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Training, Acceptance, Involvement, and Support

Training, Acceptance, Involvement, and Support

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20 Quick Die Change

tify, develop, and market personal core competencies. Personal

security comes from one’s employability, not one’s present


Education and lifelong learning—while companies may continue to educate workers on company-specific process and technologies, wise employers expect a high level of knowledge in

the workforce. Much of the knowledge that companies require

of a worker needs to be gained through his or her initiative.

Workers will depend on public institutions (schools and colleges) and public access (the Internet) for this store of knowledge.

Lifetime resource planning—given instability in employment,

workers must control their long-term financial planning—planning that will give them the financial ability to maintain their

choice of lifestyles during retirement.

Communications—the familiar hierarchical model of bosses

directing employees is shifting to one of teams of specialists

working together to meet shared goals. This means workers

must communicate well, with clarity and honesty, and develop

a culture of trust-based relationships. Some companies may be

strong enough to do this from within, but most will need the

support of the societal institutions to help build workforce

communication skills.

Change skills—people who have not had to change jobs very

often have difficulty in coping with change. There is a certain

skill in responding to the unknown. Change without practice

and not having coping skills is painful, even devastating.” ( Jordan and Michel 2001)


Most stamping managers have identified poor die setting practices as a major cause of equipment damage and quality problems in

their plants. A lack of proper procedures, equipment, and training

usually causes poor practices. Proper die setting practices are an

absolute requirement if a reduction in setup time and improved setup

repeatability is to be realized.

In some shops, little thought is given to the training and supervision of die setters. If a new die setter is permitted to work with an

Training, Acceptance, Involvement, and Support


experienced die setter who is about to retire in several weeks, the skills

imparted in such a short time may prove inadequate. The newcomer

will only learn those essentials that the experienced die setter is willing to teach. In addition, the newcomer is apt to learn a lifetime of bad

die setting practices and dangerous shortcuts.

The job of press operator and die setter is increasingly being combined. Good procedures such as standardized clamping and locating

methods have simplified die setting. Die handling improvements such

as die cart systems and die storage at the point of use have made

exchanging dies much faster and safer. Figure 3-1 illustrates a die setter having a problem with a tangled coil of steel. Management may

assume the problem is that the die setter does not understand his or

her job. There also may be a problem with the steel. The problem is

that the cradle type decoiler is out of adjustment and is probably not

designed to handle narrow thick stock. Perhaps a horizontal pallet

type decoiler or proper arbor type decoiler is required. A knowledgeable trainer can work with the team or associates to suggest the use of

a better decoiler. Rebanding of partial coils of this type of stock is difficult, and if done safely, adds to changeover time.

The goal must be to have training embrace continuously improved

procedures supported and reinforced by management and team

members. Die setting and pressworking operations can be quite safe.

Without proper training, teamwork, and supervision, it is extremely

dangerous work.

Safety engineer and training expert Gordon Wall brought safety

into focus during a video training interview. He stated that shared

safety responsibility includes:

• Danger inherent in die setting—die setting is a very dangerous

operation. However, if it’s done safely and correctly in a uniform method, die setting is like anything else. If a bomb is handled safely, it doesn’t blow up; lives are not lost. If die setting is

handled correctly and safely, it doesn’t backfire and take fingers, arms, and lives.

• Quick die change (QDC) improvements tie in with die setting

safety—when using quick die setting methodology there is a

rigid way of doing business. Problems can be corrected and

identified in advance, therefore the correct screw, nuts, bolts,

and fixtures hold the die in place; there is always a uniform shut

22 Quick Die Change

Figure 3-1. Shown is a die setter dealing with a tangled coil of steel. An improvement is needed in the type of decoiler used.

Training, Acceptance, Involvement, and Support


height; and there is a stop place for the dies to locate. Make it

easier for the die setter to pick up the right kind of tools, use

them correctly to die set, and his or her safety is almost guaranteed.

• Power lockout—power lockout is followed as needed by governing law and plant safety procedures during die setting.

