How to Reduce Changeover Time in Your Plant

Why is changeover time important?  How to define a changeover and quantify.

Changeovers are a part of manufacturing processes that are not dedicated to one specific product.  Many companies utilize the same line, machine, or process to make many different items or products.  This introduces changeovers as a natural part of normal daily operations. Changeover time is the total time between last good part and first good part of the new item or product. This is not when the machine gets back running (unless it is making good product from the first cycle or piece).  Do you track changeover time and what do you count? It is important to consider including:

  • All of the time associated with the changeover
  • Any preparatory activities

Some of the common causes of high changeover time is lack of materials, lack of tools, lack of focus from associates, the need to “dial in“ the machine or process, and labor intensive processes to remove parts of the machine and install new parts of the machine.

How does changeover time affect manufacturing costs?  How to improve your operating performance.

Delayed changeover times decrease the availability of manufacturing a product. Continuous process improvement teams and manufacturing optimization teams will focus on some simple strategies for decreasing changeover time and increasing run time, thus reducing manufacturing costs.  These improvements can have a large impact on the manufacturing productivity of the area.  With a low cost, positive impact on the financial performance as well.  Changeover time is one of the many losses that a plant has.  Some of these losses are known and easily identified.  Some other losses are more difficult to identify and are hidden.  Reducing or eliminating these hidden expenses with changeovers will positively impact margins, reaction time to changing customer demand, and/or capacity constrained equipment.

Steps to reduce the changeover in you plant.  How to improve today.

Improvements do not have to be long, costly, or require an army of experienced manufacturing process improvement professionals. There are many ways to get improvements today. To begin, observe the current state of your changeovers. With a simple stopwatch, notepad, or camera with video capability, observe a changeover on one of your machines.  Make sure to capture the manufacturing process as it is finishing and making good product. Continue observing and making notes throughout the changeover process, recording names of associates, number of associates, machine number, previous product number and the next product to be run.  Capture as many variables as you can during this data gathering activity.  Note whether associates had to leave the job to get required tools. If they did, how do you ensure you have the tools you need before you start?  Do you have the materials for the next product you are running, could they be staged at the machine prior to stopping the previous product?  Do the changeover associates leave to get help, or someone with expertise?  Perhaps documented procedures and training would eliminate that loss of time or having enough help at the beginning of the process.  These simple aspects of the changeover can be rapidly improved through focused improvement activities.

How can Performance Solutions by Milliken Help?  How to grow a process improvement culture.

Performance Solutions by Milliken has been partnering with world class companies, both large and small, with SMED (Single Minute Exchange of Dies) or quick changeover for decades.  Our team-based approach helps to leverage the power of the floor level associates to be problem solvers and improvement advocates across your facility.  Can you imagine your associates helping you improve as part of their normal daily activities?  By creating processes to analyze and improve your changeover process, PSbyM will teach you how to assess your current state and implement structured, reliable, repeatable processes allowing you to sustain the gains you make for a long time.  Contact us today to get started.

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