Compare today's auto racing pit stop to how long it takes your average person to change just one tire and it is clear that there is plenty we can learn about quick changeover from the world of auto racing.
From minutes to seconds
The pit road, as it is called, wasn’t always so fast, but huge improvements were made in 1950s and 1960s. A pneumatic air gun enabled one tire to be changed in just under a minute – an eternity by today’s standards. When floor jacks replaced bumper jacks, another step-wise time reduction was made. Then, in the mid-1960s, pit crews started choreographing their “moves” to reduce motion and eliminate all non-critical steps.
In the 1970s capless filler nozzles eliminated the need for gas caps that took time to unscrew and screw back on. In the 1980s lighter clothing, faster wrenches and improved fuel flow shaved off a few more seconds and in the 1990s race teams instituted “over-the-wall” practice for the pit crews during the week leading up to a race.
Do you get a sense of where this story is going?
Today pit crew members are trained as athletes. They have coaches, fitness and training facilities, high performance clothing, video reviews and they practice, practice, practice. The result is a typical pit stop of 12 seconds on the NASCAR circuit. Pit stop time is often cited as a key factor in race performance.
Bringing pit stop concepts to the shop floor
While your organization isn’t racing head-to-head against your competition, when it comes to equipment changeovers, consistently quick turnovers can have a big impact on production schedules, equipment costs and your bottom line. If your equipment isn’t running, it isn’t making you money.