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Tips to Minimize Types of Waste with Lean Manufacturing

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By Emilie A Lachance - October 12, 2020

Lean manufacturing is a continuous improvement tool, aimed at reducing manufacturing waste and increasing production efficiency. Its implementation is often credited with leading to higher gross value added, increased profits, safer work environments, and happier customers. If you aren’t implementing lean manufacturing principles, you aren’t competing well with companies that are. 

Basic Lean Manufacturing Principles to Combat Each of the Eight Deadly Wastes

When implementing lean manufacturing principles, eight wastes are identified and minimized. Below, we review some suggestions to minimize each type of lean manufacturing waste.

1. Defects Waste

Defects waste refers to products that are defective—meaning they deviate from a specification or a customer’s order—when they are finished, making them unsellable or requiring valorization (rework). Even if a product can be reworked, this still falls under the category of defect waste. 

The first step in eliminating defects waste is to review what the design calls for. Is it possible to actually produce defects-free parts or assemblies (that meet specifications) given the resources and machinery available in the current process? 

Next, look at the production process being used. Is it well documented and repeatable? Are different workers or shifts following different processes? Do workers have suggestions for improving the process? 

Defects can be minimized in a number of other ways, from quality-checking raw material to ensure that it will not produce a faulty product, to simply performing maintenance on machines to ensure that they don’t malfunction and produce bad products. 

Leveraging Technology to Calculate OEE in Manufacturing

2. Overproduction Waste

Overproduction waste is the waste that leads to excess inventory. Overproduction, in addition to being waste in itself, causes another type of waste: wasted energy on producing products that aren’t needed. Eliminating excessive work in processing goods that may not be used can help minimize excess inventory and will ensure that energy is not spent on overproducing a product that isn’t needed.

Overproduction waste is usually a symptom of a misalignment between forecasts and actual production. Putting into place a real-time factory analytics solution such as Worximity can help you to pinpoint exactly how much has been produced at a given point in time. This helps you avoid overly long production runs that produce overproduction waste. Once you’re able to exactly measure production output, you can begin to figure out if your forecasted needs are incorrect and adjust forecasts to meet actual production required.

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3. Waiting Waste

Waiting is wasteful when caused by unexpected downtime, meaning that employees are still on the clock and machines may still be operating, but no product is in active production. Waiting waste can be created by different production speeds from one station or line to another, or downtimes that cause repercussions up and down a production line. 

Waiting waste can be reduced by measuring machinery downtimes across a line to see where bottlenecks are being created using a tool like Worximity or by undertaking line balancing.

4. Non-Utilization Waste

Non-utilization waste is created when workers are not being utilized up to their capacity. This can mean that they have idle or unproductive time, or that their available skills are not used to their maximum impact. 

Minimizing non-utilization waste takes a combination of data collection and management. A tool like Worximity can help to identify when a product is not being moved through a process and a worker is idle. A worker may be underutilized because they are distracted clearing a jam in one machine when their skills would be better used operating another. Workers may be “off-task” for a variety of reasons, including not following procedures or not being trained to follow procedures adequately.

Using data, observations, and employee involvement, you can evaluate and minimize non-utilization waste.

5. Transport Waste

Transport waste refers to the unnecessary transportation or relocation of materials, tools, and/or employees in a facility, and can vary in scale from transport in an individual workstation to transport across a factory floor. 

Quite simply, excessive transport must be minimized or eliminated. Small amounts of transport are always inevitable, but there are also always areas for improvement. Consider designing shorter travel distances for employees or arranging tools and materials more efficiently within the facility. 

6. Inventory Waste

Excess inventory is created when a factory invests capital by producing more product than is ordered, with the anticipation of selling it later. In addition to tying up precious capital, excess inventory takes up space in a facility, and it can either be damaged or become obsolete while in storage, rendering it useless. This kind of waste is particularly problematic in food manufacturing, because food can spoil during storage.

The solution to reducing inventory waste is to balance production against customer demand to reduce excess inventory. Producing only the products that were ordered helps minimize the chance of companies wasting money producing unusable products. 

Just-in-Time is a system which helps to manage inventory waste by “pulling” inventory as it’s needed through the manufacturing system rather than “pushing” inventory through, which can lead to pileups. Just-in-Time inventory management can be facilitated by implementing Kanban signs to keep track of inventory through the process.

7. Motion Waste 

Excessive motion wastes time, wears down employees and machines, and doesn’t add value. If employees repeat excessive motion—particularly non-ergonomic motion—they may eventually injure themselves, leading to downtime and potentially to lawsuits. Motion waste by employees include unnecessary reaches, grasps, and pick-ups. Eliminating this non-value-added movement is therefore imperative to saving the company money and increasing efficiency. 

Companies that have strong employee involvement programs find it easier to identify and eliminate motion waste. You can find additional resources on using Industry 4.0 technologies (such as Worximity) to improve your employee involvement systems below:

8. Excess Processing Waste

Excess processing is defined as steps that do not add value to the product being produced. An example includes double-checking the quality of a product when a single check will suffice. Eliminating production steps that don’t add value will minimize excess processing waste. 

How Can You Accelerate the Reduction of Lean Manufacturing Waste?

Bridging the data gap is the first step in implementing lean manufacturing principles, including tackling lean manufacturing waste. Many manufacturing firms have yet to implement Smart Factory analytics tools like Worximity that provide the baseline data needed to identify areas of weakness and evaluate process improvements. With accurate baseline data, as each type of waste described above is addressed, real-time analytics will quickly validate the production system modifications made or will point the way to alternate improvements that can yield better results. Tools like Worximity accelerate the waste reduction process by empowering decision makers at all levels of the organization to make faster, more informed decisions.

Getting accurate baseline data has never been easier! Worximity is offering an OEE assessment program that is a low-friction, low-cost way to get started. Reach out to us today to get your OEE assessment going!

Receive a 30-day OEE Audit to measure downtime and throughput.

Worximity provides simple realtime technologies to solve food processor pains such as downtime, rejects, waste, overtime; helping them gain profit velocity by improving throughput, yield and OEE.

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