Setup Time Reduction for Electronics Assembly:
Combining Simple (SMED) and Sophisticated Methods
Setups determine downtime, capacity, product quality, and to some extent costs. As much as 50% of effective capacity can be lost to setups in some electronics assembly. In this paper we show that large reductions in setup time are possible for electronics assembly. We use a two-part approach. The first part consists of classic process re-engineering using “Single Minute Exchange of Dies” (SMED) concepts developed by Shigeo Shingo for metal fabrication. The second part uses a sophisticated factory information system, with hand-held wireless computers and barcode scanners, to further reduce setup times and increase setup accuracy. This two-part approach gave a reduction of about 86% in key setup times, plus labor savings, quality improvements and other benefits. One narrow measure of performance gave an order of magnitude improvement. Our results show that SMED is applicable well outside its traditional domains such as stamping and metal-working. We confirm that the seemingly extreme benefits claimed by SMED advocates are achievable, but only with the assistance of modern information technology. In our case the initial investment of $350,000 led to a ten-fold larger net present value.