Industry Forum

A Formula One racing car on a checkered background. 3D rendering with HDRI lighting and raytraced textures.Silverstone 2016 saw the second race of the season start under the control of the safety car. But rather than being dull, it initiated a breathtaking series of pit stops as the whole field changed from wet to intermediate tyres within a few minutes of each other.

At one point, you could actually see both Hamilton and Rosberg, the Mercedes team mates, in the pits at the same time.

Blink and you would have missed two perfectly executed, full tyre changes with no waiting. Check out the race highlights at around the 1 minute mark.

Each stop takes about 2 seconds. The fastest ever recorded was at the US Grand Prix in 2013, when Mark Webber’s stop was timed at 1.923s

Both in pits


How do they do this?

It’s all based on the principles used for SMED; the lean technique we use to reduce the time it takes to change a machine from making one part to another.

In F1, the pit stop is the equivalent of the machine downtime. The aim is to get the car back racing as quickly as possible.

F1 pit stop tricks we can use in manufacturing

Every one hundredth of a second counts on a pit stop. Here are some of the key waste elimination tips the pit crews use. These apply equally to our own machine changeovers.

1) Preparation before the stop is key

The whole crew discuss and clarify their targets the night before the race.

A few laps before the car pits, the crew receive warning and get into the right mindset.

2) Use precise locations for everything

The car drives in and stops in a precisely marked position. This ensures it is jacked straight up with no time lost adjusting positions.

3) Follow a standardised procedure

These exist for all common scenarios; wheel change, nose cone replacement, punctures, cleaning rubbish from the air intakes and adjusting the wings to alter downforce.

On race day, there is no tinkering with the procedure. Trying different methods and tooling only takes place in controlled sessions back at the factory.

4) Practise, practise, practise

The crew practise their set procedures as a team and individuals practise specific skills. The crew on the high speed air guns practise getting on the nut first time. The jack men practise clean lifts. The drivers practise stopping exactly on the marks.

5) Adapt the equipment

The most frequently damaged parts are designed with quick changeovers is mind. On the nose cone, a quick release catch is used instead of multiple sets of time consuming bolts.

The front and rear jacks have quick release levers as no powered device can be used. The front jack also has a swivel feature that enables the jack man to move out of the way quicker, speeding up car release.

6) Never stop looking for waste

The length of time for F1 pit stops has changed drastically over the years. In this video from the 1950s, it took 67 seconds to change 4 wheels and add fuel.

In the 1990s, when refuelling was still allowed, pit stops had shrunk to 7 seconds. Gone were the men appearing leisurely with wheels in their hands and removing them with hefty belts of a hammer. This table shows how the four step technique helped achieve this reduction.

Even since the refuelling ban, the wheel change element has reduced from 4s to 2s.

Your challenge: Incorporate these tips into the four step technique to further improve your own changeover times.

– July 2016 authored by a Senior Consultant at Industry Forum


Reviewing this very interesting article, one thing struck me, and the title explains it – the word ‘How’.

As an Engineer, I often find myself diving into the detail – How does this work? How to do that? Perhaps though, we should start with asking Why?

Why reduce changeover times? What is the benefit? With the F1 example, it was all about saving time in the pits in order to complete the race distance in the shortest time possible. But in manufacturing, the driving need (if you will pardon the pun) is different. By changing over in a shorter time, you can use the time saved to….do more changeovers!


Because by changing over more frequently, you can afford to produce smaller batch runs (as a shorter time will elapse before you will be making the same part again), and that’s a big benefit!


Because the shorter the batch run, the less inventory you will have to hold. If you make a part once a week, you have to make a batch big enough to cover the whole week’s demand. If you can be slick enough to changeover and make the same part twice a week, the batch size only needs to cover half the week – so the inventory carrying aspect quantity halves. If you can make a batch every day of a 5-day week, you’re down to one fifth of the cycle stock. That reduces risk (obsolescence, carrying costs, and quality issues) and releases cash. In manufacturing terms, that’s a race worth winning…

If you want to understand more about lean techniques, visit our Lean Transformation page or click here to get in touch with Principal Lean Consultant, Mike Scull. You can also give us a call on +44 (0)121 717 6600.


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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