No more idling

How to opti­mize your set-up times

Time is a valuable com­mo­dity in the highly com­pe­ti­tive manu­fac­tu­ring envi­ron­ment. This is because long set-up times not only drive up pro­duc­tion costs, but also impair your company’s com­pe­ti­ti­ve­ness. We the­r­e­fore pre­sent useful tips to help you opti­mize your set-up times.

Increase pro­duc­ti­vity

Why you should opti­mize your set-up times:

Machine down­times, wai­ting employees and bot­t­len­ecks in the supply chain are the horror of every entre­pre­neur. These sce­na­rios not only dis­rupt the work­flow, but also lead to finan­cial losses and dis­sa­tis­fied cus­to­mers in the long term. How can you avoid this?


By opti­mi­zing your set-up times: With a well thought-out sto­rage system, for example. Once mate­rials and com­pon­ents are easily acces­sible and well sorted, bot­t­len­ecks are iden­ti­fied at an early stage and the pro­duc­tion flow is accelerated.

Pro­duc­tion pro­cesses explained

What are set-up and non-pro­duc­tive times in production?

Pro­duc­tion employees spend a large part of their daily working time sear­ching for mate­rials and main­tai­ning machines. Secon­dary acti­vi­ties such as clam­ping, chan­ging and refil­ling tools also take up valuable time. Time that, from an overall eco­nomic per­spec­tive, could be used much more effi­ci­ently elsewhere. 

When it comes to opti­mi­zing pro­duc­tion pro­cesses, the terms set-up time, idle time, throughput time and so on are often used in this con­text. We take a closer look at these terms for you and explain what these time spans are all about: 

1. Set-up time:
is required to change over a machine, system or pro­duc­tion line to the pro­duc­tion of a new com­po­nent or order
2. Non-pro­duc­tive time:
the time during which a machine or system is at a standstill, for example due to main­ten­ance, repairs or malfunctions
3. Throughput time:
refers to the time that elapses during the com­plete manu­fac­tu­ring pro­cess of a product
4. Auxi­liary time:
for ancil­lary acti­vi­ties that do not directly con­tri­bute to the ful­fill­ment of work tasks
5. Total time:
is the sum of all pro­cess times, inclu­ding set-up, auxi­liary and throughput times
Gabelstapler - Mitarbeiter profitiert von optimierten Rüstzeiten

Ensure pro­duc­tion flow

Opti­mized set-up times = Mini­mized non-pro­duc­tive times

The same machine is often used to manu­fac­ture a wide variety of pro­ducts, which means that indi­vi­dual tool com­pon­ents and set­tings have to be changed or adjusted regu­larly. These pro­cesses can some­times be very time-con­suming and result in long non-pro­duc­tive times. More effi­cient set-up pro­cesses can signi­fi­cantly shorten them, mea­ning that machines are ready for use more quickly and less time is wasted. Opti­mized set-up times are the­r­e­fore the key to mini­mi­zing non-pro­duc­tive times in production. 

Set-up times include:

  • Swit­ching pro­duc­tion off and on again
  • Clea­ning the machines/equipment
  • Set­ting up new tools/components
  • Test runs, func­tional checks and qua­lity assurance
Nebenzeiten in der Fertigung auf ein Minimum reduzieren

Your com­pe­ti­tion is already optimizing

Reduce non-pro­duc­tive times and relieve production

In a study on pro­cess opti­miza­tion in manu­fac­tu­ring, around 100 repre­sen­ta­tives of the metal and elec­trical industry were asked whe­ther and, if so, to what extent they are already opti­mi­zing their setup times. The result was that non-pro­duc­tive times have long been a hot topic of dis­cus­sion within the industry and are beco­ming incre­asingly important for production.


times a week, machines are usually retooled 


a con­ver­sion takes hours on average 


per­cent of respond­ents have already taken mea­sures for optimization 


per­cent is the poten­tial for optimization 

How modern manu­fac­tu­ring works

Opti­mize set-up times and collect benefits

Inves­ting in the opti­miza­tion of set-up times pays off in many ways in the long term. Here are just a few of the many benefits: 

Increased productivity 
Shorter set-up times mean more time for actual pro­duc­tion, which increases overall productivity. 
Cost savings 
Effi­cient set-up times reduce machine down­time, lowe­ring pro­duc­tion costs per unit and the­r­e­fore impro­ving profitability. 
Greater flexibility 
Faster set-up times make it pos­sible to react more fle­xibly to chan­ging pro­duct requi­re­ments or market trends. 
Avo­id­ance of bottlenecks 
Effi­cient set-up times mini­mize the risk of pro­duc­tion bot­t­len­ecks, which could lead to deli­very delays and dis­sa­tis­fied customers. 
Increased quality 
Shorter set-up times reduce the pro­ba­bi­lity of errors or qua­lity pro­blems during the set-up process. 
Improved employee satisfaction 
Shorter set-up times enable employees to work more effi­ci­ently and the­r­e­fore con­tri­bute to satis­fac­tion and motivation. 
Uti­liza­tion of capacities 
Effi­cient set-up times ensure that machines and sys­tems are opti­mally uti­lized and thus maxi­mize pro­duc­tion capacity. 
Fast response times 
Opti­mized set-up times allow you to react more quickly to last-minute orders or changes in production. 
Com­pe­ti­tive advantage 
Com­pa­nies with opti­mized set-up times are able to manu­fac­ture pro­ducts faster and more cost-effi­ci­ently, which can give them a com­pe­ti­tive advantage. 
Better image 
Reliable and punc­tual deli­veries due to opti­mized set-up times can streng­then the company’s trust and image with customers. 

