Single Minute Exchange of Die is a LEAN philosophy.

In essence it is the ability to change course from one set up to another in the most efficient manner possible.

It can be used not only in manufacturing but also in the service and health sectors.

Notable treatises on this are

A revolution in Manufacturing

The SMED System

By Shigeo Shingo

It is a key to reducing manufacturing setup times. Six Sigma will get your yield up but has to be teamed up with SMED to get your utilization up.

On the surface SMED is simple, straight forward and really common sense. But a structured approach help get buy in from the team for successful implementation.

Pareto’s can help us arrive at execution priorities, baseline measurements can help us determine ROI on Process Improvement activities.

The key to the process is flow charting the activities which can be done on line and offline with reference to time and resources. It is a definitely a work in progress as incremental improvements can continue to be made in a modular fashion.

The best way to learn is by reading about it on the web, start with a simple project. For example, let say you have one die set which has to be sharpened every 1 million hits. You could start by getting a second die set which will be ready to go in the tool while the other is getting sharpened. You could prepare the tool prior to installation with quick connections for air, electric and mechanical connections and make the change over as smooth as possible. Then it could be a game to try and reduce to change over time. This effort would be contagious and would spread like wild fire to all other sections of your plant.

Go ahead Google SMED and try it out!