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Close-to-zero changeover time in the pharmaceutical packaging process can be realized with the SMED philosophy. Learn how Graniten has implemented the SMED philosophy and realized close-to-zero changeover time on their packaging machines.

In this post you will get smart tips from Kevin Braeckmans, Pharma Process Engineer at Graniten.


Curious to find out how? 

The essence of SMED

What is SMED, what are the benefits, and how can it be used?

SMED or Single-Minute Exchange of Die is a system aiming to reduce the time for equipment changeovers. The essence of SMED is to convert as many changeover steps as possible to “external” ones that are performed while the equipment is still running, and to simplify and streamline the remaining steps.

The “Single-Minute” part of the name underlines the time reduction goal, to get as close to instant changeovers as possible.

Why focussing on SMED in your product development process?

Focussing on SMED within a process has multiple advantages; there is less equipment downtime, smaller batches or lot sizes become less punishing, allowing more flexible scheduling, and if there are less activities to execute, less can go wrong, increasing consistency and quality.

Robot from ABB used in Graniten machine

Learn how to realize close-to-zero changeover time

start here:

Below you may find some SMED tips to limit the amount of changeover activities:

  1. Preparation in advance. Have the parts ready to go and waiting at the right location. Custom-made trolleys can be used for each format and rolled out to the respective equipment.
  2. Use jigs, and fixtures to lower the number of adjustments and alignments that need to be done during changeover.
  3. Modularize the process, and replace or activate an entire module, instead of having to adjust a single process every time. Separate modules can be prepared before being used.
  4. Modify equipment so that is safe to access for cleaning activities whilst running.
  5. Just like in a Formula 1 pit stop, multiple operators can simultaneously perform the same task. This does require good standard work practices.

Graniten uses SMED principles all over the design of its machines to realize close-to-zero changeover time.

Some examples are shown below:

  • Use the quick release principle for faster changes.
Quick release

Figure 1. Quick release clamp to adjust infeeding guiding; robot head quick release mechanism

  • Reduce complicated mechanical adjustments that require tools
Linear guides numerical settings

Figure 2: Linear guides with standardized numerical settings

  • Standardize machine hardware, making it usable for all formats
3D camera

Figure 3: The use of 3D camera, and a specifically designed robot gripper, allows corrugated boxes to be picked up without format parts or adjustments

  • Mechanize changeovers by the use of servos, that will adjust themselves without having to wait.
Servos to mechanize the change of conveyor
Servo to mechanize change of conveyor

Figure 4: Servos to mechanize the change of conveyor guiding´s, and corrugated box closing station

  • Reduce motion by bringing the product to where the operator needs it.
IPC station

Figure 5: IPC station close to the operator, without needing to stop the machine.

Kevin Braeckmans Pharma process engineer at graniten

An expert in process engineering

“-My current skillset includes project management, pharmaceutical machine and process validation, discovering potential process improvements, and building up project business cases.”

After graduating from Industrial Engineering Chemistry in Antwerpen, I started at Pfizer in Puurs, Belgium. My colleagues taught me the ropes of the secondary packaging of vials, syringes, and autoinjectors. I was lucky enough to implement, and discover new packaging technologies, and meet a large array of suppliers.

5 years later, I switched to Alcon where I had a dual role within the assembly process of surgical kits. One side was improving the process through continuous improvement, where I was trained in the ways of Lean Six Sigma. The other was that of a capital, and project manager, that implemented new equipment throughout the production organization.

When Graniten contacted me to join their team, it made sense to get to know the ”supplier side” of the process.”

My view on pharma process engineering

“To be the internal voice of the customer at Graniten, and help customers in finding new ways of improving their production process through automation. If that means functioning as a line integrator for the customer, we should provide that helping hand.”

Process engineer pharma

Kevin Braeckmans, Pharma Process Engineer at Graniten

SMED philosophy in reality

the Graniten flexline packaging platform with close-to-zero changeovertime between batches.

The Graniten flexline packaging platform offers unprecedented flexibility combined with almost no format parts. The platform ensures a continous production by allowing manufacturers to move their small order runs off the legacy, high-capacity lines, thereby reducing the amount of long and costly changeovers needed leading to higher asset and line capacity utilization.

So, forget the lengthy changeover times from one batch to another and turn your focus on the market needs instead of production limitations.

Want more information? Contact: Kevin.Braeckmans@Graniten.com

Facts about Graniten

Granitenis a global provider of machine solutions to the pharmaceutical manufacturing and healthcare automation sector. They are a valuebased product company with a high competence within automation, electrical design and mechanical engineering

As one of the world’s most innovative automation companies, they help their customers increase their productivity while lowering their environmental impact in a sustainable way.

Graniten aim is to become a business leader in technical solutions & innovations.

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