Changeover reduction can radically improve your bottom line and competitive edge

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Omron Industrial Automation is a leading manufacturer of technologically advanced industrial automation products and application expertise.

Russell Page of Picme discussed how within the world of lean manufacturing, changeover reduction (SMED) is a fundamentally key principle to the elimination of waste

Our second report from the seminars at the Total Processing and Packaging Exhibition


In order to stay competitive in today’s economic climate, all organisations must continually look at what they are trying to achieve and how they are going about the manufacture and supply of their products and services.

The Picme presentation started with an introduction to Shingo and SMED, the term used to represent the Single Minute Exchange of Die or setup time that can be counted in a single digit of minutes. SMED is often used interchangeably with ‘quick changeover’. SMED and quick changeover are the practice of reducing the time it takes to change a line or machine from running one product to the next. The need for SMED and quick changeover is more popular than ever due to increased demand for product variability, reduced product life cycles and the need to significantly reduce inventories.

Shingo principles say that optimum batch size occurs when the interest costs of storing the batch size of items equals the value lost when the production line is shut down.

The successful implementation of SMED and quick changeover is the key to a competitive advantage for any manufacturer that produces, prepares, processes or packages a variety of products on a single machine, line or cell.


Picme went on to outline the numerous benefits of changeover reduction, including increased output, reduced costs, more flexible production, shorter set up operation and lead times, greater availability, higher customer satisfaction, reduced inventory costs, more storage space, problems found quicker, and new attitudes to controllability of work processes amongst staff.

Value stream competes – companies don’t!

Picme highlighted how it will cause major problems if a company has done a whole lot of work on changeover reduction but its supply chain has not. It will mean that they will be forced to match the batch sizes of its suppliers which will cause problems and have a big impact on inventory. Tackling the supply chain is important!

To fully reap the benefits of a reduced changeover exercise, the complete supply chain should align batch sizes and all do SMED. Businesses must rethink logistics, source and supply locally where possible and NOT give discount for bulk. Provide discount for volume instead!

By implementing SMED as part of their Lean Management programme, processing and packaging companies will be more profitable, have a reduced cost of quality, respond quicker to market changes and have less cost associated with product changes.

Robert Brooks, Omron’s Product Marketing Manager for Pick & Place & Handling comments:

“Using automation technology is a fundamental part of achieving changeover reduction times and improving efficiencies across the supply chain. Initially, information can be gathered from data generated direct from the process, meaning uptime, downtime and changeover can be measured effectively and decisions made in terms of key areas to invest in.

Companies should be investing in technology to help reduce changeover times and help them identify potential problem areas. Technology is used extensively in enabling single button changeover, for example, guides on conveyors, motion profiles, recipes from PLCs and vision systems recalibrated. Better designed operational interfaces also provide critical information on the efficiency of equipment and provide real time information to the operator.

Planned preventative maintenance is often low on the list of priorities for many companies but can be used to alert operators to potentially costly issues and help meet Lean Management goals. A simple example would be reading servo drive torque values, meaning the control system and therefore the operator is warned in advance of any issues caused by poor lubrication.

One final note, there are still too few companies in the UK using robotic technology yet it offers unrivalled quality, safety, efficiency and speed benefits, when compared to manual operation.”

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Omron Europe

Omron Industrial Automation is a leading manufacturer of technologically advanced industrial automation products and application expertise. From its European headquarters in Hoofddorp, near Amsterdam in the Netherlands, she operates locally in every European country and is dedicated to providing unrivaled automation products and customized expert solutions for any industry.

The product portfolio includes state of the art Factory Automation services & Know-How, Sensors and Safety, Mechatronics and Drives, Industrial Components and Vision Systems.