Non-pro­duc­tive times? Not with us!

We help you to opti­mize your set-up times

Would you like to finally get your warehouse up to scratch, but have no idea how best to go about opti­mi­zing it? We pro­vide you with expert sup­port from plan­ning to commissioning. 

Methods pre­sented

Opti­mi­zing set-up times for pro­duc­tion at full speed

The tar­geted opti­miza­tion of set-up times is the­r­e­fore an essen­tial step towards incre­asing effi­ci­ency in pro­duc­tion. This opens up a wide range of starting points. Out­stan­ding mea­sures can be found in the area of lean manage­ment, for example. This manage­ment phi­lo­sophy aims to reduce waste and improve the value chain. For example, there are spe­cial methods to reduce the time required for tool changes:


(Single Minute Exch­ange of Die)

SMED is a pro­cess that aims to make tool changes as effi­cient as pos­sible. To this end, tasks are par­al­le­lized where pos­sible, super­fluous steps are eli­mi­nated and pro­cesses are stan­dar­dized. A basic distinc­tion is made bet­ween internal and external set-up steps. 

  • Internal set-up times: Time required during machine down­times to carry out setups
  • External setup times: Time required to prepare setups while the machines are still running
Entdecken Sie unser Sortiment an Regalen für die sichere Lagerung von Blechtafeln

Once all setup steps have been iden­ti­fied and divided into internal and external acti­vi­ties, these can be opti­mized with the right warehouse equip­ment. In a sheet metal pro­ces­sing com­pany, opti­mi­zing the warehouse could look some­thing like this:

  • Internal set-up times: such as the time required to feed the right mate­rials to laser machines, cut­ting sys­tems and the like can be reduced to an abso­lute minimum with our Böckelt shuttle tower with inte­grated sle­wing crane and vacuum lifter, for example
  • External set-up times: can be reduced by using warehouse manage­ment soft­ware with a con­nected trans­ponder system and starting the pre­pa­ra­tion of the next batch while pro­duc­tion is still running
The aim is always to transfer as many internal steps as pos­sible to external ones so that machine down­times can ide­ally be avo­ided altog­e­ther. We are happy to help you with this opti­miza­tion with our fle­xible sto­rage and logi­stics systems. 
Hochwertige Lagerregale - Kassettenregal für Industrie und Handel

QCO (Quick Change Over)

Quick Change Over, or “quick set-up”, refers to swit­ching quickly from the pro­duc­tion of one pro­duct to the manu­fac­ture of ano­ther. You can do this par­ti­cu­larly well by: 

  • develop stan­dar­dized work ins­truc­tions for each setup step
  • make use of quick-change sys­tems for your tools
  • avoid long sear­ches for mate­rials with a well thought-out sto­rage system
  • keep an eye on your stock levels with intel­li­gent manage­ment software

OTED (One-touch Exch­ange of Die)

OTED is a fur­ther deve­lo­p­ment of SMED, in which the tool change takes place in a single work step or in less than a minute. A well-known example of a suc­cessful imple­men­ta­tion is the tire change in For­mula 1 racing. In the sheet metal pro­ces­sing industry, the rea­liza­tion of OTED is often dif­fi­cult and cannot usually be imple­mented wit­hout spe­ci­ally deve­loped machines. Moreover, even the best machines are use­less if you do not have an opti­mized warehouse. We will be happy to advise you on your options. 

Mea­sures at a glance

Opti­mi­zing set-up times, where to start?

Starting wit­hout a plan is rarely a good idea — and opti­mi­zing set-up and non-pro­duc­tive times in pro­duc­tion is no excep­tion. We have the­r­e­fore put tog­e­ther a sel­ec­tion of useful opti­miza­tion mea­sures for you:

For an effi­cient chan­geover pro­cess, it is important to store the tools cor­rectly. Quick, easy access in easily acces­sible cas­sette and drawer racks and short con­nec­ting routes speed up the set-up process.

Warehouse manage­ment sys­tems (WMS) and auto­mated sto­rage solu­tions can help to effi­ci­ently track inven­tory, improve accu­racy and ensure the avai­la­bi­lity of materials. 

Quick-change sys­tems and devices such as the sle­wing crane or vacuum lifter of our exch­ange tower can also help to mini­mize your set-up times. 

Clear cate­go­riza­tion of stock and shelves makes it easier to iden­tify and select the required mate­rials and mini­mizes the time spent sear­ching for spe­cific parts.

Regular stock checks help to avoid over­sto­cking while ensu­ring that there is always enough mate­rial available to main­tain production.

It makes sense to order mate­rials so that they arrive exactly when they are needed for pro­duc­tion. Our warehouse manage­ment soft­ware helps you to keep track of your stocks at all times and iden­tify bot­t­len­ecks at an early stage.

The ability to trace mate­rials back to their origin is important in order to quickly iden­tify and sort out faulty or pro­ble­matic parts. Here too, our warehouse manage­ment system can pro­vide valuable services.

Well-trained employees under­stand warehouse orga­niza­tion, know how to search and store effi­ci­ently and can thus help to speed up your processes.

Haven’t found the right answer yet? Give us a quick call and let’s chat!

No time to stand still

We sup­port you in opti­mi­zing your set-up times

We will be happy to help you opti­mize your set-up times and non-pro­duc­tive times as effi­ci­ently as possible.