SMED for Setup Reduction

May 26th, 2011

Tags: smed.set up reduction, single minute exchange of die, fast change over

SMED is an acronym that stands for Single Minute Exchange of Die.  The systematic approach to reaching this nirvana was developed by Shigeo Shingo in the spring of 1950 at Toyo Kogyo’s Mazda plant in Hiroshima, Japan.  He defined a new way of looking at the structure of production by focusing on the relationship between processes and operations.  Here is how to do it.

Shingo defined Processes as:

  • Work
  • Inspection
  • Transportation
  • Storage

Shingo defined Operations as:

  • Setup Operations
    • Preparation
    • After Adjustments
  • Principal Operations
    • Main Tasks
    • Incidental Tasks
  • Marginal Allowances
    • Fatigue
    • Hygiene
    • Operations
    • Workplace

SMED for Setup Reduction is comprised of four phases.

Phase 1

This is the as-is, or current state, situation for the production process where both internal and external setup operations are considered to be the same.  There is no separation.  To understand how to make the distinction between internal and external setup operations requires the capture of baseline information and data.

To get the data and information you can:

  • Conduct work sampling,
  • Conduct interviews with the process participants,
  • but the best method is to videotape, or digitally record an entire setup from start to finish.

Phase 2

Now that the baseline has been established the task is to identify and separate the internal and external setup operations.


Internal Setup Operations

  • What operations for setup must be performed when the equipment or process has to be idle?

External Setup Operations

  • What are the operations for setup that can be performed while current production is taking place before the equipment or process must be shut down and thus idle?

The key to achieving SMED is the ability to distinguish between internal and external setup.

Phase 3

Now that the setup operations have been classified as either internal or external operations it is time to convert internal to external aggressively.  Baseline setup times can be reduced by 30% to 50% or more and this is just the beginning.  Go for it and get even more reductions!


  • Make all the conversions identified in Phase 2.
  • Was anything wrongly classified as internal?
  • Can any of the internal operations be converted to external?
  • What do you mean it can’t be done?  Go for it!

Phase 4

Streamline all aspects of both internal and external setup operations.   In this phase look at each of the operations for setup and look for ways to improve them and reduce the time required to get them done.  Nirvana is Single Minute Exchange of Die.  You might not get there that that is the goal!

Phases 3 and 4 can be worked concurrently.  Shigeo Shingo developed this method, SMED, over a period of nineteen years through examining the theoretical and practical aspects of setup improvement.  He developed the cookbook.  It is up to you to apply it.

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