You Are Never Done Eliminating Waste

Manufacturers must drive out waste wherever it is encountered in order to remain competitive. The good news is that many companies have made remarkable progress in identifying and eliminating waste. The bad news is that there is always more to be done.


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To drive out waste, we must look at the entire organization, from receiving orders to delivering them to customers. We must understand the value generated by each area of the organization, along with any waste that might occur in trying to generate that value. The following is a list of major categories of waste and real-world examples to help your waste-reduction effort.
Overproduction—making more than you need, or making what you need too soon.
• Printing and delivering future orders to the shop.
• Making too many copies of documents.
• Allocating too much material to a job.
• Pulling an entire box of tool inserts from inventory when only one insert is needed.
• Over-running the order quantity on a job.
• Releasing jobs to the shop “short.”
Excess Inventory—having too much of anything.
• Ordering more supply items than can be consumed in a reasonable amount of time.
• Having no inventory obsolescence policy to remove items that will not be used or sold.
• Storing tools where they are not used.
• Making large piles of corrugated materials.
• Filling drawers with unused documents.
Over-Processing—doing more to an item than is needed by the internal customer (next step in the process) or external customer.
• Waiting for redundant approvals to get things started.
• Packing parts in a complex manner for in-plant transit or storage.
• Holding unnecessarily close machining tolerances.
• Exceeding functional or aesthetic coating/finish requirements.
• Processing the same information both manually and electronically.
• Dry-running CNC jobs that repeat regularly.
Waiting—losing time because something did not happen as planned.
• Delivering material late.
• Receiving paperwork or information late.
• Receiving approval in an untimely manner.
• Letting the machine sit idle pending first-piece inspection approval.
• Letting the machine sit idle during unplanned downtime.
• Rescheduling downstream because of upstream processing delays.
Motion—moving to get something needed to complete a task.
• Walking to office equipment, such as copy machine, scanner or fax.
• Walking to central file storage to retrieve documents.
• Getting forms from a supply cabinet.
• Going to the tool crib.
• Getting job paperwork from an office.
• Walking to other departments to get needed information about a job.
Defects—processing anything incorrectly.
• Making mistakes in CNC program.
• Missing sales order information.
• Missing or incorrect production-order information.
• Pulling the wrong material from stock.
• Storing an item in the wrong place in the stockroom/warehouse.
• Machining the part incorrectly.
Transportation—moving items from one area to another.
• Carrying production orders from the office to manufacturing.
• Delivering raw material from the stockroom to the machine.
• Moving work-in-process from one department to another to continue or finish processing.
• Moving finished goods to the warehouse or shipping area.
• Delivering a fixture from the tool room to the production equipment.
• Picking up supplies from a local distributor.
Under-Utilized People—not using the knowledge and skills of employees to the fullest.
• Limiting decision-making authority.
• Lacking cross-training.
• Limiting the scope of functional responsibilities.
• Piling up work in areas in which employees are absent or on vacation.
• Using a large number of overly simplified sequential processing steps.
• Designating no backups for management personnel.

Perhaps the effort to eliminate all waste is never done, but the waste you do uncover in your organization will provide opportunities for victories along the way.