8 steps to reduce manufacturing set up times

Set up time is a key hidden cost area. Manufacturing costing systems put great emphasis on individual part costs, but set up times are frequently thrown into a bucket of “general overhead” or idle time.  No customer wants to pay us to setup our machines so here are 8 steps to reduce this source of waste.

Involve the People on the Job

Simply encouraging the people doing the work to look for savings and asking for their suggestions to reduce set up times will probably do more than any investment you might make.  Operators will be more receptive if they understand that the motivation behind the programme is to reduce inventory through more frequent set ups, than if they believe that the objective is job cuts.

Measure set up times

Ideally your plant should have a data capture system which enables you to identify setup time (separately from other down time), and correlate this with individual part numbers, machines and operators.   If an automatic system is not available, consider the use of simple manual data collection systems, in the most basic form a log card reporting when the machine was stopped and when the new batch was started.  A “before” and “after” analysis of these cards will indicate how effective your setup reduction campaign has been.

Make a video of a setup

If everyone thinks nothing can be improved, see if they think the same after the see the video.

Analyse causes of setup time.

Typically a large part of setup time is waste time and in a surprising number of cases is avoidable.

Make sure all tools are close to the work place, clearly identified and easily found

No time wasted looking for tooling, screw drivers or other equipment.

Rationalize Production Programmes to Avoid Setups

By producing similar parts at the same time it may be possible to reduce the complexity of setups or avoid them altogether

Consider Pre-kitting materials and tooling

Materials and tooling for the next operation can be prepared before the previous batch is finished, rather than getting them when the machine is stopped.

Consider Duplicate Resources

Sometimes a lot of time is lost looking for shared equipment such as materials handling equipment, tool holders, or PCs to load plc programmes. Consider the economics of duplicating certain key resources to save time spent looking for them.

Right First Time setups

Ask is it really necessary to produce 3 scrap parts before a machine is good to go?In many cases investment in tool holders or quick change tooling can enable “right first time” set ups with no need to adjust with trial and error.




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