Power lockout is a way of guaranteeing that every individual

who impacts the maintenance, use, setup, or operation of that

press is safe.

• Why lockout is required—power lockout for the die setting

helps the die setter do a safer job. If there isn’t power lockout in

the position where the die is in place on the bolster and the die

is shut partly bolted in, someone will assume that the previous

job is finished and try to cycle that press.

• Other power lockout benefits—if it is done correctly, there will

not be a situation where tools are left inadvertently in the cavity of the die and then the die is shut and it shatters. There have

been incidents of die blocks that were propelled across the

room, hitting people and resulting in fatalities. There are several cases in the state of Michigan where parallel attachment

failed resulting in a fatality. Tools fly out, hurting innocent people when a power lockout is used incorrectly (Smith 1992).


Employee involvement and interaction is a proven method to

improve work methods and quality. Employee involvement groups

and quality improvement circles have been a boon to the manufacturers who provide engineering and management support to refine and

implement the team’s ideas.

Die setters, diemakers, maintenance employees, and operators

should meet regularly for discussion of methods to improve overall

plant performance. Effective meetings can be a key to reaching the

goal of continuous improvement of all aspects of plant operations.

Meetings are not a periodic time to simply visit and discuss shop

issues—the focus is developing a plan to achieve improvements and

realistic timelines for carrying the work to completion.

24 Quick Die Change


A wise person once observed that to be considered an expert, one

must be at least 50 miles from home. The use of instructors from outside the company together with active management participation is a

good way to keep the group fluid and maintain a continuous improvement focus. Even though in-plant management may have been trying

for years to drive home the same message outsiders bring to the plant,

it is a way to show that the information is important.

Instructor Qualifications

Bad training can be worse than no training at all. It does little good

for an expert in large automotive transfer presses to train employees in

pressrooms doing small work. Such instructors have been shocked to

learn that such shops typically set dies with hand carts or forklift

trucks—for them the best and most cost-effective way. Make sure the

instructor is familiar with the work the shop does by requesting samples of the training materials the instructor intends to use. It is important the instructor be very familiar with the training materials. It is a

bad idea to hire an instructor who intends to keep a paragraph ahead of

the class in a textbook. It won’t work with experienced pressroom personnel such as die setters. Chaos will occur.


When the cost of time off the job is considered with the instructor’s

fee, training is costly. A good dedicated conference room in the plant

or renting one at a local hotel and providing a light lunch makes good

economic and psychological sense when the other costs and benefits of

good training are considered.

Everyone Must be Able to Hear the Speaker

This is not as simple a problem as one might think. Hearing loss is

a problem in the stamping industry. This is especially true in older

workers who may have the combined effects of noise-induced hearing

loss and the loss of hearing acuity attributable to aging. Employees

with many years’ stamping experience may have worked in shops

Training, Acceptance, Involvement, and Support


with high noise levels before mandated hearing conservation programs were taken seriously.

Most persons with hearing loss can hear satisfactorily if:

1. The level of background noise from air handling equipment,

projector cooling blowers, etc., is not excessive.

2. The level of sound transmitted into the meeting room from outside sources is not excessive.

3. The ratio of direct to reflected sound reaching the listener is


4. Sound reinforcing equipment is adjusted to emphasize the frequency range from 1,800 to 3,500 Hz.

Meeting room design predetermines most of these factors. Hearing

loss is so widespread in the industry that an acoustically suitable training room should be considered a must for effective training to take


Consider the use of a wireless microphone. This will permit the

trainer to walk around the room and field questions by giving the microphone to the person asking a question or making a comment so

everyone can hear and interact.

A Comfortable Temperature is Necessary

The instructor should have control over the temperature. The temperature should not exceed 72° F (22° C). A good idea is to reduce the

temperature several degrees when breaking for lunch in the case of a

daylong conference to help keep everyone awake. The temperature

need not be restored until first afternoon break unless someone complains of being cold.

Room Layout for Good Vision

The layout of the room depends upon the type of meeting to be conducted and the number of attendees. A good room layout for 15–30 persons is a U-shaped table layout. Such an arrangement encourages lively

participant interaction because they can see and hear each other easily.

