In order to detect waste in your workplace and eliminate it, the first thing to do is to understand exactly what a waste is and how it can be seen in your workplace.
So, a practical definition of waste is “anything that does not add value to the products or services that you offer or receive.” This definition can be taken as a starting point to begin to see what things are subtracting value from your products or services. In addition to that, another thing that must be borne in mind is that waste cannot be completely eliminated, however, it can be reduced to almost zero.
There are different methods based on the Lean and Six Sigma philosophy to identify and reduce waste very easily
Identify the eight types of wastes
Until a few years ago, the Lean Six Sigma philosophy only recognized seven types of waste. However, an eighth type of waste has been recently added. Each and every process that takes place within a company can generate both value and waste.
The first method that may help you identify, remember and reduce the eight types of waste you may find in the processes of your company is called TIMWOODS. Each letter that composes this word means a type of waste, as explained here:
Transport – Reduce movements of materials and persons so they are near each other. That way you will improve communication immediacy and transportation times.
Inventory (stock) – Overstocking your inventory may lead to a several loss in the return of your investments for many reasons. There’s a production philosophy titled “Just-in-time”, which is a customer-oriented systematization that delivers a service or a product exactly how the client requests.
Motion – It refers to the number of movements a staff member does to perform a task. To have everything in place, improve workplace comfort design and reduce unnecessary movements of business operations.
Waiting – Among the many things customers hate of a company is the excessive waiting time that a company may take to solve their issues. Speeding up your operations may lead to having a ton of satisfied customers in the short-term.
Overproduction – If you’re doing things too soon or making more than requested, then you’re overproducing. Limit your operations to just what the customer asks.
Overprocessing – It refers to those unnecessary steps that may be added to a process in order to achieve something. That causes the producers to take more time to process a task, and the customers to wait more for their solution. Have in mind that quality is more important than quantity. Use resources of appropriate capacity to achieve the required quality.
Defects – It has to do with the materials that were removed, the emendation of errors and reuse of work. Your main objective should be aiming to zero defects in your processes. Remember what we just said about quality.
Skills (unused) – Know your staff, take the time to explore their capacities and understand their ideas. Not using the full potential of staff by wasting their knowledge, experience and ideas may cause your company to get stuck.
There’s another acronym that can help you memorize the eight types of wastes. This one replaces O (overproduction) and S (skills) for an E (excess) and N (non-utilized talent), composing the word DOWNTIME.
No matter if it’s TIMWOODS or DOWNTIME, whatever of these acronyms will help you remember and identify the eight types of wastes in your company’s processes.
How to reduce wastes
Now that you know how wastes look like in a chain of processes, it’s time for you to examine your existing processes and detect the areas where wastes are a problem. Have in mind that wastes may have repercussions over your company’s financial health or customer’s satisfaction.
If a general examination is not enough to detect the root of the wastes, you can start by summoning your staff for departmental meetings. That may help you know your staff members expertise and also identify their areas of improvement. However, be careful not to turn the meeting into a blaming session.
Nowadays, there are some tools, inspired by Lean Six Sigma production philosophy, that help to monitor all the processes in a company. These tools are called Lean Six Sigma automations. One of the pioneers in these types of automations was HerkuLess, a tool that select, execute and monitor your projects on lead-time reduction and quality improvements.
Signing up for a Lean Six Sigma automation may save you the time you may invest in examining your processes one by one, and the money you could invest in hiring a specialist to perform this task. Watch a free demo to see the ins and outs of HerkuLess.