The 12 Step Quick Changeover Program
John R Henry, The Changeover Wizard
You won't get to quick changeover by accident. You will only get quick changeovers if you have a program to get there. This is the program that has worked in plants like yours. It will work for you and you are free to use it.

1. Calculate the cost of changeover - This must be the first step and must be done by the finance department. Anything else is unofficial and will have credibility issues. Improving changeover will cost money. Generally not major capital expenses, though there can be some, but a lot of relatively small expenses as well as time. If the cost of changeover is not known, it is impossible to evaluate whether improvements make sense. (If you want to know more about costs, drop me an e-mail at and I'll send you a presentation I did on costs)

2. Decide that a program will be implemented and set a timetable - Talking about improving changeover is not a program. Putting it off doesn't make it get any better. Just do it. The timetable, initially, is for getting the program going, not necessarily accomplishing reductions. It takes an effort and if there is no deadline it will get pushed back into never-never-land.

3. Develop metrics to measure changeover times - As the saying goes, if you don't measure it, you won't control it. Decide what you will measure as well as how you will define it and how you will measure it. Absent good metrics there is no way to know if changeover is getting better or worse.

4. Decide which areas you will focus on - I divide changeover into two broad categories. "Mechanical" is the modification of machinery and equipment to ease changeover. "Operational" are all other functions including material handling, documentation, quality inspections/line clearance, package/product design, job assignments, scheduling. Some of these are interactive but for the most part they can be viewed as separate paths. In some plants the big bottleneck will be operational issues. In others it will be mechanical. Both need to be addressed but, depending on the resources available, it may be best to focus on one or the other at least initially.

5. Decide who will be on the team - Especially at the beginning, a primary attribute of the team members must be enthusiasm. The selection of team members will depend to some degree on which path, mechanical or operational, you will initially concentrate on. One key is that the team have a leader, what I call a "Champion" who can preside in an effective manner. This Champion can be a manager, supervisor, engineer, mechanic or operator. The most important qualification, in my view, is a strong belief in the benefits of reducing changeover and a desire to succeed. Needless to say, whoever is selected to be Champion, they must have strong support from management.

6. Provide training - The first thing they need is training. It is not reasonable to simply expect a team to come together and intuitively figure out how to reduce changeover times. This training must include the basics such as definitions and must provide a methodology for looking at changeover and identifying improvement opportunities. Finally it must provide techniques to implement those opportunities. Finally, the training must provide facilitated opportunities to practice the methodologies and techniques. NOTE: This is precisely what my "Changeover Made ESEE" workshop is designed to do. E-mail me at for more info.

7. Provide resources - The most important resource to be provided is time. The team must have time to meet. Meetings should be regular and should have an agenda. Other resources include books, magazines, contacts and even visits with other similar and dissimilar plants. It goes without saying that resources must also include support and funding to implement improvements.

8. Set goals - If it is not specific, with a completion deadline, it is not a goal, it is merely a good intention and we know what road is paved with those, don't we? A generic goal I often recommend is a 50% reduction in 6 months. Milestones along the way are also a good idea. The problem with continuous or perpetual programs is that people lose enthusiasm and that without time pressure of a deadline, some of the sense of urgency is lost. This does not mean that at the end of the project you should stop improving. Simply start another project when the first is finished. It may have some different people and/or a different focus. I favor a series of consecutive, specific, projects rather than the amorphous perpetual project.

9. Implement the program - As the team develops improvements, they should be implemented as soon as possible. One of the things I recommend is that some very simple, quick (less than 2 weeks) to implement improvements be implemented right off the bat. This will instill an initial sense of success and confidence and can be built on with more complex improvements.

10. Expect failures - Babe Ruth, who long held the baseball homerun record still holds the strike out record. There will be failures. Do not let them slow the program. Build on them and learn from mistakes.

11. Recognize the participants - At the end of the program, take stock of what has been accomplished. Was the goal met? Why or why not? How much benefit has the program been to the company in dollars? Congratulate the participants for a job well done (or at least a valiant effort if the goal was not met.)

12. Go back to step 1 and start all over again - Your competition is continually getting better. You can't stop now.

Deming said: "I don't claim it is easy. I only claim it works" He was talking about quality but he could just as well have been talking about Quick Changeover.

It does work. It does give you additional capacity at no capital cost. It does let you strategically leapfrog your competition.

Remember: 10W-40. 10 minutes of wasted downtime daily is more than 40 hours a year of lost production.

What would you do with an extra week of production? What will you do with the raise you get for the increased productivity?

To see how much you can save, try our interactive loss calculator at

Then get started today.

I'd like to hear from you. Call me at 787-550-9650 or email
Quick Changeover Made ESEE
Workshop Offer
The hardest part of a Quick Changeover program is getting started. The easiest way to get started is with my Changeover Made ESEE Workshop. Here's a special offer for newsletter readers:

You have the motivation,
I have the method

ESEE (Pronounced Easy) stands for E liminate, S implify, E xternalize, E xecute. Use it and watch changeover downtime disappear.

My 1 day workshop kickstarts your changeovers.

Learn - I teach the ESEE method with samples, examples, videos and dialogue. I challenge your team to come up with ideas that you can use on your floor.
Do - Your team applies the concepts using the Monster Maker changeover simulator.
Liftoff! - Your team is ready to hit the deck running the next day. They will be able to identify and implement opportunities to reduce changeover downtime. Within 10 days they will be able to implement enough improvements to pay for the workshop and more

I'll train up to 15 of your people, in your plant, for $3,950, US travel included. This includes free copies of my Achieving Lean Changeover Coursebook, a ($50 value!) for each attendee.

(Additional coaching, mini or full kaizens are available for $1,600 per day, all-in)

I'm John Henry. They call me the Changeover Wizard because I make downtime disappear like magic.

You can learn how in my workshop Achieving Lean Changeover: Putting SMED to Work

Call me 1-787-550-9650 email to schedule a session or request more information.

The sooner you start, the sooner you win.
To see how much time, money and production changeover is costing you using our interactive calculator click the link below.  

Or drop a note to and I'll be happy to send you a more detailed Excel version. 
I'll also send you a copy of my book (with Rich Frain) Secrets of Buying Packaging Machinery. The secrets work with for buying any kind of production macninery. | 1-787-550-9650 | 
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