Cierpa blog - SMED methode

The SMED method is a great way to take the loss from your process. You can achieve great results, sometimes up to 80% more efficiency! Cierpa Certified Consultant René Kindervater, owner of KSL-Solutions, explains how to tackle waste in your company and how Cierpa Kaizen helps you do that. 

What is the SMED method?

"SMED is actually a way to address waste or loss with an improvement team. The question is: can we accomplish the same thing but do it faster? If an operator or machine is scheduled to halt, why is it stopping? If there's no added value, what is going on?

SMED has traditionally focused on the changeover process. But you can apply the method to any planned waste. What matters is that you look at the time between the last good product (X) and the first good product (Y). That's where you look for improvement potential. This could be an improvement potential for a changeover, but also about an employee who has to put something together on the line.

SMED is not only about changeovers but also about all planned waste.

So you look at the cause for the standstill of the product or your machine. And then you ask yourself: is this downtime essential? You can often prevent downtime by preparing. Take baking pancakes as an example. You stop because you run out of batter and make new batter first. At the same time, you could have also possibly made the batter while you were baking. Or imagine you are a barista, and you serve new customers. There's a pot of coffee, but it's cold. So you want to make fresh coffee as soon as possible, but the packet of coffee hasn’t been opened. There's also no scoop, and you can only throw away the old coffee back in the kitchen because there's no water. If everything were ready, you could have served your coffee much faster. Or imagine you're on the production line. You need different wrenches to tighten different nuts on the product, so you have to get them and put them back. If you use the same nuts everywhere, you only need one wrench.

So there are many ways to optimize the process. That's what you look for with the SMED method."

Where did the SMED method come from?

"Shigeo Shingo conceived the SMED method for the Japanese automotive industry. The specific question revolved around producing molds (''Die'') more efficiently. SMED stands for Single-Minute Exchange of Die. It meant the duration in minutes had to be reduced from double digits to single digits. So switching from the current the new production order always had to take less than 10 minutes."

What does the SMED method offer you?

"First of all, it offers lots of areas for improvement! And also, you can pursue several goals:

  • Produce more
  • Manufacture the same in less time (i.e., reduce your operating time)
  • Have changeovers more frequently, so output remains the same, but batch sizes can be smaller. You need less stock, which shortens lead time and increases reliability in delivery.

You determine which goal you link to your SMED trajectory with a loss analysis. 

 To determine which goal is best for you, start with a loss analysis. Ask the following questions:

  • What has the most loss?
  • What loss has the most potential?
  • Do I want to save on person-hours, or do I want more capacity at the bottleneck?

Once you've answered the questions, you can really get started."

What kind of results can you expect from a SMED process?

"At our customers' sites, we often see great results. If you implement a SMED trajectory for the first time and do it properly, you could become up to 80% more efficient! It can also garner significant results if you tackle changeover time at a bottleneck. One of our clients has been able to realize tremendous savings with this:

An example of SMED project calculation

Turnover: €10M

Added value: €3M

So the bottleneck has €3M added value.


Operating time: 8 hours per day

Working days: 220 days per year

Working hours: 1760 hours per year

Added value per hour is 3M / 1,760 hours = €1705 


Suppose: there is one 10-minute daily changeover. 

Annual changeover time: 220 days x 10 minutes = 2200 minutes = 36,67 hours

Suppose you can save 5 minutes and produce extra in that time

Annual value of the savings: (36,67/2) x 1705 = €31.258 


And you can calculate even further. Suppose this company doesn't switch once but three times a day and it takes twenty minutes to do so. This quickly adds up to an extra added value of €200,000. We have helped companies where this amount was €0,5M. Those are significant numbers!"

We have helped companies realize an additional added value of €0,5M.

Which steps do you take in a SMED process?

"The SMED method has seven basic steps:

  1. Observe the current process. The best way to do it is by videotaping the process. Then label all the activities you see within the changeover activity or process. Think about:
  • Preparing
  • Cleaning
  • Exchanging
  • Moving
  • Adjusting
  • Fine tune
  • Aftercare
  1. Divide the activities into internal and external changeover activities. Internal activities can be performed only when the system (production machine, assembly, or other value-added processes) has halted. External activities can be performed while the system continues to run.
  2. Turn as many internal activities as possible into external activities.
  3. Simplify the remaining internal activities as much as possible.
  4. Optimize the external activities.
  5. Describe the new procedure and train it within the company.
  6. Keep repeating this method to optimize results."

The SMED method is fully integrated into Cierpa Kaizen. What would such an improvement process look like?

"A SMED trajectory follows a fairly fixed process, and it’s fully implemented in a Cierpa Kaizen template. Select that template when you start a SMED trajectory with an improvement team. You can then select all kinds of action points and, if necessary, make adjustments. This immediately provides the basis for the project: when are you going to do what, who do you need for it, and what do you need to arrange.


With Cierpa Kaizen, your SMED trajectory is ready to go. With PDCA, everyone immediately knows who has to take which steps and when.


PDCA guides the whole team through the project. You know exactly where you stand, which gives you something to hold on to during every phase. Everyone sees which steps you have to take: that makes it easier to go through the process entirely and be successful."

KSL-Solutions and working with SMED

With Cierpa Kaizen and SMED, KSL-Solutions gets the most out of its customers' improvement process. Using the online Team Leader Annual Program, René and his colleagues at KSL-Solutions also transfer their knowledge. That's how they help companies improve continuously with SMED. Contact KSL-Solutions and find out what René and his team can do for you!