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Driving Operational Excellence in Changeovers

1 minute, 29 seconds read

Often changeovers are a part of manufacturing processes that are not dedicated to one specific product.  Many companies utilize the same line, machine, or process to make many different items or products.  This introduces changeovers as a natural part of normal daily operations. 

Definition: Changeover time is the total time between the last good part and first good part of the new item or product. 

Measuring changeover time:

  • All of the time associated with the changeover
  • Any preparatory activities

Common causes of high changeover time:

  • Lack of materials
  • Lack of tools
  • Lack of focus from associates
  • Need to “dial in“ the machine or process
  • Labor intensive processes to remove/install parts of the machine

Changeover time is one of the many losses that a plant has. Reducing or eliminating hidden expenses within changeovers will positively impact margins, reaction time to changing customer demand, and/or capacity constrained equipment.

Tackling the improvement of the changeover process:

  • Observe the current state of your changeovers with a simple stopwatch, notepad, or camera with video capability, observe the changeover.  
    • Make notes throughout the changeover process
    • Names of associates
    • Number of associates
    • Machine number
    • Previous product number
    • Next product number   
  • Note whether associates had to leave the job to get required tools. 
    • If they did, how do you ensure you have the tools you need before you start?
  • Do you have the materials for the next product you are running?
    • Could they be staged at the machine prior to stopping the previous product?
  • Do the changeover associates leave to get help, or someone with expertise?  
    • Perhaps documented procedures and training would eliminate that loss of time or having enough help at the beginning of the process. 



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