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FLEXO Magazine : October 2012
printing industry in: Setup Reduction for Printers, available through FTAStore.com. Setup Reduction for Printers breaks the process into 10 discrete steps. WHAT IS SMED? SMED focuses on a few key principles. The first principle is to analyze every minute of time during a production change- over to determine which activities are internal and which are external processes. Internal processes are simply activities that must be performed while the equipment is stopped. In other words, for mechanical or safety reasons, the press must be shut down. The goal, of course, is to make sure all activities that can be performed externally are indeed being performed as a premakeready function. I am always amazed at how much time is spent on activities that could be performed ahead of time with a little thought. It is worth addressing how discovery is achieved when focusing on setup reduction. An important "LEAN" principle is learning to see. This concept addresses how we can so easily miss seeing due to preconceived opinions. The word paradigm is often overused, but it has powerful implications. A paradigm could be defined as someone's " world view." It is how you interpret what you see. So, if you ask an operator if he/she does external activities while the press is stopped (which is unfavorable), most will emphatically say no. Opera- tors generally do what they were taught. And, they are hard workers and perceive themselves as doing the right thing because of their efforts. So, asking is not the best approach. The best approach is to document a makeready in a different manner. I recommend simply videotaping a few makereadies in an unobtrusive manner. Then, ask the opera- tors to watch and simply document any thoughts. Ask their peers to watch and document those observations. Videotap- ing is a powerful way of moving beyond what is believed (per- ception), to focus on what is really happening (reality). It can be intimidating, so be certain to approach this diplomatically. After a few makereadies have been taped and analyzed, have a baseline from which to improve. Progress is best achieved systematically. The following 10-step approach, identified in Setup Reduction for Printers outlines several different ways to shave time off of a makeready. The reality is that there are few huge gains. But five minutes shaved here and five minutes shaved there, add up to significant reduc- tions. So what are the 10 steps in reducing setup time? THE 10 STEP SETUP REDUCTION PROCESS 1. Benchmark a current makeready 2. Minimize internal processes 3. Analyze, minimize, and standardize setup tools and fasteners 4. Put tools and supplies close by and in an organized manner 5. Use positioning and registration aids 6. Work to minimize adjustments required 7. Use parallel setup processes 8. Standardize, coordinate, and improve your makeready activities 9. Mistake-proof your makeready 10. Re-engineer when all else fails When combined, these steps shave critical time out of the makeready process, improving the bottom line of a business. But the processes must be done methodically and, generally, in sequence. Each step takes a little time out of the process. It may be tempting to jump down a few steps but you will get the biggest benefit by tackling each step in sequence, using a team approach. A well-trained and motivated team, com- prised of four or five individuals, will provide the greatest im- pact on setup reduction. The team should have knowledge of the process, but one or two "outside" eyes are always helpful. While we do not have space in this column to discuss each of these steps in detail, I will spend the balance of this article focusing on Step 4: putting tools and supplies close by and in an organized manner. As noted above, you really need to start at step one though to get the best gains. In recent years, companies have really begun to put energy into premakeready functions. This involves staging sub- strates, inks, dies, foils, anilox rolls, and other supplies and tools for the pressrun. Stopping the press and accumulating the needed supplies for the next job wastes much time. Let us start with a basic premise: The least amount of press downtime will occur when all needed materials (i.e. stock), press components (i.e. anilox rolls), and tools (i.e. adjustment tools) are within arm's reach of the place they will be used at the precise moment they are needed. Further, all tools must incorporate the four "easies": • Easy to see • Easy to get • Easy to use • Easy to put back Since tools are often stored press-side, many companies employ shadow boards close to the point of use. This is a good approach and generally addresses many of the above bullet points. However, if we get back to the premise noted earlier, questions do come up. Are the best tools being em- ployed? For example, some fasteners are easier to engage, provide optimum torque with the least amount of motion or time, and disengage more simply than other fasteners. Is this the best tool for the fastener? Is the tool used in multiple places? Is the tool being transported around or is another operator waiting on the tool? These are all important consid- erations your team should discuss. How inks, substrates, foils, dies, anilox rolls, and other press components and supplies get press-side is another important part of reducing makeready time. Many companies use a premakeready function, essentially having someone other than the operator accumulate the necessary job sup- plies and deliver them press-side, prior to the finish of the previous job. How premakereadies are initiated, performed, verified as being accurate, and delivered press-side is essential to a good premakeready. For example, we only want to stage just prior to a job (10-30 minutes prior). So what initiates or signals a premakeready activity in your business? Is it fail 22 FLEXO OCTOBER 2012 www.flexography.org