Date

January 13, 2015

Category

E-Guides

Introduction

Whether choosing iPhones, detergent bottles, industrial motors, or even bread, customers these days want more options than ever before.
Marketing and product development departments recognize this and are pushing for more variety and more customization. And, in the quest for ever-increasing market share, they usually get what they want, leaving the manufacturing departments tasked with a production quagmire.
Whereas in the past an organization such as Procter and Gamble might order one or two different sizes or colors of a plastic container, they now order four sizes in twelve different colors. Whereas the local commercial bakery used to bake white, wheat and rye, they now bake low-carb, multi-grain, gluten-free, nut-free, and a myriad of other varieties. This is happening everywhere, regardless of the industry or end product. These factors all contribute to one thing – increasing frequency of production line changeovers.

Changeovers

While it may be good for sales, customization and variety has the less than desirable effect of putting greater pressure on manufacturers to produce smaller production runs of more products. Equipment that used to run for weeks at a time making the same product now needs to be stopped and started—and stopped and started— multiple times, changing over from one product to the next with increasing frequency.
Product and package customization is not the only reason for this shift. Across the board there is a quest for faster turnarounds, smaller inventory levels, and just-in-time (JIT) delivery.
Unless it is carefully monitored, managed and optimized, production line changeovers (the time from the last part produced to the time the first good part of the next product comes off the line) leads to ineffective equipment utilization and lost revenue.
Changeovers cost more than just poor equipment utilization.  In fact, it is estimated that for a one-hour daily changeover on a fairly significant packaging project with the line running 240 days per year, the annual cost is $1.8 million.
Because they are now performing significantly higher amounts of changeovers, manufacturers who are still allocating the same amount of time to a changeover as they did 10 years ago are losing money with increasing frequency.
The need for increased efficiency of the changeover process has never been higher.
Often company leaders don’t realize how much time they are wasting because they aren’t measuring and observing operations at a sufficient level of detail. A prime example of this is when Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) figures are calculated without taking changeovers into account. This makes the figures look good, but fails to address the real issue. Inefficient processes go unidentified and unresolved.
On the other hand, manufacturers that do recognize the need for process improvement are reaching into the toolbox, using well-established methods to solve these problems. Lean and Six Sigma tools are principle among them because they make it easier for companies to identify where they are being wasteful, what types of waste they are dealing with, and how to address them.
Profits can be made or lost in the changeover process – and Lean tools can help you come out on top in competitive situations more often than not.

Let’s Talk Changeover Time

Changeover can be divided into the 3 Ups:
Tasks commonly performed during changeover include
  • Getting tools and replacement parts
  • Cooling down or heating up
  • Making mechanical modifications
  • Calibrating and adjusting
  • Disposing of spent parts
  • Putting tools and supplies away

Faster Changeovers = Multiple Benefits

Many Lean experts compare lean tools to the philosophy of a NASCAR crew during a pit stop. A good pit crew will move efficiently, saving a little bit of time each time the driver pulls in. Over the course of the race, these seconds add up and ultimately can make the difference between winning and losing. Lean follows the same thought process. Small changes can yield big results.
Quick changeovers do more than save time, they also
  • Reduce defect rates – Quick Changeover reduces adjustments as part of setup and promotes quality on the first piece.
  • Reduce inventory costs – Elimination of, or reduction in numbers of batches, and their sizes, allows for recovery of operating cash and manufacturing space.
  • Increase production flexibility – Increase output and improve timeliness of response to customer orders.
  • Improve on-time delivery – Quick Changeover supports the ability to meet customer demands.
No matter how many pit stops or changeovers your production line requires per day, you can focus on applying Lean Six Sigma methodologies to the steps you are taking in the changeover process to streamline them.

