Chapter 3
Standard Operating Procedures
An orchestra is a collection of musicians who must be closely coordinated in
order to play beautiful music. Coordination is achieved via the use of a musi-
cal score. The score tells them what to play, how, and when. A conductor
keeps them all properly on task. Absent the score and conductor, the likely
result would be a cacophony of noise rather than beautiful music. A change-
over is analogous to an orchestral piece in this regard. The standard operating
procedure (SOP) is the score by which all participants know what they are to
do, how, and when. The supervisor is the conductor who keeps them on task.
As with an experienced orchestra, a well-trained changeover team may not
need much instruction and supervision. They always need some. It is only by
this means that proper and efficient changeovers can be performed.
Standard operating procedures or SOPs go by a number of different
names, including standard operating instructions, procedural guidelines, or
setup specifications to name a few. For simplicity, this book will refer to them
as SOPs. They can be presented in a variety of formats including textual,
pictorial, schematic, flow charts, or a combination. Whatever they are called
and however they are presented, they all have, or should have, one goal: to
properly guide the mechanic or operator through the changeover. SOPs are
sometimes confused with checklists, but they are two different things. This
chapter will discuss both and demonstrate why both are required.
Absent an SOP, changeover is carried out according to the judgment and
experience of the teammates. Training may be done by having the new
teammate observe a more experienced colleague. As this type of training
passes from person to person, a great deal of clarity is lost. This will lead
to the continuation of poor practices. Some will be able to perform a good

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