Single Minute Exchange of Die (SMED)

Quick Definition

SMED is the term used to represent the Single Minute Exchange of Die or setup time that can be counted in a single digit of minutes. SMED is often used interchangeably with “quick changeover”. SMED and quick changeover are the practice of reducing the time it takes to change a line or machine from running one product to the next. The need for SMED and quick changeover programs is more popular now than ever due to increased demand for product variability, reduced product life cycles and the need to significantly reduce inventories.

Expanded Definition

The successful implementation of SMED and quick changeover is the key to a competitive advantage for any manufacturer that produces, prepares, processes or packages a variety of products on a single machine, line or cell. SMED and quick changeover allows manufacturers to keep less inventory while supporting customer demand for products with even slight variations. It also allows manufacturers to keep expensive equipment running because it can produce a variety of products. SMED has a lot of hidden benefits that range from reducing WIP to faster ROI of capital equipment through better utilization.

To understand how SMED can help we have to look at the changeover process. Typically when the last product of a run has been made the equipment is shut down and locked out, the line is cleaned, tooling is removed or adjusted, new tooling may be installed to accommodate the next scheduled product. Adjustments are made, critical values are met (die temperature, accumulators filled, hoppers loaded, etc.) and eventually the startup process begins – running product while performing adjustments and bringing the quality and speed up to standard. This process takes time, time that can be reduced through SMED.

Effective SMED programs identify and separate the changeover process into key operations – External Setup involves operations that can be done while the machine is running and before the changeover process begins, Internal Setup are those that must take place when the equipment is stopped. Aside from that, there may also be non-essential operations. The following is a brief example of how to attack the SMED process:

Always measure time lost to changeover and any waste created in the startup process so that you can benchmark improvement programs. Ever see a racing pit crew? They have mastered SMED and quick changeover! In less than 15 seconds they can perform literally dozens of operations from changing all tires and refueling the car to making suspension adjustments and watering the driver. Watch closely next time – you will always see one person with a stopwatch benchmarking their progress.


SMED and quick changeover programs have many benefits for manufacturers. From reducing downtime associated with the changeover process to reducing the waste created during startup. Additional benefits include:

Eye-opening gains are often discovered when a well-designed SMED or changeover program is implemented. Can your company benefit from a changeover reduction program?

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