2 min read

Creativity Over Capital: Changeover Reduction

By Bob Einspar on Aug 30, 2023 8:31:06 AM

Topics: Productivity
inspection engineer checking machine at factory industry production plant changeovers

The most overlooked opportunity for increasing production capacity in manufacturing plants is planned downtime.  Because changeovers and maintenance are planned, we tend to accept them as normal or something that must be done.  After a closer look, you may realize that these planned events are the largest contributor to your production losses.  Attacking planned downtime will not only reduce inefficiencies in your operations, but more importantly let you claw back some valuable production time to increase your capacity and help grow your business. 

Consider a plant that is running fifteen shifts per week and has two planned downtime events during that time.  Each shift equates to about 7% of available production time.  With some changeovers, cleaning or maintenance tasks taking a full shift or more, production losses add up quickly.   Because changeovers are done outside of normal production, they often lack a formal process or standard work, leading to even more inefficiencies.  These factors combined to make changeover reduction one of the highest impact improvement opportunities in your plant, and it’s common to see a 35-40% reduction in planned downtime with focused improvements, leading to increased uptime and overall equipment effectiveness (OEE). 

Changeover time is measured from the last good part produced before the changeover begins, to the next good part produced after the changeover is completed. Tasks external to the changeover process can be completed while the equipment is still in operation; however, internal tasks must be completed with the equipment offline directly contributing to downtime. Distinguishing between internal and external tasks is a crucial step for changeover reduction, and a common strategy is to convert internal tasks to external tasks wherever possible.  Then focus on optimizing the remaining internal tasks to reduce the overall length of the event.  

The Veryable Solution

mop bucket sitting on warehouse floor with caution wet floor message while on-demand worker mops floors

A great way to optimize internal tasks is to reallocate less skilled work to a back-up or assistant role, allowing your highly skilled mechanics and tool setters to complete their tasks in a shorter time.  There are several tasks occurring during a changeover that can be performed by Veryable operators including cleaning, mopping, transporting material and tools, lubricating and other easily trainable items.  Freeing your experienced crew to focus on more critical assembly, set-up and quality tasks will get your equipment back online quicker, helping regain uptime for production.

Because Veryable allows for flexible scheduling, you can choose the start time and length of an Op to fit what you need.  Predicting when a production run will end and a changeover will begin is difficult, and rarely coincides with shift start and end times, so this flexibility is extremely helpful to stay on track.    Veryable operators can be used as needed for a split shift or to overlap shifts helping you complete pre-work or ensure continuity during the changeover event.  Additionally, this flexibility allows you to immediately start your next production run at the conclusion of the changeover, without waiting for the start of the next shift.  Getting your equipment back online helps you regain production time and effectively increases your capacity. 

Changeover reduction is one of the many ways a business can employ creativity over capital to improve overall equipment effectiveness and grow your business. 

Bob Einspar

Written by Bob Einspar

As General Manager of the Greater Chicago Market, Bob leads our efforts to implement supply chain solutions for manufacturing and logistics businesses throughout Northeast Illinois and Northwest Indiana. With almost two decades of experience in manufacturing, operations, and continuous improvement roles, he brings a wealth of shop floor knowledge, as well as hands on experience leveraging Lean Six Sigma tools to drive operational improvements. Before joining Veryable, Bob led a team of 12 Continuous Improvement professionals, working across 6 Food Co-Pack Plants in the Midwest, and delivered roughly $10M in cost savings initiatives annually.