Honing in on 8 Wastes is a 4-part series to examine and elevate awareness of the 8 wastes in manufacturing (DOWNTIME), and tips for enabling your employees to see them too.

Eight Wastes, Part Two:

In lean manufacturing, the examples of ‘waiting’ for material shipments to arrive, equipment outages, or products stacked in the warehouse before shipment are obvious wastes. Not so obvious are when employees are waiting for the parts to perform their operation. This can be a sign of the production schedule out of alignment caused by equipment failure, long set-up times, employee(s) not available, or miscommunications about the next step in the process. Redesigning a production process to improve workflow, documenting standardized work instructions and creating checklists, ensuring adequate staffing, and routine equipment monitoring and maintenance are all considerations for the reduction of waiting.

The most valuable resource at your company is the people. The lean waste of non-utilized talent (also known as human potential) is possible across all levels of an organization and often stems from management not knowing or understanding the skills of each of their team members. This leads to employees not being utilized to their fullest capabilities, spending time on routine tasks that don’t add value, or not having the proper training for the skills they are lacking. During onboarding (and annually), evaluate your employees’ skills, interests, and capabilities- then develop an appropriate training plan. Ask them about their ambitions at the company. Create a culture where employees learn to see waste and also offer suggestions for improvements. Training and empowering your employees will not only improve productivity in the long run, but will also help reduce turnover with increased job satisfaction.


Click Here for Honing in on 8 Wastes: Part One


Learn more about NWIRC’s Lean Together, working group for operational excellence.