EBOR Automotive Systems reduced change over downtime by 50% by rolling out new standard work instructions using SMED and PDCA methodologies.

This success of this process optimization project also stems from key data insights the team gained through the use of production monitoring software, as well as the sustainable training program they implemented during this journey.


Company Background & Operations:

EBOR Automotive Systems is an independent supplier of components to the South African motor industry, specializing in high quality technical mouldings and safety-critical assemblies. They have 2 facilities, one in Nelson Mandela Bay and the other in East London, situated in the Eastern Cape, South Africa.

Key Challenges:

EBOR uses HaldanMES to monitor OEE on various machines throughout their factories.

Whilst using HaldanMES Reports in their Port Elizabeth plant, it was clear that Tool Changeovers was the largest contributor to their Availability losses in OEE.

Quality and efficiency are crucial factors that contribute towards competitiveness and profitability in the manufacturing industry. This is the reason why lean manufacturing is perhaps the most important management approach for companies wanting to eliminate non-value adding steps in every process. Manufacturers are not only under pressure due to the increased demand for product capacity and flexibility, but also due to the need to operate with minimal inventory levels. This means that projects like Single-Minute Exchange of Die (SMED) are compulsory to maintain a competitive advantage.

The Goal:

EBOR decided to enlist the help of Haldan Consulting to assisted with a process optimization project for tool changeovers at a their manufacturing facility in Port Elizabeth. The aim was to provide an efficient method for optimizing the tool change process to reduce the amount of downtime currently being experienced during tool changeovers.

The Journey to reduce Change Over Downtime using SMED:

This project was administered under Haldan Consulting’s service offering, Process Outsource. This service provides clients with on-site engineering professionals who specialize in helping businesses re-engineer their processes and adopt lean philosophies of continuous improvement. Brandon van Niekerk is an Industrial Engineer who was completing his In-Service Training at Ebor. He was assigned to be the project leader and was tasked with identifying where areas of potential improvement lie.

The team quickly realised that the goals for this project would be to:

  • Reduce idle time lost to tool changeovers
  • Improve production flexibility
  • Improve tool life and the condition of the tool
  • Eliminate confusion and uncertainty of production staff with regards to tool changeovers
  • Follow SMED methodology to investigate and highlight key issues

By following a SMED methodology, they would be able to reorganise and simplify operations, by performing as many operations as possible without the production being stopped.

During the observation stage, examining the current process revealed that:

  • There was no standard in place for tool changeovers.
  • Most tool changeovers were taking place right before shift end, which was resulting in a new technician taking over from the previous one.
  • There was no work taking place whilst the tool was being heated and cooled.
  • Activities that could have been performed before production stopped were only being actioned after the machine came to a standstill.
  • Technicians were often interrupted during the changeover, for assisting with other breakdowns in the factory.
  • Technicians also seemed to be running back and forth, moving from one point of the tool to another during the changeover.
  • Lastly, no clear communication taking place between production team, quality team and technicians – resulting in no clear indication that machine is ready to start production again.

The old method for tool changeovers was only being performed by one technician at a time, with assistance only being brought in if required.

The Result:

Initially, during the first phase, the project team identified which actions could be moved from internal to external. They tested this change with 10 % of internal activities being performed externally. Only one technician was used. They analyzed the results and found that that they had achieved a savings in time. However, in order to achieve the goals set out for this project, they continued with a second phase.

Further savings developed from performing internal activities simultaneously, increasing the number of resources by one. They broke down internal activities into smaller steps which were easy to follow. This standardized method amounted to 50 % reduced changeover time. Again, they could monitor the improvements made, and continue to optimize the process.

A new standard work instruction was created from the best method approach. This approach added an additional resource, each with specific roles.
This improvement could only be achieved because of the focus on training staff members, continuously and repeatedly.

From the start of the project, the team decided it would be feasible to make use of on-the-job training. Staff were rotated weekly whilst they spent time with the technicians, learning basic autonomous maintenance as well as assisting with changeovers. They were also given the SMED checklist and were tested at the end of their weekly training. Whilst this allowed for monitoring of their progress, it also allowed for technicians to take ownership. They were actively encouraged to make suggestions and bring forward improvement ideas so that the changeover process could be even more efficient.

By doing this, the project leader could follow up to ensure that the new procedure was being followed and could determine when there was a need to train staff on technical elements which they would otherwise not have been involved in before.

The combination of SMED, PDCA and training increased the sustainability of the new standard work instruction for changeovers.

Project Leader, Brandon van Niekerk explains that:

“Using a reliable monitoring tool, like HaldanMES, is crucial to understanding the real savings and results. Firstly, HaldanMES is an objective tool and cannot be influenced by human factors when delivering accurate data. Secondly, trends can be monitored over time to ensure that the process is continuously improved and maintained. Now there is more time available for production, meaning that we have effectively increased production capacity, as well as production flexibility. We can also continue to optimize this process over time and extend it to other machines in the factory.”

The Power of Structured Continuous Improvements:

The success of this project was driven by these important factors:

  • The project was led by an Industrial Engineer, who has critical knowledge of lean philosophies and experience in implementing similar process improvement strategies.
  • Information was based on reliable data, measured using HaldanMES. This production monitoring software provided key insights into production data before and after changes to the process were made.
  • The PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act) four step model was utilised to ensure that critical thinking was applied at every phase of the SMED project and to ensure that the new process is also continuously improved.
  • Lastly, training formed a significant part of this project to ensure that improvements and new processes are sustainable.

Ebor Managing Director, Andy Dealtry, believes that:

“The project has vividly illustrated the importance of taking a structured and objective approach to SMED – and has shown the benefits which can be achieved. Extending and institutionalising this approach throughout our operations is a key part of achieving our continuous improvement objectives and thereby contributing to the continued growth of the company.”

Chat to one of our specialists today to find out more about how Haldan Consulting can help your company implement lean philosophies and structured methodologies:

Email info@haldanconsulting.com