Industry Forum

Old Way or New Way Concept on BlackboardSupply chains as we know them are not just becoming quicker thanks to technology. They are about to be reversed.

No longer will the manufacturer be the one to initiate which goods, and what volumes go to market. The pairing of smart phones and tablets with locally based 3D print shops and the advent of last mile delivery drones will shift control to the consumer.


Up until recently most of us would go to a brick built store to buy what we needed from the range of goods available on the shelf.

Our choice is limited to what the store decides to sell, or will order on our behalf and ultimately the manufacturer determines what specification, sizes, colours and styles will be available. Depending on the goods, these decisions are influenced by market research and forecasts.

For something truly bespoke you would have to search for a suitable provider and pay accordingly.

Once made the manufacturer pushes the goods out to the market usually via a series of warehouses. As shown in the diagram, the supply chain starts with the manufacturer designing, sourcing and making a range of goods.


Traditional supply chain


Today an increasing amount of what we buy is done on-line. Companies like Amazon have allowed us to take control over when we shop, as well as where and to some extent when we receive our goods.

On-line shopping and the resulting simplification of the supply chain route has already given us significant reductions in lead time from purchase to receipt.

And although manufacturers are focusing on satisfying ever more demanding consumers, they are still the ones who initiate the supply chain.



Read about changing consumer demands and how every aspect of the supply chain is being optimised by following these links to our recent blogs.

Role reversal

The next dramatic change to our supply chain model will happen with the arrival of local 3D print shops and the ever more sophisticated range of materials available to them.

Because 3D printers work from electronic files, as opposed to being limited to the tooling they are set up with, they can produce a vast range of highly customised items, one at a time. Virtually at “the click of a button”!

If you can make exactly what the customer wants (size, fit, colour, style etc.), when they want it, on their doorstep you will:

  • Eliminate the costs of warehousing and inventories.
  • Dramatically reduce the lead time as transport distances and times are minimalised.

Only making what the customer demands will move control of the supply chain to the consumer.

But what will happen to your factory?Future supply chain


In this model there is no need to have a large, centralised manufacturing plant. In theory all you may be left with is the need to turn your designs into electronic files for the 3D print shops. Car parts and personalised human body parts, clothing and edible items are already being 3D printed.

While this is unlikely to happen in every manufacturing sector, some are already making moves to adapt existing business models.

The 2015 report by Frost and Sullivan “The Future of Parts and Service Retailing in the Automotive Aftermarket”, analyses how customers will shop in the future. It predicts that by 2025, 10-15% of all global part sales will be made on-line and goes on to show how the sector is responding.

So what steps are you taking to adapt your business model? Localised manufacturing, B2C e-commerce, making money from your data?



Toolbox“That’s great, but it won’t work here” is usually among the first comments we get when we tell people we help businesses deploy lean techniques to improve their competitiveness.

Whilst most people now accept that these techniques work across more sectors than just automotive, the biggest challenge is in engaging the SME community.

In the UK the number of SMEs are growing. At the start of 2015, 99.9% of all private sector businesses were classed as SMEs (UK stats). They provide 60% of private sector employment and 47% of turnover, which is £1.8 trillion.

The pattern is similar across the EU and the States and these important economic contributors are under just as much pressure to perform as large multi-nationals.

So the question is can techniques that work in mass production environments with several thousand employees, work for companies that employ less than 250 people? Can they improve the performance and productivity in businesses that make highly customised goods, provide services, are in construction or even farming?

The simple answer is yes they can, and yes they do.



There are lots of different lean techniques. It’s not all about load levelling and keeping expensive machinery in optimum working condition.

Whether you are making goods or delivering a service you will rely at some point on people and there will be some sort of process.

A process is the combination of manpower, materials and machines (equipment) to provide a good or service that the customer wants.  The customer judges that good or service in terms of quality, cost and delivery.

Process model


The lean tools help you focus on finding better ways of combining the process inputs so that you can not only please the customer but be profitable as well.


