Sample Business Studies Paper on Toyota Production System: The Concept of SMED

SMED is an acronym for the Single-Minute Exchange of Dies. The concept is a technological advancement in production that dramatically minimizes the time taken to complete equipment changeovers in a manufacturing process. Essentially, SMED is a revolution in the manufacturing industry because it enhances rapid and efficient changeover from the current product to the next running product. Consequently, it reduces production lot sizes and improves flow, which significantly impacts the manufacturing economics positively due to lowered production costs and increased flexibility within a process. In sum, SMED refers to the theory and techniques in the Lean Production System used to eliminate wastefulness alongside non-added value activities to improve manufacturing economics.

The methodology development is a brainchild of Shigeo Shingo, a Japanese Industrial Engineer. The objective of the engineer was to accomplish the setup times in under ten minutes. Shingo developed SMED in 1985 as a universal scientific approach for set time reduction that is applicable in any industrial unit and for any type of machine (Conrad, 2016).  Shingo developed the novel system at the time when Taiichi Ohno served as the executive managing director of Toyota. Coincidentally, Ohno was involved in an aggressive pursuit of an ideal production system, for which SMED perfectly offered a solution. Ohno’s tenure at the apex of Toyota management was integral for adopting and incorporating the technique because he readily understood the impact it would bring to the company’s production efficiency goal (Conrad, 2016). Upon evaluating the system, the executive director established a close connection between the principal aspects of the company’s production system and SMED system. Ohno’s overarching objective was to reduce the setup times in the manufacturing process (Da Silva & Filho, 2019). Thus, the conviction he got after exploring SMED’s effectiveness as a solution motivated his decision to demand that the company adopt the system to reduce die changeover time to three minutes.

Before embarking on developing SMED, Shingo had initially teamed up with Ohno to create another definitive innovation called the Just-In-Time system from which the whole idea of SMED was founded. They would later collaborate to advance the innovation that has significantly shaped the global production process (Da Silva & Filho, 2019). While conducting research on how to reduce changeover time, Shingo made a number of conclusions that pointed out the necessity of a sophisticated SMED system (Brito, Ramos, Carneiro & Gonçalves, 2017). First, he inferred that it is impossible to eliminate the waste of overproduction without SMED. Second, SMED is crucial to help in achieving shortened cycle times which demand small-lot production. Lastly, he realized that achieving SMED is compulsory for manufacturers intending to build requisite capacity to respond to changes in consumer demand effectively (Charles, Fred & Dan, 2018). Contrary to the popular assumption that know-how is important during the initial steps of implementing SMED, Shingo submits that it is equally important to know why. He explains that when people understand why they are implementing SMED, they will have a reason to engage in the process, which is critical because it helps to cope with changing situations (Da Silva & Filho, 2019). However, if people only leverage their know-how, they become vulnerable to failure in their attempt to implement SMED. It is a challenge to effectively apply SMED in their own operations in situations where production characteristics are incongruent to those at Toyota.

The system revolutionized production mechanics and economics within the Toyota production system because it helped explore and improve various basic factors necessary to eliminate inventory. The SMED introduction was also important to actualize the relentless efforts made to cut human resources costs that translate to higher production expenses that affect product prices in the market (Talekar, Patil, Shinde & Waghmare, 2019). According to Shingo, SMED best suits Toyota because it aligns with the company’s production systems’ significant principle and unique features. Total elimination of waste was fundamental to Toyota because it constitutes one of the Toyota production system’s basic principles.

SMED is important in the Toyota production system because it improves the process, inspection, setup, and transport. Additionally, it eliminates storage, process delays. In process improvement, SMED methodology helps to eliminate process delays and lot delays. Manufacturing technicians employ value engineering to redesign and maintain product quality while at the same time, minimize the cost of manufacturing (Godina, Pimentel, Silva & Matias, 2018). Apart from product quality and cost of production, engineers using SMED methodology in the manufacturing process also device techniques to improve the product manufacturing process by improving inspection (Sabadka, Molnar & Fedorko, 2017). Informative inspection processes are of different types, and they are all purposed to reduce the defect rate. The essence of improving the inspection process is to increase the chances of identifying possible errors in the production process that may compromise product quality (Godina, Pimentel, Silva & Matias, 2018). Detecting the defects and errors in early provides an opportunity for the plant engineers to correct the processing method or condition to minimize losses by preventing further production of defective products (Dombrowski, Richter & Krenkel, 2017). Additionally, production engineers also work on eliminating transport as an improvement to the overall production process (Filla, 2016). Transport has been identified as one of the costs that do not add value to products. The idea is to improve the layout of the process by eliminating the transport function. Therefore, SMED technology’s fundamental principle is to eliminate all redundant and irrelevant traditional production functions that do not add value to the end product.

