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Production Sacrificed in the Name of Changeovers

Is it ever OK to value the number of changeovers you do in a day over your production numbers?  I say no.

I was with a customer recently that did just this.  The customer has done a great job of setting production goals for a press per shift.  On the production board, they write the production numbers in green if the meet or exceed the goal and in red if they do not.

Normally, this is great.  The customer is making the problem visible and easy to see.  Then I noticed that a number below the goal was written in green.  So, I asked about it.  The customer replied the operator did a lot of changeovers that day so we give them green if they do so many changeovers but don’t hit the production goal because the changeovers eat up a lot of their time.

The managers were giving a built in excuse for the operators to not meet the production goal.  If the goal was set with capability and meeting customer demand, then why is it alright to produce anything less than the goal?  This tells me they are not putting a big enough emphasis on changeover reduction.

The question should be changed to understand what is the changeover time needed.  If the largest number of changeovers I need to do in a shift is X and I am accounting for time T to do the changeovers, then my changeover time target should equal T/X.  Example: I allow 1 hour for changeovers and I need to be able to handle 10 changeovers in a day, then my changeover time target should be (60 min) / (10 changeovers) or 6 min/changeover.

If my current changeover time is more than 6 minutes, then I should be doing some sort of SMED (Single Minute Exchange of Die) activity to get the time to 6 minutes or less.

The number of changeovers can never be an excuse for why it is ok not to hit a production goal.  The mindset should be to continue to reduce the changeover time and ideally eliminate the changeover time so the production goals can be met.

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Innovation…It’s Not Just for Products Anymore

Innovation is one of the key buzzwords nowadays.  When you hear the word innovation, what do you think of?  Most people think of product or something tangible.  And that is what a lot of companies are hanging their hat on.

But innovation isn’t just about products.  Innovation is about process too.  Innovation is about setting up a process in a new and distinct way.  Setting up a process that can create a step change in results taking your business to a new level.

I’m not talking just about manufacturing processes, but also business processes.  If you can have an accounts payable process that is fast and easy would banks be willing to loan your company more money?  Would you even need to borrow money?  What about a quick, reliable process to assess the quality of suppliers?  How would that help?

Next time your company talks about innovation, bring up the idea of innovative processes…not just product.