Key approach for small teams

Whether you are in a company of 1, 10, or more you will benefit from even spending a small amount of time doing this:

  • Be sure you have a clear strategy – where you want to go. Turn the strategy into a plan with clear targets – even if that’s only two items!
  • Quickly analyse where you are against those targets, to identify the problems and opportunities for improvement.
  • Seek advice on the most appropriate lean techniques to bring about the change you need.


My recommended top tool

Understanding the 7 Wastes is key to making any improvement. It’s at the heart of all the lean tools.

You can use it if you work solo or in teams, manufacturing in an office, designing, making, selling or ordering. Eliminating wasteful tasks allows you to spend more time doing the tasks that add value, without actually working harder.

If you can produce more output by better combining your inputs and eliminating waste you will improve your productivity.

Best of all it’s really simple to learn and deploy. And you will find you can make big performance improvements for relatively little financial investment.


What can we improve using the lean approach?

So if you recognise any of these issues, there is a lean technique that will help you.

  • You need a sustainable way to reduce your costs; no cutting heads or limiting spending.
  • Poor quality levels.
  • Late deliveries.
  • A shortage of working space or lack of capacity.
  • You struggle to release your time to grow the business.
  • Can’t get your ideas to market quickly enough.
  • Problems keeping your equipment working.

You can find advice on lean techniques in many places including books, online, in our Related Posts (below) and across some of our Case Studies.  Why not contact our team for more information about how we can help your business become more competitive.




time skill graph finalPreviously we’ve blogged about how virtual and augmented reality (VR and AR) is starting to be used for off-line training prior to full scale production, and also the benefits of using Standard Procedures in training. Both methods allow people to reach a higher level of skill more quickly.

I’m sure you will agree, being able to collapse the learning curve is becoming increasingly important. Every sector is under pressure to reduce costs as well as facing a shortage of skilled workers.

The use of VR raised some interesting questions, so we set off to find out if it realistically mimics work conditions. Along the way we also found out how some companies are making best use of Standard Procedures for training.


The reality of VR and AR training

At the recent Automechanika show we went to try our hands at VR training. Under the expert tuition of Jack, from S&B Automotive Academy, we sprayed our first car door.

We asked Nathan, a Level 3 apprentice, how he found training using the VR equipment. “It’s easy” he replied instantly, of course he is of the gaming generation!

He did stress though how this technology really paid off when it came time to try the real thing.

VR Spray paint


The trainees get to learn and practise transferable techniques while building muscle memory on holding the gun at the correct angle and the speed of movement. The detailed on-screen feedback and opportunity to watch others practise, both add to the learning experience.

Jack added, “The VR gun is a replica of a real spray gun, it vibrates when the trigger is pulled to simulate paint leaving the gun. The user sets the air pressure when they set the system up… [and] can pick the type of paint, colour, finish and body part.” The user can also change the fan setting controlling the spray width and thickness of the applied paint.

S&B also do AR training in welding. The screen and sensors are incorporated into a real welding mask and links with a real welding head via QR codes at the tip. Jack promises that, “The welder is possibly the most realistic, just minus the heat”.

And the benefits of VR training continue. Not only do trainees get to have more attempts at each skill, it costs much less. Their figures show the initial outlay, around £25,000, is paid back in little over a year. Significant and ongoing cost savings are made in materials, energy, preparation time and teaching time.


Training in “the knack”

Incorporated on best practise Job Detail Sheets is the “ease” point. This is the clever tip. It explains the hidden knack that experts on the job use.

Ease point


While many of us have used this key point option, a large Tier 1 automotive supplier has taken it a step further. They run specific training sessions for employees who write these documents.

Using a piece of custom kit, they demonstrate how important using an ease point is to reduce training times and improve quality, cost and delivery performance. The ease point also helps reduces variation in time between employees conducting the same task.


A blended approach?

We think that either of these methods present excellent opportunities to improve our skills training outcomes. Or for the bold, why not try a combination of both?

