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A hidden manufacturing waste you may not know about

There are various lean manufacturing processes you can use to try and eliminate wastes from the organization and make it effective. Lean Six Sigma has become a popular option as it focuses on reducing waste but also improving efficiency. When you are working with lean manufacturing it's common to hear about the 7 wastes. These wastes must be eliminated from your organization in order for you to produce better products and provide better service to your customers.

Wastes are seen as things that do not add value to the product and to your company. Using lean manufacturing you will analyze the processes of your company to make sure your plant is interrelated and running smoothly.

Here are the 7 wastes you need to watch out for:

  1. Overproduction. This is when you are making too many products and you aren't generating the sales for it. Overproduction is a huge problem for many companies because they will manufacture the products and let them sit on their inventory shelves for months where it will gather dust and depreciate.

  2. Delay. This waste is when your employees or processes are stuck waiting. Are you waiting on a part to come in or raw goods for the employees to work with? Delays are a big waste to a manufacturing plant and they can be dangerous if you don't catch them.

  3. Transportation. This waste refers to moving your products from one location to another. It can cause delays based on the company you use or on the general traffic conditions.

  4. Over-processing. This is when your employees or machines are doing too much work for a single product. If they are spending too much time on a particular product, it is seem as a waste.

  5. Inventory. Inventory wastes money. The best lean manufacturing plants have found that making products to order saves a lot of time and money. Keep a very low inventory because the longer you have it, the faster it will depreciate and cause you to lose money.

  6. Motion. This refers to moving products more than you need to in order to get them out of your hands and into the hands of the customers.

  7. Defects. When you have product defects, you are wasting time and money. Defective products cause you to recycle them or sell them at a discounted rate to the customer. Depending upon the defect, you may need to do a product recall which damages your reputation and costs a lot of money.

These are the 7 wastes as defined by Toyota. Now what about the new 8th waste that many manufacturing plants may not be aware of? The 8th waste is underutilization of employees. You have talented people working for you, are you using them to the best of their abilities? Quite often talented employees get stuck in a job and stay there for many years without really contributing anything positive to the company. You need to continue working with your employees to try and inspire their creativity and to get the most out of them.

Sometimes employees may not have enough work, but they rarely tell their managers about it. This is also seen as the 8th waste as the employee is not providing the company with their highest level of performance. You must focus on your employee's skills and find new ways to strengthen their job so they have something to work harder for. They need challenges or perhaps new responsibilities. Employees that are not pushed and challenged can sometimes lead to other problems in the organization as their unhappy temperament can tear down other employees.

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