Lean manufacturing is focused on waste identification and elimination in the workplace. When using this program, it is necessary to get specific in regard to what types of waste exist, so that it can be more easily eliminated. With this in mind, the Lean manufacturing system classifies seven specific types of waste, and one additional type that many facilities are adding into the program. This is often referred to as the 8 wastes of Lean. These types of waste are as follows.
Any time raw materials, works-in-progress, or even finished goods are moved, it should be with a purpose. If you are moving these items from one place to another where they will be stored, then from that storage area to a loading dock, then from the loading dock to a truck, you have a lot of waste. Finding ways to eliminate any of the transportation of these items is a form of waste reduction.
Having too much of any type of inventory is very wasteful. It ties up your cash flow, and even adds risk to the company. If you’re holding on to a large amount of inventory, then demand suddenly drops off, you will have to slash your prices or even take a complete loss. Minimizing inventory levels to meet demand is another form of waste reduction.
If an operator is moving equipment around during the production of a product, it is going to be wasteful. Positioning equipment in a smart way that will maximize its efficiency will help avoid unnecessary downtime or delays caused by the movement of machinery.
Waiting and Delay
If you have to stop production while waiting for a part, an employee, or anything else, it is causing waste. Keeping the facility actively producing products the entire time it is open is the only way to maximize efficiency and eliminate this type of waste.
Using inefficient processes that result in spending time and energy creating something that a customer won’t use is a big form of waste. Taking the time to identify exactly what the customer wants, and meeting that need, will avoid wasting time and energy on creating unsellable products.
Over-processing is whenever you are spending time and energy on an improvement to a product when the customer won’t pay extra for it. For example, if you are making a spark-plug, it may be over-processing to offer it in ten different colors. Most customers don’t care what color their spark plug is, so it is wasteful to spend time painting it in multiple colors.
While defects are sometimes unavoidable, the number of them that occur should be reduced to an absolute minimum. Whenever a defect occurs, it is important to take the time to figure out what caused it, and put in a permeant fix so that it doesn’t happen again. Over time, this will help to dramatically reduce waste.
The last type of waste is safety problems. When someone gets hurt, or the facility itself is put at risk, there is a lot of potential waste. An injury will often require production to stop while an investigation takes place, and may also cost money in having to treat the employee. Improving safety in the workplace has been shown to significantly cut out many types of waste.
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