Learn how to work with the same efficiency as Formula 1 teams exchange tires

In 2013, the Australian drivers Formula 1 team’s mechanic, Marc Webber, set a world record that for many would be unthinkable: he changed a set of tires in just 1.923 seconds. In addition to the underlying teamwork, where everything is synchronised to the millisecond behind this achievement, is the practical application of a methodology that makes it possible to perform this task at a dizzying speed.


This is the SMED method (Single Minute Exchange of Die or change in single minute tool), which aims to improve and standardise the process of change (setup), or aims to reduce the loss of time caused by preparing the process for a new "case". This is a tool applicable in any type of industry or activity, from the aforementioned exchange of tires in automobile competitions, to the change of patient in an operating theatre room or exchange of reference in a production line.


The lack of a standardised method leads to an excessive preparation time with much variability, generating unproductive periods and consequently causing inflexibility in operation. Moreover, the loss caused by the change cannot be limited to the stop time, to the extent that it is assumed that one set is the time between the last case carried out with the required efficiency and the new case carried out with the required efficiency.


The implementation of SMED is based on direct observation of tasks and goes through various steps, including examining the starting point of the change, followed by the separation of the inner work (tasks that can only be performed with the space / stopped Machine) external work (tasks that can be performed with the space / machine running), to convert the internal work outside, reducing wherever possible the two types of work. In the end, the new practices should be normalised and trained.


The SMED must be applied at the place where the action happens by multidisciplinary improvement teams and should always include employees performing tasks. Lines and equipment of intervention with SMED must be selected according to criteria such as: where are more setups held? Where do they perform the most time-consuming setups? What equipment I less efficient? What area generates higher waiting times?


Reduction of the changing times, inventory and Lead Time, increased flexibility and productivity are the key benefits of the application of this methodology.

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