The projector or laptop computer can be placed away from the tables to

reduce the noise and resulting distraction to those seated near it.

26 Quick Die Change

Comfortable Seating

Some metal or molded plastic chairs become uncomfortable quickly. Comfortable chairs contribute to the accommodation and attention

of those in attendance.

Audio-Visual Equipment

High-quality equipment such as slide projectors, overhead transparency or computer projectors, motion picture projectors, and video

equipment is necessary. Nothing is more foolish than to interrupt a

training class for want of a spare projector bulb when the manufacturer states that they can be expected to fail after a few hours of use.

Audio-visual equipment, like presses and dies, requires regular maintenance and spare parts. Video equipment is particularly important as

many companies tape their die changes for later review. A large blackboard or flip chart easel with lots of blank pages and a supply of markers is necessary when fielding questions and recording points brought

out during group discussions. An overhead transparency projector

with blank transparencies also is suitable.

Many speakers have moved their information into Microsoft PowerPoint®, or similar software. PowerPoint is the popular business and

Internet presentation tool in the Microsoft Office® software suite.

Using design templates, a speaker can create presentations that are

compelling and can include animation, video, sound, and narration

clips. The development of these software products and their proper

use can provide tremendous improvement in the quality of presentations. However, like any visual media, the projection equipment and

formatting the font size on the slides must ensure that everyone can

read the projected statements easily from anywhere in the room. If

using software-based presentations, it is advisable to complete a practice run of the information well in advance of the presentation. Many

speakers have been embarrassed by computer incompatibility rendering them unable to present their information. However, when the

software is fully functional, the presentation can be first class.

Consider filling in the PowerPoint files with some verbiage and

turning the presentation into a technical paper, which can be distributed at the seminar or later seminars. As former Association of Forming

and Fabricating Technology of SME (AFFT/SME) Chairman Dr.

Training, Acceptance, Involvement, and Support


Charles L. Caristan put it, “We (AFFT/SME) encourage all to take pride

in their work and not be satisfied with superficial cryptic PowerPoint

files and, instead, to take time to lay in written text, ideas they usually

verbalize without needing to think about them.” (Caristan 2002)

Freedom from Distractions

Nothing is more disturbing to an instructor who is conducting inplant training than to have the meeting frequently interrupted by persons needing to ask questions of a participant. Even if the question

only takes a couple of minutes to answer, it completely distracts the

group’s attention from the discussion. The cost to the company is hard

to measure. Clearly, the training is not as effective as it might be otherwise. Often, conducting the training away from the plant has advantages in improved effectiveness that outweigh additional cost.


Few customized training materials exist on the subject of die setting. Companies usually have their own in-house standards. These

vary from verbal instructions and crude sketches to die setting instructions for each die and press in which the die may be set, complete

with digital color photographs and step-by-step procedures for prestaging the job and carrying out the changeover.

Damage Avoidance Instruction

A proven way to avoid costs associated with press and die damage is to show the pressroom employees why everyday bad practices

damage equipment and lower productivity. Visual aids such as simple drawings, overhead transparencies and photographs illustrate a

sequence of events. To tell an employee not to let mis-hits occur is not

enough. They must understand exactly why the practice is troubling,

costly, and forbidden.

If a shop is fortunate enough to have an unofficial resident cartoonist (a person who draws cartoons depicting outstanding booboos), you may wish to have this person prepare drawings for display

in the shop to illustrate good versus bad practices. A little humor is

good for morale.

28 Quick Die Change

The Diemaker’s Point of View Adds Insight

Having experienced die makers in the class is helpful. They are

usually happy to share their point of view on the cause-and-effect relationships of poor pressroom practices and equipment damage.

Let Quality Control Add Perspective

All burrs, distorted trim edges, and off-angle flanges from dies

that once produced top-quality parts have a root cause. Often this root

cause is not normal die wear, but rather, die handling and setup damage. Quality control managers and technicians are willing to share

SPC and Pareto chart data that illustrates problems associated with

setting the die in a bad press or the effect of stamping damage.

