23 Apr 2019 TAPPING HIDDEN CAPACITY: Increasing Throughput Via Changeover Time Reductions
IN THE TIME WHERE THE CONSUMER IS KING,THERE IS A COMPELLING NEED FOR GREATER CHOICE
Greater choice means additional products and while some of the volume may be incremental, most of the time it also results in less of the baseline product. This means shorter production runs and a need to frequently change from one product or model to the next product or model. This results in a loss of capacity during the changeovers. Unfortunately, after some time, in most companies, it becomes normal and an accepted loss of uptime, which translates into a permanent loss of capacity. However, by employing changeover discipline and Single Minute Exchange of Die (SMED) techniques, the loss of productive capacity can be significantly reduced.
Early Career Changeover Frustration
Due to the above limitation, we decided to deploy changeover parts in a storage box immediately adjacent to our production equipment. In addition to the changeover parts, we stored routine repair parts that we might use on this equipment should a problem occur. A spare set of tools was also placed in the storage box in case the mechanic would never arrive without all things being present. Still, the time to transit the building was excessive and invariably, the mechanic was already working on some other issue in some other part of the plant. To address this, we trained our operators to complete the changeover themselves. To ensure that the changeover would be completed, and the equipment restarted by the operator performing the changeover, we moved changeovers away from shift change and towards the beginning of the production shift. All other teammates were given specific assignments to assist the operator. Since it was our team performing the changeover rather than a mechanic, there was a sense of urgency and the changeover duration was reduced by well over 50%. More importantly, the startup was quicker with less waste. The tapping of hidden capacity, in this case, was minor, probably around 2%. The impact was primarily felt less over time.
Next Major Challenge
Dramatic changeover reduction from 8 hours to 15 minutes in another operation, and from 4 hours to 1 hour in another and several other companies were accomplished. Employing tools such as Single Minute Exchange of Dies (SMED) is very helpful. However, they focus on only a portion of why changeovers have taken longer than necessary. These tools focus on removing all tasks that can be performed at another time being done outside the changeover window. These tasks include pre-positioning all change parts, tools, and other materials at the production line, installing quick-change connections, building a modular drop in assemblies, etc. These are all useful, and I encourage their use. What is missing is the team enthusiasm about a team goal and the reward system by management. The other two principles worth repeating are (1) that changeovers are measured from the last good part to the first good part and (2) that there is an illusion of labor savings by reducing the team size. In my experience, when you attempt to restart production, you need the entire team present and ready. Waiting for the next shift or group of operators is often times inferior to the same team that shut down, performed the changeover, and started up the new product. There is more of a sense of teamwork and urgency, and it is simply a smoother startup if done with the same team all the way through.
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