Setup Reduction– One Discipline You Must Master


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Setup reduction is the gold standard for continuous improvement. Honing your skills in this one process will pay dividends in all facets of your operation. Setup reduction is the one discipline that you must master if your shop is to continuously improve and remain competitive.

As an example, suppose that a shop (maybe yours) has an average setup time of 8 hours per setup. The shop has 20 machines and does an average of 10 setups per machine per year for a total of 1,600 setup hours. If this company cut the average setup time in half to 4 hours, it would then have 800 hours of additional machine time that it can sell. Averaging 1 hour or less on specific machines can be routinely achieved.

Setup Reduction Impact:
1. Manufacturing Capacity. Setup reduction increases manufacturing capacity without adding people or machines. Doing more with less is the essential lesson of lean.

2. Scheduling. Standard (8-hour) setups are notorious for ending up at 20 hours, which puts the machine in the hole before it starts. Setup reduction programs compress the bad setup times significantly, which also helps scheduling. Setup reduction increases on-time performance and builds customer loyalty.

3. Premium Time/Overtime. Setups gone wrong often require overtime hours to catch up. Additional premium time is seldom required with a good setup reduction program.

4. Setup Skills. Good setups from scratch require the highest skilled setup personnel; interchangeable tooling setups can be performed by operators.

5. Scrap and Defects. Setup scrap can be limited to a few pieces and bar ends. Ideal setup reduction programs generate a good piece on the first piece.

6. Machine Maintenance.Machine problems after setups from scratch occur frequently. Setup reduction programs with interchangeable tooling reduce the number of machine component adjustments, thus eliminating breakage caused by improper adjustment.

7. Tool Breakage. How often have you heard, “The tool broke because it was set wrong”? Quick-change/interchangeable setups eliminate breakage. They use tools that drop in or are preset outside the machine, resulting in setups and normal tool changes that seldom result in breakage because of improper settings.

8. Down and Waiting for Machine/Tool Components. Good setup reduction systems require that all tool and machine components be ready prior to the setup beginning. The best setup reduction programs store all tools and components in the machine area (not a crib) so the operator/setup people can prep for the next setup while the machine is running.

Setup reduction programs pay dividends when you pick the low-hanging fruit, but the greatest dividends come when you pick the fruit at the top of the tree. To do this, you must continually hone your setup reduction skills because the tree gets taller each year. Systematically focusing on setup reduction is a discipline that delivers cost reductions, improved methods of work, better skilled employees and increased profits.

Good luck on your adventure. The low-hanging fruit from setup reduction is relatively easy to pick. Significant investments are required to pick the fruit at the top of the tree, but the rewards are worth the effort. How many additional machine hours to sell can you find in your shop by focusing on setup reduction? You will be profitably surprised.

Full setups on multi-spindle bar automatics can be achieved in less than an hour. 

Precision Machined Products Association