LEAN Training – Single Minute Exchange of Dies

Although I have had just a taste of what PC Systems is all about in my limited time with the company, it is evident that a great deal of work is executed to ensure customer satisfaction, and it is amongst the company’s top priorities.  There is an ongoing effort to improve every existing product, process, and idea in order to meet and surpass customer expectation.  In order to secure customer satisfaction, it is necessary to take the appropriate steps internally to better every aspect of the company.  On Thursday, April 21, I attended a LEAN training class with a focus on SMED (Single Minute Exchange of Dies).

SMED is an important aspect in reducing manufacturing waste, much like all other LEAN tools.  It focuses on the reduction of product lot sizes by simplifying and organizing changeover techniques.  “Single Minute” implies that improvement steps can be taken to shorten changeover time to under ten minutes.  Although many of the SMED ideas can be regarded as common sense, as my boss (Engr. manager Kalen Fitch) will tell you: “Common sense isn’t always very common.”

Howard Wilson, of NWIRC, led the one day “Quick Changeover/Setup Reduction” training course at the Community Education Council in St. Marys.  A quote from the course lecture: “SMED ideas can be viewed as being pretty simple, but if applied properly, can make a complex difference.”

The course introduced the material sufficiently via PowerPoint slides, as well as by integrating a few activities.  The first activity was conducted to demonstrate all non-value added steps that may be taken during a common changeover.  The second involved splitting the group in half, and having a contest to see which team can best streamline the changeover process of the first activity.  I took a great deal of good information away from this course, and would highly recommend it.

By implementing many of the ideas illustrated in this course, I expect a great deal of overall production improvement.  Here at PC Systems, I will use my newly acquired skills to benefit the company in many ways.  I will improve mold tooling by standardizing and simplifying general design to expedite changeover time.  I plan on developing a changeover process that can allow for operators to easily change high running tooling by themselves without confusion.  Other organizational practices and strategies will be incorporated into this process improvement in accordance with SMED principles.