Everything you need to know about SMED: its meaning, how to apply the SMED process in 3 steps, and SMED examples to help guide you
Updated 31 Jan 2023, Published 11 Jun 2021
Single-Minute Exchange of Dies (SMED) is a Lean tool used in manufacturing to reduce equipment changeover time. The goal of SMED is to complete as many steps as possible while the equipment is running (or processing), so as to save time and quickly change-over to processing the next product.
Before learning more about this time-saving tool, it’s necessary to understand what each term of the acronym means. The last letter, D, stands for dies/die. In manufacturing, a die is a specialized piece of equipment used to define the size and shape of a product. A die is best described as a stamp or an industrial cookie-cutter.
Moving on to the second-to-last letter, E stands for exchange of dies. Since a die is customized to create a certain size and shape, the die of one product would be different from the die of another. Therefore, exchanging dies simply means switching from making one product to making another.
The remaining two letters, SM, stand for single-minute, which is ideally how long it should take to switch from making one product to another or “to exchange dies”. However, this can be modified to mean single-digit minute exchange of dies (less than 10 minutes exchange of dies).
Now that the exact meaning of SMED has been discussed, another thing to clarify before considering SMED is how it’s related to equipment changeover time. Changeover is the transitioning of equipment from processing one product to processing another. It’s very similar to the exchange of dies (defined in the previous section).
An interesting thing about SMED is that what it stands for (single-digit minute exchange of dies) describes the intended result of using SMED more so than the actual process of how to make the exchange of dies take less than 10 minutes (or of how to reduce equipment changeover time to less than 10 minutes).
Before going into the benefits of SMED or why manufacturers use it, it may be helpful to ask if SMED can be applied to your production process and if it’s the right Lean tool to use for making improvements. The following are factors you need to consider before implementing SMED:
Availability score = Available time ÷ Scheduled time
Downtime (Lost Productive Time):
Gross available time
– Planned downtime
+Setups and adjustments
If you have answered yes to the questions above, you can begin implementing SMED on the equipment changeover.
The main benefit of implementing SMED is reduced equipment changeover time, which creates a positive domino effect on other aspects of production. The five key benefits are:
To help you get started with implementing SMED, here’s a quick 3-step guide on the SMED process.
The first step in the SMED process is to separate changeover elements or group them according to their type (internal or external). Changeover elements are the steps taken to complete the equipment changeover. There are two types of changeover elements:
Identifying the type of changeover element is important because making as many steps (or changeover elements) external is how SMED reduces equipment changeover time.
Separate Changeover Elements in the SafetyCulture SMED Template
The second step in the SMED process is to convert internal changeover elements to external changeover elements. Once you’ve identified an internal changeover element that could be converted to external, ensure that the benefit (in terms of time saved) outweighs the cost of conversion (the resources needed to convert the changeover element to external).
Convert Changeover Elements in the SafetyCulture SMED Template
A SMED technique for converting internal changeover elements to external ones is to use intermediate or duplicate jigs. The next product can be prepared using a jig (a kind of framework or mold) while the first product is being processed. The jig containing the prepared next product is then simply attached to the equipment.
The third step in the SMED process is to streamline the internal changeover elements that weren’t converted to external. The fundamental SMED technique for this step is to follow the Lean principle of “trimming the fat” by removing inefficiencies from internal changeover elements. Simple and effective SMED techniques for this include the following:
Streamline Changeover Elements in the SafetyCulture SMED Template
Create Your Own SMED Template Eliminate manual tasks and streamline your operations.Get started for free
Eliminate manual tasks and streamline your operations.
To give you a better idea of how the SMED process fits in your workplace or business, here are 4 SMED examples which show that it can be used even in industries outside of manufacturing:
Switching from lunch to dinner
Kitchen and staff
when guests are being served
when the restaurant is closed
bring out ingredients for dinner menu meals
clean the kitchen / prepare stations (throwing out oil, clearing chopping boards, etc.)
ensure second shift (or dinner shift) servers are ready
Step 1: Separate
Step 2: Convert
Step 3: Streamline
optimized kitchen preparation and cleaning flow
using 5S Lean method to organize the kitchen
Preparing meal A to preparing meal B
Cooking tools and ingredients
stove is on / chef is cooking
stove is off / chef is not cooking
moving to pantry to get ingredients for meal B
looking for cooking tools to use for meal B
prepping cooking tools for use (preheating, etc.)
meal B ingredients are placed near the cooking station
use functional clamps
Operating room and patient room/bed turnover
Operating room and patient room/bed
when operating room or patient room/bed is in use
when operating room and patient room/bed not in use
cleaning operating room and patient room (surface cleaning)
disinfecting operating room, patient room/bed
preparing operating room and patient room/bed for next use
standardized disinfection procedures are followed
standardize parts or features
Going from hospital to person in distress (emergency medical care)
EMT, ambulance driver, medical equipment/supplies
when the ambulance is on the way to the person
when the ambulance is waiting in the parking lot
looking for the tools or machines needed for emergency medical care
moving ambulance out of hospital parking lot
getting EMT inside the ambulance
ensure that ambulances are parked near the exit of the hospital parking lot and positioned in a way that the ambulance driver can get the ambulance out of the parking lot with minimal movements or actions
SafetyCulture (formerly iAuditor) is a powerful inspection platform that’s built for teams to improve workflow. Conduct inspections of equipment, processes, and anything else you can think of with SafetyCulture. View performance data in Analytics and see the average score of inspections, letting you know which changeovers are in need of improvement. Beyond that, SafetyCulture can make SMED work for you, and not the other way around. Here’s how:
Businesses from different industries, not just manufacturing, can use this simple and easy-to-use SMED template to make their changeover processes more efficient. Unlike a paper form, it’s easy to edit this SMED template whenever you see any opportunities for improvement.
This SMED template is also mobile-ready. Your operators/workers can add changeover elements and complete the SMED process on their mobile devices. Start using this SMED template to do the following:
Erick Brent Francisco
Erick Brent Francisco is a content writer and researcher for SafetyCulture since 2018. As a content specialist, he is interested in learning and sharing how technology can improve work processes and workplace safety. His experience in logistics, banking and financial services, and retail helps enrich the quality of information in his articles.
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