MITSUBISHI ELECTRIC Changes for the Better
Supply chain

Rapid production line changeover as a way to ensure supply continuity in difficult times

27.03.20244 min read

According to a recent KPMG study, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected every part of the value chain, from raw material sourcing to the customer. It has tested the commercial, operational, financial and organisational resilience of the majority of companies across the globe, and highlighted the risks and resiliency gaps for many organisations.

There are many ways in which companies can address the challenges related to the uncertainty of post-COVID times and support supply continuity. One of the most interesting methods is a rapid production line changeover, which is considered to be a true game changer for process manufacturers in today’s competitive (and unpredictable) economy.

What is the rapid production line changeover about?

  • It’s a company’s ability to rapidly change its manufacturing line, to switch from one product to another and to allow for cost-effective low-volume production runs and to turn out custom-made goods on demand in locations of its choosing.
  • It’s a direct response to constantly and rapidly changing expectations of consumers in terms of diverse and innovative products.
  • Rapid changeover is an important component of lean manufacturing, as time spent resetting the production line is time wasted.
  • The reduction of machine setup times enables the production of small batches and decreases lead time (the period of time between a buyer’s purchase order being placed and the manufacturer completing the order).
  • Changeover is a key precondition for increased flexibility, reduced lead time and responsive production.
  • It’s related to Single Minute Exchange of Die (SMED) method which guarantees a continuous flow of the product without any loss of performance.

The biggest challenge in this respect is how to sharply reduce changeover time. Forward-looking companies look for ways to speed up the production line changeover process and eliminate any and all operational errors resulting from the manual setting of numerous parameters. Where instant changeover can be achieved, it results in an extremely flexible solution, allowing for significant savings of time and money.

As always, modern technological solutions are crucial to achieving a competitive advantage in this area.

  • The key element is including the changeover times as a part of the tooling/machine system design.
  • Rapid and reliable changeovers can be enabled by applying powerful and precise cutting-edge electronic and motor solutions, such as those offered by Mitsubishi Electric (read the case study on how using the Mitsubishi Electric technique has led to significant reductions in the changeover time here).
  • Built-in, precisely controlled automation not only protects products; it also makes changeovers between different production runs faster and easier.

CSCMP’s Supply Chain Quarterly considers rapid manufacturing to be one of the most important influences on the future global supply chain. This flexible, consumer-driven production strategy enables a truly distributed supply chain, where manufacturing can take place simultaneously at multiple locations close to the end of this process, namely the client. This new structure could eliminate many stages of the traditional supply chain, affecting transportation of finished goods, subsequently leading to enhanced control over the process as well as reducing the cost of lead times, inventory, and logistics.


Supply chain