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Elimination of Waste in a Lean Manufacturing Environment

Many things can be done in a manufacturing enterprise in order to increase its performance. Special consideration should be given to the activities where the most benefit can be attained. The elimination of waste is the most important contributor to improvement in a lean manufacturing environment.

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The efforts for the elimination of waste begin on the manufacturing floor and include all areas of the enterprise all the way up to management. The whole organization plays a part in the continuous efforts to eliminate waste.

It is the responsibility of management to provide the proper training and tools so that all personnel can properly participate in these activities. Once the personnel is actively searching for and eliminating waste, proper care must be taken in order to not introduce new sources of waste into the system. One important aspect to consider in the elimination of waste is that waste must not be transferred to vendors, customers or another area within the enterprise. Vendors cannot be expected to bear the burden of improper methods of waste elimination without undesirable consequences and likely introduction of new wastes.

The transfer of waste to the customer is a dangerous and undesirable proposition since they are the reason the manufacturing enterprise exists in the first place. Working closely with the customer leads to a better understanding of their requirements and improved mutually beneficial processes or methods can be implemented. This allows the elimination of additional waste where the original demands of the customer may have forced areas within the manufacturing enterprise to contain waste. In order to truly remove waste it must be eliminated from the system entirely and not simply transferred within the system (Goldratt, 2004).

Waste exists in all areas of an organization. This is an important reason why successful efforts to eliminate it can have such a huge impact on the organization’s performance. Tools such as 5S programs, Standard Operating Procedures, total productive maintenance, or visual management tools and techniques can be implemented to aid in such efforts (NWLEAN, Inc. , 2013). According to Lean principles there are eight major areas of waste. They are referred to as the Eight Deadly Wastes: 1. Overproduction – Making or doing more than is required or earlier than needed. This waste can tie up significant working capital that could be sed for other purposes. 2. Waiting – For information, materials, people, maintenance, etc.

An organization must look to eliminate or minimize any wait-times by ensuring that items arrive only when they are truly needed. 3. Transport – Moving people or goods around or between sites. Although some is necessary, this is potentially a huge waste with poorly planned distances or number of moves. 4. Poor process design – Too many/few steps, non-standardization, inspection rather than prevention, etc. An organization should strive to eliminate any non-value adding activities within the process. 5. Inventory – Work-in-progress, papers, electronic files, etc. An understanding is needed of how long it takes to replenish each item in order to truly reflect the real customer demand and not mask waste such as excessive queue times, unbalanced workloads, unreliable suppliers, or misunderstood customer needs. 6. Motion – Inefficient layouts, unplanned downtime, poor ergonomics in offices, etc. If there is any type of unnecessary movement of people or machines then there is motion waste. 7. Defects – Errors, scrap, rework, non-conformance; poor quality controls, process documentation or machine capabilities, etc.

Strive to eliminate all causes of defects through mistake proofing and statistical methods of process control. 8. Personnel resources and creativity – This is the waste of not using people’s mental, creative, and physical abilities. Everyone can be a successful contributor toward the organization’s goal and elimination of waste. Availability of appropriate resource levels at all times can be achieved through good communications, teamwork, proper training, and by avoiding over-skilled personnel to be used for mundane tasks (Juran Institute, Inc. 2013). In-line with Mr. Pareto’s famous rule, 80% of the benefits during the implementation of lean principles exist in the elimination of waste. Many tools exist in order to achieve and maintain meaningful results. It is with the proper implementation of these tools that successful elimination of waste can be achieved. Some tools will have more impact than others depending on the organization so careful planning and implementation is needed in order to achieve real improvements with the best possible benefits.

Works Cited
Goldratt, E. M. (2004). The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement. Great
Barrington, MA: The North River Press Publishing Corp. Juran Institute, Inc. (2013). Retrieved Jul. 11, 2013, from Juran: http://www.juran.com/ NWLEAN, Inc. (2013). Retrieved Jul. 10, 2013, from The Northwest Lean Networks: http://nwlean.net/