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External Setup

Setup is the process of preparing a machine to run a product. Some of the steps of a setup must be done while a machine is shut off. That is known as internal setup.

External setup is when the steps to get the machine ready to run a different part can be taken while a machine is running. The terminology comes from the fact that these activities are done outside of or away from the machine, or external to the process.

Setup is the process of preparing a machine to run a product. Note that the term setup and changeover are often used interchangeably. Those that make a distinction generally look at setup as the steps that are specific to the machine rather than the entire work area.

When focusing on setup reduction, one of the key strategies is to convert internal setup to external setup. Basically, we want machines up and running as soon as possible when switching between parts. The longer a machine takes to change over, the more parts have to be produced in a single run. For Lean operations, we want short runs of parts to keep inventory levels down and promote flow. That means we need short setups.

Obviously, our priority is to reduce the time a step takes or eliminate it altogether. If that cannot be done, though, focusing an external setup can yield great results.

The following types of tasks should never be done while a machine is stopped:

  • Looking for parts
  • Completing paperwork
  • Cleaning tools
  • Searching for hardware
  • Walking to get fixtures

Note that many of these steps are simply the result of combining good 5S with strong standardization. But with creativity, you may find additional tasks that can be made external. For example, creating swappable, uniform-sized fixtures to hold dies on a machine can convert adjustments from internal to external steps.


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