Avoid Tooling Damage and Defective Stampings

Whenever damage to equipment occurs through some careless

act, there are usually several “versions” of the cause. If one were to

accept and analyze reports at face value, the conclusion would be that

“nearly all damage to presses and dies takes place on the night shift

during normal production runs.” It is important that damage be

reported. However, one important way that management reduces the

incidence of press and die damage through careless acts is to encourage “no fault” reporting of mis-hits.

Off-gage stampings and progression strips provide valuable information to the die maker about possible die damage. Analysis of the

root cause of an improper stamping also should determine the need

for sensor protection. Falsely reported bad stampings during production can result in unwarranted suspicion of the sensor’s value.


When and how to schedule die setter training must take into consideration the need to set dies and service the needs of production,

along with assuring that everyone has plenty of rest. In-plant die setter training usually is conducted on overtime, either before or after the

normal shift. If the instructor is an employee or local person, it may be

feasible to conduct an hour or two of training for the afternoon shift in

Training, Acceptance, Involvement, and Support


the early afternoon before their normal starting time, followed by the

same training for day shift employees on overtime. If there are any

midnight shift employees to be trained, it can either be done in the

morning after their normal quitting time, or by requiring them to

attend one of the day or afternoon shift meetings. If an in-plant training seminar is planned, it may be feasible to schedule it during a vacation shutdown period or other scheduled non-production periods.

The most important consideration is that training be designated as a

high priority. Management should attend team-training meetings.

Interruptions must not be permitted. If the meeting is interrupted to

discuss production problems, or if members must leave the meeting to

take care of production problems, the message will be that the meeting and setup reduction program is unimportant.


In the author’s experience, union shops are as easy to conduct

training in as non-union shops. The union leadership has always been

cooperative and enthusiastic about the results they expected in job

security enhancement.

Communications and Involvement

The union officers in a plant are the chosen leadership in a democratic organization. While employees will be expected to work as a

self-reliant team, it is critical to communicate with the union leadership concerning any plans for employee training. Any union leader

wants the facts before being questioned by the membership concerning any new program. If they are not informed in advance, they are

unable to answer union member’s questions about the effect of new

methods on existing work rules. This results in unwarranted opposition that can easily set back the program.

Honesty is Vital

To be accepted, the goal of a setup reduction program should not

be to reduce the head count of the workforce. Securing more work

because of reduced costs is a concept that makes sense. If reassignments are envisioned, indicate this at the outset and work with the

30 Quick Die Change

union leadership to provide a smooth transition. Workforce reduction

through attrition may be an acceptable means to reduce the workforce.

Layoffs that are a direct result of union acquiescence to a change in

work methods are politically unacceptable.


It is every bit as important to communicate with first-line production management concerning the goals of setup reduction training as

it is the union. The union has no stake in the status quo, particularly

if the situation is costing the company money and may result in job

cutbacks. Production management has a responsibility in continuing

to manage a crisis. In some shops, nearly every die set is handled as a


Managing a Crisis

The production supervisor considers himself or herself to be an

expert at knowing what works and what doesn’t in a crisis. Scheduling mistakes are expected as the norm in the shop. Almost any scheduling mistake can be accommodated. Many production supervisors

think that they invented flexible manufacturing. Supervisors may not

see any reason to change. No captain wants to abandon his ship. Why

should die setters want to change? Why do they need training? If they

have any questions, it is the supervisor’s job to answer them.

The production supervisor knows that the die setters are experts

at scrounging. Somehow, they get the job set-up and running. They

can set any die in most presses—even if the die shoe hangs over the

edge of the bolster by a foot. The supervisor has a solid reputation of

getting the job to run and the parts delivered on time.


Since it is important to secure the acceptance in advance of the

union leadership and first line supervision, it may be wise to do so at

the same time. A simple solution may be advanced training for supervision and union leadership. Everyone appreciates rewards. Field

trips can be lots of fun. Sending such a group of employees out of town

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