Written by Jason Haines
Over the years many companies have started to eliminate wastes from their processes with a mixed bag of successful and unsuccessful attempts. Many times, the unsuccessful attempts have been due to the misunderstanding of how to eliminate wastes from the process the correct way. It is not typically that people do not know what waste is, but not understanding if the waste is eliminated what will affect the rest of the system. Yes, there are small wastes that can be eliminated right away, but we need to go in-depth on things that will affect more than just the immediate area.
These things that need a more in-depth look were usually put into place through methods of firefighting and band-aids because people didn’t have the time to find the real problem, so they put a quick fix for the interim. Over time the people have gotten used to these quick fixes and do not say anything about them due to problem blindness. Most of the time these fixes can be eliminated from a process, but a lot of times people do not realize they can be eliminated. That is where the elimination of TIM WOODS comes into effect and we can start studying how to eliminate the wastes.
Let’s try to figure out how to eliminate TIM WOODS from our facility.
Transportation is any unnecessary movement of products from one place to another within a facility. Transportation can cause companies great losses through lost product, late deliveries, movement of product to and from, damaged product, and extra space needed to store the inventory. Many companies have these issues and they can be very frustrating. One of the great ways to take care of your transportation issues is by Value Stream Mapping your processes to see where you can make improvements, combine and move departments, and build work cells that will create a better flow. C Tek can help any company with their transportation needs with the Single-Lane FIFO Racks. These racks save space and lower the amount of movement of the product in a facility.
Having inventory on hand can be very expensive to a company, but so can not having enough inventory on hand. A lot of times companies make the mistake when attempting lean of reducing their inventory without studying the effects it will have on the entire process. Yes, it saves money immediately by reducing the inventory, but it hurts over the long term because it causes other problems. The last company that I worked for made this mistake and reduced their inventory down to extreme levels that cost them in other areas. From late orders to workarounds that caused other issues in the value stream. When working on your inventory make sure you are working on the process to keep the correct amount of inventory in the process with Kanban or other lean inventory tools.
The next waste to eliminate in the eight deadly wastes is the waste of motion. This is an unnecessary movement of people and/or equipment in order to perform the jobs at hand. Lean is trying to reduce everything we do within our jobs and help everyone be able to pay more attention to what they are doing and come up with ideas. When companies eliminate motion, they want to make sure they can get machines and people closer together to make the product flow better. Two of the ultimate goals of Lean is to become a one-piece flow and to eliminate all inventory and eliminating motion waste gets your company one step closer to that. C Tek can help any operation in reducing their internal transportation by helping to design and develop work cells to help move work together and ease the movement of the product.
Waiting wastes can be felt in many areas of a company. Whether that be by the customer or the next process in line waiting can affect much of your facility if things aren’t taken care of in the process. Usually waiting is caused by imbalances in scheduling, inventory, or jobs. Most of the time we can take care of these imbalances by studying our processes and making the proper adjustments. This may come from moving equipment and departments around. Getting the process to flow better and keeping inventory in the right places. With C Tek’s starter kits your company can start building Kanban carts that fit your facility, plus C Tek offers free onsite training to show you how to use the kits.
Overproduction is the mother of all wastes because it creates all waste in a facility. A lot of times overproduction has just come from circumstances and the fact that leaders don’t always have time to look at the current situation of the processes. Another cause of overproduction is that workers are typically given a goal to hit at their machine or position with no real guidance on how to reach that goal, plus a lot of times things aren’t balanced out so one position has the potential to overrun another. When this happens, there is a high potential of creating defects, inventory, waiting, over-processing, motion, travel, and underutilized people. All these create frustrated employees.
Over-processing usually gets added into a system to control the system when mistakes have happened. Extra paperwork or checks slow down a process, but it slows down the process in the wrong way by adding extra steps. One of the goals of lean is to simplify the processes and lower the number of steps. It is not to add steps to the process. When we add extra steps or paperwork into a process employees have more of a chance to make mistakes and not catch errors or defective. Especially when we try to act as if this new check is more important than the process that was being done before. In order to avoid over-processing, we need to go to the Gemba and examine the process to see where mistakes may arise. Then make the necessary adjustments to help make the process better.
Our next to last waste of the TIM WOODS is defective. Defective is anything that needs either being done over or scrapped completely. Rework causes companies to have to go back and correct the mistake, and usually companies do not have time for this. Scrap is just a complete redo of the process plus discarding the material that was done wrong the first time. A lot of times people make the mistake of trying to correct rework with corrective actions or adding steps in processes to stop it. When really, we as leaders should be looking at the processes and seeing where these mistakes may have happened in the first place and going back and adjusting the process to help the employee.
The last, and most important of all the wastes, is the wastes of people’s skills in the workplace. When people are underutilized and not appreciated, they tend to get frustrated and either leave the company or just give up and do only the status quo. When this happens not only does the employee lose, but so does the company. We can spot this when people just do enough to get by, absenteeism goes up, and there is a high churn in employee turnover. We can help all of these by engaging our employees and Lean is the ultimate way to do this. It lowers the number of steps in processes, gives employees more time, and develops new skills for all employees. With this we can gain lifelong learning and employees at our businesses.
Always remember to value your people and they will value the company by providing more. One day these same people may be running the business.