Quality and efficiency are crucial factors that contribute towards competitiveness and profitability in the manufacturing industry. This is the reason why lean manufacturing is perhaps the most important management approach for companies wanting to eliminate non-value adding steps in every process. Manufacturers are not only under pressure due to the increased demand for product capacity and flexibility, but also due to the need to operate with minimal inventory levels. This means that projects like Single-Minute Exchange of Die (SMED) are compulsory to maintain a competitive advantage.
Haldan recently assisted with a process optimisation project for tool changeovers at a client’s manufacturing facility in Port Elizabeth. The aim was to provide an efficient method for optimising the tool change process to reduce the amount of downtime currently being experienced during tool changeovers.
The success of this project was driven by these important factors:
This project was administered under Haldan Consulting’s service offering, Process Outsource. This service provides clients with on-site engineering professionals who specialize in helping businesses re-engineer their processes and adopt lean philosophies of continuous improvement. Brandon van Niekerk is an Industrial Engineer who is currently completing his In-Service Training at Ebor Automotive Systems in Port Elizabeth. He was assigned to be the project leader and was tasked with identifying where areas of potential improvement lie.
Ebor Managing Director, Andy Dealtry, believes that:
“The project has vividly illustrated the importance of taking a structured and objective approach to SMED - and has shown the benefits which can be achieved. Extending and institutionalising this approach throughout our operations is a key part of achieving our continuous improvement objectives and thereby contributing to the continued growth of the company.”
Using HaldanMES Reports, it was clear that Tool Changeovers was the largest contributor to their Availability losses in OEE. They realised that the goals for this project were as follows:
By following a SMED methodology, they would be able to reorganise and simplify operations, by performing as many operations as possible without the production being stopped.
During the observation stage, examining the current process revealed that:
The old method for tool changeovers was only being performed by one technician at a time, with assistance being brought in if required.
Initially, during the first phase, the project team identified which actions could be moved from internal to external. They tested this change with 10 % of internal activities being performed externally. Only one technician was used. They analysed the results and found that that they had achieved a savings in time. However, in order to achieve the goals set out for this project, they continued with a second phase.
Further savings developed from performing internal activities simultaneously, increasing the number of resources by one. They broke down internal activities into smaller steps which were easy to follow. This standardised method amounted to 50 % reduced changeover time. Again, they could monitor the improvements made, and continue to optimise the process.
A new standard work instruction was created from the best method approach. This approach added an additional resource, each with specific roles.
This improvement could only be achieved because of the focus on training staff members, continuously and repeatedly.
From the start of the project, the team decided it would be feasible to make use of on-the-job training. Staff were rotated weekly whilst they spent time with the technicians, learning basic autonomous maintenance as well as assisting with changeovers. They were also given the SMED checklist and were tested at the end of their weekly training. Whilst this allowed for monitoring of their progress, it also allowed for technicians to take ownership. They were actively encouraged to make suggestions and bring forward improvement ideas so that the changeover process could be even more efficient.
By doing this, the project leader could follow up to ensure that the new procedure was being followed and could determine when there was a need to train staff on technical elements which they would otherwise not have been involved in before.
The combination of SMED, PDCA and training increased the sustainability of the new standard work instruction for changeovers.
Project Leader, Brandon van Niekerk explains that:
“Using a reliable monitoring tool, like HaldanMES, is crucial to understanding the real savings and results. Firstly, HaldanMES is an objective tool and cannot be influenced by human factors when delivering accurate data. Secondly, trends can be monitored over time to ensure that the process is continuously improved and maintained. Now there is more time available for production, meaning that we have effectively increased production capacity, as well as production flexibility. We can also continue to optimise this process over time and extend it to other machines in the factory.”