Thanks to S&B Academy, Bristol; especially Jack Andrews (Sales Consultant), Aaron Lang (Senior Lecturer) and Nathan Mardani (on the S&B Bespoke Apprenticeship Programme specialising in Paint).




A portrait of an angry driver sitting in his car.Have you ever been frustrated when booking in your car in for a service or repair?

Have you been put on hold, transferred multiple times or waited for a return call? Maybe you had to wait in a queue to check in? Worse still, your car wasn’t ready at the time it was promised?

That’s just the customer facing side of the business. Technicians are faced with an ever increasing array of vehicles fitted with more and more complex technology.

Stores and reception staff are also under pressure to accurately provide parts and information within ever decreasing deadlines.

Where do we start?

Although our garage is part of the service industry, the functions they perform can be described as a process. They may not be manufacturing but they are still using manpower, materials and machines (inputs) to make changes in line with customer requirements. We, the customer, judge their output in terms of quality, cost and delivery time.

Once we understand this, we can capture each process and improve it. I use simple process flowcharts like this one.



Many of the identified “problems” can be eliminated at very little cost by applying the foundation improvement techniques; 5S, 7 Wastes, Visual Management and Standardised Work.

Once the simple, low cost solutions have been implemented, garages can look at how best to utilise the opportunities offered by cloud based technology.

Simple, low cost solutions

Take a look at the before (left) and after (right) shots of a repair workshop.

Garage before and after

While the before shot may look quite tidy, the improved layout and visual locations created using the 5S technique, resulted in a 50% saving in technician time searching for equipment.

Improvements were also made in the time taken by each vehicle to go through the shop and a reduction in damage to parts removed during repair.

Using the same techniques in the car parks and spares stores resulted in improved customer experience, time to retrieve parts form stores and part availability.

Reception and customer enquiry experiences were also improved in time and accuracy by eliminating waste from the processes and creating standardised work procedures.

So for the investment of some time, paint, hooks and labelling machines, you can improve competitiveness and profitability at the same time as enhancing customer satisfaction in terms of quality and delivery.

Workshops of the future

I recently attended the Automechanika show and saw many examples of how we can use cloud based technology to further eliminate wastes in our garage services.

The example that stood out most was the vision presented by Autodata.

Autodata currently provide up-to-date technical information for over 29,000 models using a cloud based system. Can you imagine even having the hard copy manuals for that, let alone retrieving the one for the job? Even if you did, they would appear in different formats and be quickly out of date.

The beauty of their system is that other providers can develop applications to share the same platform. This will mean that the wastes incurred by accessing separate systems for bookings, queries, ordering parts and invoicing can also be eliminated.

This system will also link with your connected car. Once your car has communicated its needs, the system will automatically arrange the details and order the parts. Then the booking slot, cost and directions will appear on your smartphone. All you have to do is press “YES”.

I’m looking forward to this day, and who knows, perhaps my car will then drive itself in as well!

For more help applying lean techniques in non-manufacturing situations contact the IF team.

52 - robot_cobot_cyborg - iStock_000025233615_FullModern operations managers are facing a tough decision, rather like Prince Hamlet in Shakespeare’s classic play.

Perhaps not a matter of life or death, but the decision to use cobots, collaborative robots, certainly raises questions about the future of our human workforce.

What is a cobot?

This new generation of robots are a world away from the giant, tireless mechanical arms we see manipulating large objects on car manufacturing lines.

I was lucky enough to interact with several at Plant and Asset Management 2016. Small, mobile and smart, they are designed to work alongside people in the workplace, instead of being fixed and caged.

This is made possible by a number of features like cameras and multiple sensors on and around the joints. When the cobot feels or senses another object in its path, like a human, it will quickly stop without exerting harmful pressure on the “obstacle”.

Well that’s the theory, I did get pushed about by one of them! It reminded me of a horse who liked to squash me in her stable.

