Digital Model Factory

SMED | Digital Model Factory Roadmap #6

The 6th stop of our Digital Model Factory roadmap, the 6th module of the curriculum is SMED, the type change system in single-digit minutes. All modules in the Digital Model Factory roadmap are for priority improvement systems that a business needs most. You cannot expect better results without setting up working systems in a business, establishing improvement systems to improve these working systems, and without continuous improvement. Even if you get better results, it is not systematic, it is based on coincidences, it shows variation, and variation also poses the risk of variation in achieving your goals. To achieve the goals, results that do not show variation and sustainable, are necessary. For sustainable results, fixed actions and behaviors that are locked to purpose and targets are needed. Correct management, working and improvement systems are required to produce these behaviors. Principles are also required to build, configure and develop the right systems. You cannot be sure that systems that are not aligned with principles will produce the behavior and therefore the results you want.

All modules in the Digital Model Factory are for systems that function as both a working system and an improvement system. It is one of the indispensable improvement systems for a lean production system in our 6th module, SMED. It is not possible to fully implement lean without SMED, because naturally no one wants to produce with small lot sizes when long type changeover times are concerned. In such a situation, lean principles are required for the company, and it is meaningless to recommend production in small lots. In order to achieve the desired result, it is necessary to design the systems and processes with priority first. SMED is also an important improvement system that provides the necessary conditions for working with small lot sizes.

If you were to change the type, your setup time would be an hour, of course, you do not want to change the type every day. For an enterprise working in 3 shifts, you would avoid a type change that would mean approximately 5% capacity loss and would likely produce such a job for at least 1 week. Of course, that means more stock of semi-finished products. In other words, the longer your type changeover period, the more semi-finished product stocks, the more raw materials needed, and therefore the more capital needs. There is a risk of not being able to use the materials you have when a technical change comes from the customer. Your flexibility and maneuverability decrease in time.

However, when you start to produce with small lots, for example, when you reduce the setup time of 1 hour to 10 minutes, removing and installing that mold every day means the same loss of capacity and cost for you as doing it once a week compared to the previous scenario. This gives you a lot of flexibility. There is always an urgent job in the sub-industry, you cannot prevent it. An urgent work order may arise from a customer, where flexibility is a life saver for you. You will both please the customer with your flexibility and not create extra costs for your business. Even in the main industry, there are cases where you have to make an emergency type change due to a material that is delayed from your supplier. These sudden maneuvers should not create a cost for the business and should not hamper the continuity of the shipment to the customer. The customer should not be affected by these changing situations, you can protect your satisfied customer by establishing a flexible system. On the other hand, since type change is laborious and difficult for operators and craftsmen, you will not demotivate them with constant type changes.


Unfortunately, SMED is an often neglected topic for businesses. One reason is that it requires technical depth like TPM. If you do not have the competence to analyze and redesign existing systems with an analytical approach with your technical depth, you will avoid this. Another handicap is the need for investment in very advanced SMED studies, in addition to the need for technical competence. Quick fastening systems can be very costly depending on their location. You can improve setup times to a certain extent with classical studies and internal-external analyses, but if you want to apply the “the best setting is the one never made” philosophy, you need to allocate a budget for this. The important thing is to stick to the new type change workflow that you will achieve with this investment, that is, to achieve the savings you planned. Otherwise, you may not be able to take full advantage of your investment. The obstacle here is the habits of the employees. For example, if you have invested in a quick clamping system for a plastic injection machine or an eccentric press, this plate must be connected to the machine, all molds must be adapted to this plate. Otherwise, you will both invest in plates and continue to manually connect the molds. Or, if you bought a heating system for a mold before bonding, but if the workers do not use the system in order not to burn themselves because they do not use adequate protective equipment during bonding, you will continue to heat the mold after connecting the mold to your press and you can use very detailed shift, daily, weekly, etc. If you are not following OEE, you will learn this only by chance.

As a result, it is not enough to put a system into use and to invest in it. As that system produces behaviors and actions that will keep it alive, you also need to ensure sustainability with the right control mechanisms and managerial principles. Otherwise, it is very easy to go back to the beginning. If you do not protect the systems you have installed, they are doomed to fail eventually. For this reason, the efforts made for continuous improvement and operational excellence are often not sustainable, because only the focus of operation causes organizational development not to be prioritized, but we should know that if the individuals who will ensure operational excellence do not move together towards common goals, common motives, common goals and objectives. If these are not embraced, if there are no common agendas, that is, if there is no effort for organizational excellence, operational excellence also becomes temporary. Operational Excellence is concerned with tools, its most optimistic focus will be on systems, but for sustainable results, ideal behaviors produced by systems using the right tools and guided by principles are required. Without this holistic view, there would be no operational and organizational excellence, hence no enterprise excellence.

Dr. Doğan Hasan

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