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Shorten changeovers and reap the benefits in lean manufacturing

February 24, 2020 / Jeff Sipes

Changeover is a fact of life in a metal fabrication job shop. You perform changeovers on the press brake, the welding operation, and even in information-based operations like quoting. Yes, changeovers happen, and making them more effective can have many positive results on an operation. Let’s explore. The ideal is to eliminate the changeover altogether. Is it feasible? In some cases, the answer is a resounding yes. If you can make the fixture universal so that there are no adjustments, tooling changes, or fixture swapping, then your changeover time can be practically zero. Let’s suppose this isn’t practical. What do you do? First, you need to understand the current state of your changeover process. Be sure to include multiple perspectives and input from operators, engineers, and supervisors. Analysis will likely include the following: Observe the current state. Simply go see! Quietly observe the complete changeover cycle to make sure you understand what is happening.