Another differentiating feature is the ease with which they can be “taught” to do tasks. No intensive programming required. After simple guidance from the exhibitor, I could teach the robot what I wanted it to do.

This is going to revolutionise the use of robotics in our workplaces. Instead of being confined to long runs of repetitive tasks, these devices can be quickly moved and set working on a range of tasks.

And that brings us on to some of their other features.

  • They are very precise, one I saw was quoted as having 0.1mm accuracy.
  • Some use cameras that can read, like a human, information from human machine interfaces (screens to me). No cables needed.
  • Some can “feel” their way into fixtures and machines which means they can be used in existing work cells without layout change.
  • The cost of each unit is falling and ROI is measured in days. (It’s around £25k for a basic model and 195 days payback)

For me, the one that stands out most is Sawyer.

“He” has eyes!

Sawyer the cobot


It’s a psychological thing I guess, but he feels friendly and easy to be alongside. I met Sawyer on the Active8 Robots stand and taught him successfully, without being pushed about.

Giving artificial intelligence a physical look is an important feature for their designer, Rodney Brooks, founder and CTO of Rethink Robotics.

So what’s the dilemma?

As the costs of these smart and flexible robots fall, will they push people out of work?

Weighing up all the different arguments, I think our workforce will have to change and adapt.

In several cases the driver behind their development has been to meet a shortage of human workers. In others it’s been to take on the dirty, difficult and dangerous tasks.

These are my favourite examples; robotic bulldozers in Japan, and Spot the US military robot dog who scouts for danger.

Most of the developers see cobots as being another tool for a worker to use, rather than a replacement.

Of course the makers of these devices claim that cobots increase productivity. They are certainly being purchased in greater numbers across automotive, semi-conductor, electronics, food and consumer manufacturers.

For those people that are displaced it will be a case of retraining for roles where demand is growing, like those that require an artisan’s touch.

The trick is going to be matching that demand with training in new skill sets. And for those of us in improvement, ensuring we don’t robotise waste.


Zero accidentsUsually when I ask a company what their target is for their Health and Safety measure of choice, I am quoted a figure greater than zero.

“So you are planning to have an accident? A death? Time lost at work? A pollution incident or perhaps just a few fires?” is my immediate question.

This does normally make people pause and think!

We can’t justify setting an acceptable level for harm to people, equipment or the environment – unless it’s zero.

Put the boot on the other foot. Do you go to work in the morning and expect to come home with all your fingers and toes? Of course you do.

So how do we achieve this?

Over the last 4 decades I have been exposed to various H&S approaches.

In the 80’s the emphasis was on completing the “Incident, Accident, Near Miss” form. It was viewed as an administrative evil and the usual action to prevent a repeat was “told the operator to take more care”.

Then in the 90’s I was instructed that this just wasn’t enough. We needed to find more tangible ways to prevent the accident from reoccurring. I seem to remember sending a FLT driver who had hit a large pillar for an eye test and using of a lot of yellow paint to highlight obstacles!

I can feel you squirming at my unenlightened and reactive approach to safety. In this millennium I think we have tried to be more proactive. The emphasis has switched to prevention rather than taking steps after the event to stop it happening again.

Unfortunately we have then been exposed to, shall we say, some overzealous officials using the H&S name in vain.

A quick Google will reveal many ridiculous examples of H&S “gone mad”. Everything from children having to wear goggles to play conkers to removing door mats as they are a trip hazard.

Of course the problem created by the “Safety Elves” is that all the genuine advice and regulations are viewed with extreme speculation, or worse ignored. What’s even more insidious, if we wrap everybody and everything in cotton wool, how will the next generation learn to recognise potential hazards and estimate risks?

The Health and Safety Executive responded by setting up a Mythbuster Helpline where you can challenge disproportionate or legally inaccurate decisions made in the name of H&S.

At last we can have tea cakes served untoasted and understand the risks associated with doing tumble turns in the swimming pool.

Have we a sensible option?

My faith in a sensible approach to H&S was restored when I discovered Total Productive Maintenance (TPM), and in particular the Safety, Health and Environment (SHE) pillar.