The improvement of production mechanics and economics, as solved by SMED methodology, lies in eight techniques. Plant technicians are instructed to isolate internal from external setup actions. Secondly, machine operators should convert internal setup actions to external (Gorecki & Pautsch, 2018). The instruction is to focus on standardizing functions instead of shapes. Technicians should either choose functional clamps or seek to eliminate fasteners altogether (Bin Che Ani, M. N., & Bin Shafei, M. S. (2013). In the production process, intermediate jigs and fixtures should be used. Machine handlers should adopt parallel operations and eliminate adjustments (Skotnicka-Zasadzień, Wolniak & Gębalska-Kwiecień, 2018). Finally, mechanization or automation should be adopted as the last resort when other steps prove ineffective. In short, the eight listed techniques are essential in achieving the goal of implementing a functional SMED system.

In conclusion, SMED technology is a scientific breakthrough that profoundly impacts both production mechanics and economics. The system is an innovative brainchild of Japanese engineers Shingo and Ohno, who developed it to keep the manufacturing process fast, efficient, and dependent on low capital input. The system is universally applicable in all manufacturing settings and different types of machines. The technology benefits production with multiple gains, such as guaranteed cost savings as a consequence of equipment downtime. It also facilitates more product changes in a Just-In-Time-Manner. The Just-In-Time facilitation helps to reduce inventory. SMED system is fundamental to companies that intend to achieve product quality optimization due to tighter tolerances in die exchanges that eliminate waste in production lines. In sum, SMED methodology is a scientific advancement to achieve efficient and cost-effective production.



Bin Che Ani, M. N., & Bin Shafei, M. S. (2013). The effectiveness of the single minute exchange of die (SMED) technique for productivity improvement. Applied Mechanics and Materials465-466, 1144-1148. doi:10.4028/

Brito, M., Ramos, A., Carneiro, P., & Gonçalves, M. (2017). Combining SMED methodology and ergonomics for the reduction of setup in a turning production area. Procedia Manufacturing13, 1112-1119. doi:10.1016/j.promfg.2017.09.172

Charles, P., Fred, W., & Dan, P. (2018). Basics model assessment—SMED: Single-minute exchange of die (SMED). Implementing Lean, 149-158. doi:10.4324/9781315118857-14

Conrad, R. W. (2016). Single minute exchange of die (SMED). ifaa-Edition, 51-56. doi:10.1007/978-3-662-48552-1_8

Da Silva, I. B., & Godinho Filho, M. (2019). Single-minute exchange of die (SMED): A state-of-the-art literature review. The International Journal of Advanced Manufacturing Technology102(9-12), 4289-4307. doi:10.1007/s00170-019-03484-w

Dombrowski, U., Richter, T., & Krenkel, P. (2017). Interdependencies of Industrie 4.0 & lean production systems: A use case analysis. Procedia Manufacturing11, 1061-1068. doi:10.1016/j.promfg.2017.07.217

Filla, J. (2016). The single minute exchange of die methodology in a high-mix processing line. Journal of Competitiveness8(2), 59-69. doi:10.7441/joc.2016.02.05

Godina, R., Pimentel, C., Silva, F., & Matias, J. C. (2018). A structural literature review of the single minute exchange of die: The latest trends. Procedia Manufacturing17, 783-790. doi:10.1016/j.promfg.2018.10.129

Gorecki, P., & Pautsch, P. (2018). Single minute exchange of die (SMED). Lean Management, 77-81. doi:10.3139/9783446456068.007

Sabadka, D., Molnar, V., & Fedorko, G. (2017). undefined. Advances in Science and Technology Research Journal11(3), 187-195. doi:10.12913/22998624/76067

Skotnicka-Zasadzień, B., Wolniak, R., & Gębalska-Kwiecień, A. (2018). Improving the efficiency of the production process using SMED. MATEC Web of Conferences183, 01002. doi:10.1051/matecconf/201818301002

Talekar, A. A., Patil, S. Y., Shinde, P. S., & Waghmare, G. S. (2019). Setup time reduction using a single-minute exchange of dies (SMED) at a forging line. 1ST International Conference On Manufacturing, Material Science, and Engineering (ICMMSE-2019). doi:10.1063/1.5141188