization as modular as possible, with components that are easily interchangeable.
Implementing Intermediate Steps
In cases where you cannot create a good enough separation between the steps of a process, it may be a good idea to implement additional, intermediate steps that allow you to better step out from one part of the process and into the next one. These intermediate steps may sometimes not have much of a purpose other than allowing you to consolidate several other steps, but they are still important to have nonetheless.
Some companies take this step even further and may create intermediate “jigs” which can be used to set the current state of an element in order to move it to another part of the production process more efficiently. These jigs can be commonly seen in testing environments and other similar situations, and they’re an important tool when you need to frequently run specific procedures on different components of your production process.
Last but not least, you should think about parallelizing different steps of your process in order to ensure that swapping can be done more efficiently. This requires you to have a good understanding of the separation between internal and external processes in your organization, but once you have that down in place, you can often create some very optimized solutions by simply running multiple processes in parallel. Note that this is not universally applicable and in some cases you’re simply not going to be able to run specific tasks at the same time.
Observation is Key
In the end, the most important step to keep in mind when you want to ensure that your SMED implementation is successful is to be patient and keep observing the current situation in your organization. There are different things you’ll need to familiarize yourself with before you’re able to make an informed decision regarding the optimization of some processes, and you should not rush. After all, the whole point of SMED is to allow you to run things more optimally, so it doesn’t make much sense to ruin the whole process by rushing just one step of it.
Implementing SMED in an organization can lead to some very noticeable long-term improvements, but it has to be done carefully, with significant attention to some specific details. As long as you have these fundamental aspects down correctly, you can see some very significant improvements in the performance of your operations.