In brief it encompasses both a reactive and a proactive approach to achieve zero accidents (slips, trip falls etc.), zero overburden (physical and mental stress) and zero pollution.

zero accidents overburden pollution


Over time the proactive approach becomes dominant and the culture shifts from a corrective control environment (think me in the 80’s) to one where the whole team acts together to achieve the goal of zero accidents.

Change from Reactive to Proactive Approach


To do this the team members draw from a range of SHE strategies that address both behaviour and equipment generated accidents.

This article lists some of the more common ones used by JIPM award winners. These companies have achieved many years of zero lost time and environmental accidents.

So to answer the initial question is yes, you can achieve zero accidents.

To find out how the SHE pillar can help you contact the IF team.

word Kanban written with loosely arranged tiles on an isolated background.Kanban is a Japanese word that translates as signboard or billboard. In a manufacturing setting we interpret it as “signal”.

Taiichi Ohno is credited with developing the idea in Toyota, after observing how high street supermarkets worked.

He noticed that a shopper only buys what they need, when they need it. In turn the supermarket only stocks what it can sell at any given time. The store maximises its sales for the area it has, and maximises profit by ensuring there is little waste like unsold and out of date goods.

In a similar fashion, kanbans in our factories are used to align the supply of goods with downstream customer demand and eliminate waste.

The kanban is a visual signal that gives permission, or instruction, for the receiver to do a specified action. Originally produced on cards, kanbans can also be small objects or even product bins.

How can it help you?

Kanbans are primarily used as part of a pull system. They:

  • Prevent overproduction, one of the 7 Wastes. Without a kanban you can’t produce!
  • Help keep the flow of product at a steady rate. This is very useful where a single resource, like a press, is used for multiple products, resulting in batching.
  • Reduce the amount of inventory (another waste) needed to keep a system flowing. This reduction releases cash and helps us to complete the cash flow cycle more quickly.
  • Control the amount and movement of inventory.

How does it work?

This is best explained using the diagram and starting at process G.


simple kanban


G receives an order to produce in the form of a “withdrawal kanban”. This gives permission for a person to take a specified quantity of named parts out of the supermarket.

The withdrawal triggers a “production kanban” that travels upstream to process F. It gives permission for F to make a specified quantity of the parts. These replace what was taken from the supermarket.

Rules and conditions

Kanbans have to have rules to work and these must be strictly followed.

  • No items are made or transported without a kanban.
  • Pull don’t push. The downstream process always starts the flow.
  • Only make the number of items specified on the kanban.
  • Do not pass on defective units.

To set up a successful kanban system, you need a stable production process to start with. If you have high unplanned downtime, poor right first time or lengthy and unpredictable lead times you will end up planning in excessive inventory.

If there are any flow issues with your kanban system, like you run out of parts, then treat it as an opportunity for improvement. Identify the root cause and countermeasure it.

Electronic kanbans

Electronic kanbans are used for real time signalling across the supply chain. Instead of the kanban cards being moved by people, the information in bar code form is scanned using a card reader.

It is sent through an Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), or over the web, to the upstream supplier, who prints them out for use.

Other uses for kanbans

Kanbans are so useful at waste elimination that they are also used outside the world of automotive manufacturing.

Have a look at the four case studies in Mattias Skarin’s book Real-World Kanban. In one, kanbans are used to pull software development through the design and development stages.

For help in designing and deploying kanbans or pull systems, contact the team.



Developing_Delivery_Drones_heroEvery aspect of our modern day supply chain is being optimised. Whether B2B or B2C an ever increasing array of products needs to be sourced, manufactured and delivered more efficiently.

In our last blog we looked at the reasons why the way in which we select, order and receive our goods is undergoing a radical change.

Here are 10 ways in which technology is being used to drive down costs and environmental impact, at the same time as meeting our tougher demands.

Some of these changes may sound far-fetched, but they are all being used or trialled right now.