Case Study

Four Specific Steps that are needed to Reduce Changeover Time

There are many methods to reduce changeover time. These selections from Tim McMahon’s A Lean Journey represent a solid “core four” to focus on.
  • Eliminate non-essential operations – Adjust only one side of guard rails instead of both, replace only necessary parts and make all others as universal as possible.
  • Perform External Set-up – Gather parts and tools, pre-heat dies, have the correct new product material at the line… there’s nothing worse than completing a changeover only to find that a key product component is missing.
  • Simplify Internal Set-up – Use pins, cams, and jigs to reduce adjustments, replace nuts and bolts with hand knobs, levers and toggle clamps… remember that no matter how long the screw or bolt only the last turn tightens it.

Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control (DMAIC)

Coming up with new, more efficient ways of doing things is only one part of the process. Lean Six Sigma tools are more than just a technical approach. They encompass a comprehensive methodology and mentality that must be understood, valued and shared within your structure. In order to achieve what lean processes make possible, employees across all levels of your organization must “buy in” and actively participate and bringing these changes about.
As Jim Jelinek, co-author of Quick Changeover Simplified: The Manager’s Guide to Improving Profits with SMED was quoted as saying in IndustryWeek, “It is imperative that a company attempting to implement a quick setup and changeover program clearly articulate to the workforce what such a program means both to the company and to the employees. Their commitment requires your (management’s) commitment… and that means in action as well as words…if you want to influence behaviors, you need to address your people…you need to know their beliefs and do they know yours?”

Examples of Lean Six Sigma Tools

According to die shop manager Jesse Lang:
  • “The training program is a statement of our values. My hope is that it gives motivated people opportunities to demonstrate skills and what they can do, how they want to grow. Without the program, someone might be a wallflower….this might motivate people to strive for more.”
  • “Once we started advertising it on the floor, lots of people were really interested; and stoked to have the opportunity to apply. Definitely a positive response from employees.”
  • “The talent’s not there to recruit in the numbers that we need. Needs will increase. We hope that some of those in the program turn into star players and move into leadership roles in five to ten years, whether it is a technical or management role….it only helps us serve our customers.”
  • “This gives motivated people opportunities to demonstrate skills and what they can do, and how they want to grow. Without the program, someone might be a wallflower. This will motivate people.”
  • “We’re really happy. The president of the facility, when he took over the position in February he said pretty early on that this program isn’t a “nice to have”; it’s a “must have.”

The results add up!

According to die shop manager Jesse Lang:
  • “The training program is a statement of our values. My hope is that it gives motivated people opportunities to demonstrate skills and what they can do, how they want to grow. Without the program, someone might be a wallflower….this might motivate people to strive for more.”
  • “Once we started advertising it on the floor, lots of people were really interested; and stoked to have the opportunity to apply. Definitely a positive response from employees.”
  • “The talent’s not there to recruit in the numbers that we need. Needs will increase. We hope that some of those in the program turn into star players and move into leadership roles in five to ten years, whether it is a technical or management role….it only helps us serve our customers.”
  • “This gives motivated people opportunities to demonstrate skills and what they can do, and how they want to grow. Without the program, someone might be a wallflower. This will motivate people.”
  • “We’re really happy. The president of the facility, when he took over the position in February he said pretty early on that this program isn’t a “nice to have”; it’s a “must have.”

Developing an engaged workforce is key to making lean processes work

According to die shop manager Jesse Lang:
  • “The training program is a statement of our values. My hope is that it gives motivated people opportunities to demonstrate skills and what they can do, how they want to grow. Without the program, someone might be a wallflower….this might motivate people to strive for more.”
  • “Once we started advertising it on the floor, lots of people were really interested; and stoked to have the opportunity to apply. Definitely a positive response from employees.”
  • “The talent’s not there to recruit in the numbers that we need. Needs will increase. We hope that some of those in the program turn into star players and move into leadership roles in five to ten years, whether it is a technical or management role….it only helps us serve our customers.”
  • “This gives motivated people opportunities to demonstrate skills and what they can do, and how they want to grow. Without the program, someone might be a wallflower. This will motivate people.”
  • “We’re really happy. The president of the facility, when he took over the position in February he said pretty early on that this program isn’t a “nice to have”; it’s a “must have.”
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