Changeover – Creating Flow and Eliminating Waste

For those in the manufacturing industry, changeover is a term which is used when talking about converting a particular machine, or a line from creating one product to another. The most well known example of this would be in the automotive industry where it is necessary to do a changeover when updating to a new make or model.

Depending on what is being made, changeover can take anywhere from a few minutes to several weeks. In the example of a motor company changing from making one type of vehicle to another, it can take weeks because nearly everything has to be retooled, dies need to be exchanged and just about everything in the line has to be adjusted.

Reducing the amount of time changeover takes in any facility is an important goal. Not just because it will reduce the down time and increase the amount of production which can be achieved, but also because it allows for more changes. If a changeover takes a week to complete today, for example, the company can’t perform a change very often or it will have far too much down time. If, however, that same changeover process can be completed in a day or less, it is possible to change more frequently.

The Benefits of Frequent Changes

There are many benefits associated with being able to make a production change more frequently. Each industry will be different, but reducing the length of time changeovers take will allow for greater flexibility. A company that orders a small amount of one product, for example, may not have to wait until another company orders the same product to get theirs made. The manufacture can do a quick changeover and complete the small order without sacrificing a significant amount of wasted time.

Related to this is the fact that a facility can reduce their inventory costs when they are able to changeover more quickly and efficiently. Facilities that are required to make a large number of a specific product each time it is set up on the machines, will also need to store all of these items until they can be sold. This storage and inventory is a costly part of manufacturing. If a company can reduce or eliminate unnecessary inventory, it can save a significant amount of money.

In addition, when you streamline the changeover process, it can reduce the number of defects in the products which are made. In most cases, the time a changeover takes is increased by how complex the process is. These added complexities result in more defects, especially in the first several products to come off the line. By reducing the complexity, fewer problems can be expected, resulting in less waste in the form of defects.

Improving Changeover

The benefits to faster changeover for any facility are quite obvious. It is the implementation, however, which can be difficult. Every facility will run slightly differently, and depending on the types of products they are creating, they will need to come up with unique solutions to long changeover times. In virtually every case, however, it is well worth any investment for a facility to work to discover faster and more efficient ways to complete their changeover processes.

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