Selecting and ordering

1. Most of us have probably already ordered direct via an app on smart phones and home computers.

Yesterday I ordered a pair of curtains on line. They were delivered free in under 24 hours. I could not have picked them up from my nearest store any quicker, or cheaper!

2. Objects or goods can also directly order a service or spare parts, if they are part of the Internet of Things (IoT).

My new British Gas boiler is supplied with Boiler IQ. It’s feasible that the first I know about a drop in performance is when the engineer phones me to arrange the repair.


3. Goods are starting to be manufactured in smart factories and cloud computing is enabling entire supply chains to work in sync, reducing inventory and waste in the information flows.

The days of ERP systems scheduling weekly buckets (in a linear fashion), will be replaced by real time integrated systems that share demand, inventory and capacity information.

4. Predictive analytics (Big Data) is increasingly deployed to predict consumer’s requirements. The aim is to make exactly what is required, as close as possible to the time it is needed.

Storage and picking

5. Intelligent storage and distribution space allocation software is being used to improve accuracy and control of inventory.

6. The use of indoor GPS systems is allowing FLT drivers to increase pallets stored or retrieved by 30% per hour.

7. Operators with wearable tech will be able to work more quickly than using hand held devices.

wearable tech


8. Collaborative robots with “vision” are being developed to work alongside human pickers in warehouses.


9. Smartphone apps and GPS, support real time integrated delivery tracking from despatch right through third party delivery companies and to the customer.

I knew where my curtain delivery was at all times.

delivery tracking


10. The growth in delivery options are, in my opinion, the most eye opening changes. We have:

  • Uberized trucking. Mobile apps can help you find a faster, cheaper carrier. Equally they allow drivers to maximise payload, reduce fuel bills and ease congestion.
  • Autonomous delivery vehicles, due in London at the end of 2016, and drones are already in use. Both need less infrastructure than traditional manned vehicles helping ease congestion.
  • Lifestyle couriers, like the lady who dropped off my curtains. There are now tens of thousands of self-employed couriers in the UK alone, usually working hours to suit themselves for 3rd party carriers.
  • Thousands of parcel shops and mini locker systems are also used by these carriers. They offer greater convenience and often cheaper services for many consumers wanting to return or receive goods.

options for delivery


Many of these systems are simple to install and use. They are increasingly affordable, scalable and can be added to existing equipment and operations.

This means your local craft brewer can access customers as readily as any large manufacturer.

If you want assistance on remapping your business, bear these developments in mind or contact the team.




Supply ChainIf you are reading this blog then I can guarantee that your lifestyle has led to dramatic changes in our supply chain and logistics functions. I know this because you are clearly not an off-grid spoon whittler in the wilderness of Alaska. You are a consumer used to having goods and services delivered direct to your home, place of work or even your smart phone.

The way in which we are selecting, ordering and receiving our goods and services is undergoing a radical change. In fact what was once considered the end point of the supply chain, the final delivery to the customer, is now no longer the end. Thanks to the Internet of Things we are now interacting with the supplier long after we have received and started using the item.

And, if we return goods that are either not what we wanted, or for recycling, then we are engaging in what is now termed a reverse or circular supply chain.

Our demands have changed

Not only do we now demand fast delivery times, but we want items delivered to wherever we are, not just to an address. And while we might be prepared to pay for express delivery, we want free options as well.

We want to choose our own set of features, not just accept an available product. This increases the complexity of the supply chains. Manufacturers are faced with more frequent change overs of equipment and potentially more stages and hand offs within the manufacturing process, as more departments become involved with making each item.

We also expect to be able to change our mind and return unwanted items at no cost to ourselves. This trend is on the rise as we buy more and more items on line.

Our supermarkets are also becoming more demanding of the manufacturers. I’ve noticed a new trend; where once we would have found separate boxes for each variety of a product, we now find the same size box with a mix of three.

mixed products


More choice in less space is good for retailers, where availability and maximising sales/m2 are key drivers. But again it adds a level of complexity to the supply chain.

