Seven Deadly Wastes of Lean Manufacturing

Companies adopting a Lean philosophy strive to remove or shorten time spent on activities that the customer doesn’t value. For example, although steps like estimating and makeready are thought of as necessary in the business, they are branded as non-value-added for the customer and targeted for reduction. The basic concept of the Lean philosophy focuses on the removal of the seven deadly wastes in manufacturing and business processes in order to reduce overall waste in the company. What are these deadly wastes, and how do they affect the productivity of a plant? Find the answers below.

1. Defects

Often thought of as the most simple of the deadly wastes, defects can lead to many additional problems you didn’t know you had. When the quality of your work isn’t up to par with a customer’s expectations, it often leads to replacements or refunds. Because of this, defects lead to wasted manpower, resources, and costs.

2. Overproduction

Although being prepared for any circumstances is a good thing, producing too much of a product too soon leads to wasted manpower and resources. Most of the time, managers end up throwing away these products or giving them away for free. When you overproduce, you waste time, resources, and costs.

3. Transportation

Do you transport your resources from one location to another? This is another one of the deadly wastes where expenses could hide. It’s much better to have all of your materials at one location. When doing so, you don’t have to pay for extra manpower or equipment to move pieces. This process doesn’t add to the quality of your finished piece and extends lead time.

4. Waiting

When you send an email with a question, how long does it normally take for the other person to respond—hours, weeks? This time spent waiting for information is time that you or your employees could be spending on creating a product or improving the quality on a finished piece. Companies committed to Lean manufacturing believe that by addressing this deadly waste, you help create a better flowing plant.

5. Inventory

It’s impossible to create a product without an inventory. However, excessive inventory ties up costs in unused materials. Not to mention, you need somewhere to store the inventory, a way to package and keep it safe from damage, and you need to move it around. By only purchasing what you need at the time you need it, you save costs, space, and manpower.

6. Motion

Think about the way your plant is designed. Are your employees walking around to retrieve materials or look for tools? Are they bending down to lift heavy equipment? These kinds of things relate to the deadly waste of motion. If not kept in check, this waste not only adds time and worker fatigue, but it could potentially lead to safety hazards in the workplace—ultimately resulting in employee injuries and worker compensation payouts.

7. Excessive processing

Why spend an excess amount of time working on an aspect of your product that your customer doesn’t care about? For example, cleaning and polishing beyond a required level or painting an area that a customer can’t see requires extra energy that the customer isn’t likely to notice. It’s great to go above and beyond in terms of quality, but saving that manpower for when your customer clearly cares about the difference is often your best bet in reducing this waste.

An eighth waste added by many experts is the underutilization of people’s talents. This leads to frustrated employees, high turnover, and poor morale. It also limits the pace at which organizations can improve.

All employees in a Lean-thinking company should be able to spot the seven deadly wastes in a process and know how to fix the issue. To learn more about how your company can use Lean Manufacturing to reduce waste in your company, register for the 2016 Continuous Improvement Conference today!

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