How can tool organization reduce waste?

While it may seem logical to put tools in toolbox drawers and call it organized, you may be wasting more resources than you realize. Wasted resources, whether it’s time, money, or movement, are all at stake when a toolbox or workbench is cluttered and disorganized. By implementing a new tool organization strategy, a noticeable improvement can be made in all three areas.

  • Time: Time often effects the process as whole; the more time that is wasted the longer it takes for the customer to receive the final product or service. When tools are put back in a disorganized manner, workers will have to spend an extra amount of time locating the tool they need and digging through a toolbox to find it. If materials, tools, or equipment are placed around the facility in an illogical order, tools and equipment needed in the beginning of the manufacturing process are kept clear across the facility, time will be wasted as workers have to walk across the workplace to fetch the needed tool or use a piece of equipment.
  • Money: Tools can often get lost when they’re kept in drawers or out of sight. For example, keeping all the wrenches in one drawer labeled “wrenches” may seem like an effective strategy, but it can actually lead to a waste of money. If a worker is looking for a 5/16 wrench and can’t locate it in the drawer, they might report that a wrench is missing to a manager or supervisor. The manager or supervisor may then order a new one to replace the missing wrench. If the missing wrench is located after the purchase is made, the money spent on the replacement is seen as a waste of money.
  • Movement/Motion: A waste identified in the 8 Wastes of Lean is non-essential movement. This type of waste is identified as movement in the manufacturing process that does not add value to the product or service. It would be near impossible to eliminate all movement in a process, but a facility can work to reduce it as much as possible. If the layout of tools and materials are not placed in a logical manner, movement will be wasted as workers move around the workplace resulting in wasteful movements. Placing tools in a way that correlates with the steps of processes will keep workers moving efficiently around their work cell and ultimately reduce the time a customer is waiting for the finished product or service.

While some of these wastes may seem minor, it is important to note these will add up and make a significant impact.


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