Added to this, our demands are made against a back drop of rising transportation costs and increasing pressure and legislation to reduce any negative impact on the environment.

It is estimated that 50-70% of a company’s profits are eaten away by supply chain and logistics costs.

The supply chain response

Manufacturers, suppliers and logistics organisations are responding to these pressures and making changes to the way that goods are ordered, made, stored, despatched and transported.

Every component of the supply chain is under the microscope and a combination of lean techniques and new technologies are changing the way our supply chains work.

Here are a few examples:

  1. As well as eliminating waste using traditional lean techniques, the creation of value streams run by cross functional teams, works well to reduce complexity in the manufacturing part of the supply chain.
  2. Late customisation of items is another manufacturing response. Although this can work well, where flavourings or colour are added late in the process, it is not a viable option for all.
  3. The use of real time integrated systems (supported by Cloud computing), wearable technology, GPS and 3D printing is also being deployed to take waste and non-value adding elements out of storage and distribution operations.

Next week we will take a closer look at some of the changes made possible by using new technology.




stopwatch“You should always be able to take out at least 50% of the set up time”, was the target set me by my master engineer from Nissan.

In fact SMED equates to changeover in less than 10 minutes!

Having already tried videoing changeovers and studying them with a team, this seemed like quite a tall order. However I was soon to discover there was far more to reducing the time than just looking for waste on a video.

In the last blog we looked at the benefits gained by improving your set up times.

In this blog we look at a structured technique and 5 tips that will enable you to halve the time your machine is stopped. These work whether it is an old press or the latest 3D printer.


The four step technique

Step 1: Capture the current situation.

Use a video to capture the whole changeover. Break it down into work elements and record them on a Standardised Work Combination Table.

Changeover time is defined as the amount of time taken to change a process over from the last part of a production run to the first good, repeatable part of the next production run.

Changeover Time Diagram (SMED)

The phrase “first good repeatable part” is important. It’s not unusual to find processes where the first part may be correct but subsequent parts are not. Or extrusion processes where changes in material or colour take a while to be purged.

Step 2: Separate internals from externals. Decide if each element is an internal or an external using these descriptions.

Internal Element – any work element that cannot be carried out safely unless the machine is stopped, e.g. tool changes, material alignment

External Element – any work element which can be carried out safely while the machine is running, e.g. preparation of tools, materials etc.

Now re-organise the steps. Put all the external steps either before or after the machine is stopped. Look how the red stop time decreases.

Step 3: Convert the internals to externals. This usually involves some physical change to the equipment allowing you to move yet more elements to externals.

Step 4: Eliminate the waste. Use the 7 Waste technique and the tips below, to further reduce the length of the red bar.


5 Top Waste Elimination Tips

1. Reduce the need to measure and make adjustments. Aim to pick and place tooling into the exact location, first time. Use:

  • Block gauges.
    • 1 fixed datum point.
    • Colour coded location lines, or match marking, for different tools.
    • And configure and label setting gauges.

2. Simplify and standardise the tools used.

Simplify and standardise the tools used


By standardising the tooling dimensions, we could use tools that fit instantly instead of having to use adjustable tools.

3. Bolts should be treated as the enemy!

  • Rigorously eliminate them. In this example we used 1 quick release catch instead of 2 screw fastenings.

Eliminate bolts for quick release catches

  • Make sure any remaining bolt heads are a uniform size. This reduces the time it takes you to search for and pick up different hand tools.
  • If Allen keys are used, weld them into position. This saves you handling time.
  • If bolts are the only option, ensure that the bolt length is reduced to the working minimum.

reduce bolt length


4. Avoid using cranes and hoists. They are slow.

  • Use tables or scissor lifts set at the access point height. Prepare as an external.

5. Always keep a good 5S standard. External preparation, configured tooling and clean equipment all save time during the set up.

Remember every second counts! If you would like more examples or any assistance on SMED please contact the team.




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