An often used acronym for the 8 wastes of lean manufacturing is DOWNTIME which stands for: Defects, Overproduction, Waiting, Not utilising talent, Transportation, Inventory excess, Motion waste, Excess processing.
To optimize production processes and to remove the 8 wastes, lean manufacturing processes and lean manufacturing software can be used. One example of how to remove waste is the company Festool who deployed the lean manufacturing software WORKERBASE for an efficient shop-floor organization.
Defects are mistakes which need additional resources, time and money to remedy the situation. In manufacturing operations, defects may include broken components that need to be rebuilt. Complete elimination of all defects is not possible, but defects can be limited by applying stricter quality control and documentation procedures such as standard work instructions or checklists.
Root causes for defects usually include:
Overproduction typically occurs when workers continue to produce blindly, even if the output cannot be processed because receivers are not ready or do not need the output at the given point of time. The remedy to overproduction is better planning and work coordination.
The implementation of standard procedures for each process is needed. Bottlenecks in the process sequence should be removed and measures to improve the transparency of the entire production process should be implemented. Overproduction ties up a considerable amount of working capital and must not be accepted.
Root causes for overproduction usually include:
Waiting times happen whenever the work has to be interrupted. Reasons include but are not limited to missing materials, waiting for approval to proceed work or because of machine downtimes. Waiting times occur if workers have to wait until a bottleneck is removed. Providing better tools for communication is a means to remedy waiting times. This allows better coordination and more flexible operational processes, e.g. by allowing ad-hoc requests such as ad-hoc material replenishment or approval requests.
Root causes for waiting times can be:
Although this waste is not one of the original seven wastes of the Toyota Production System, not-utilising talent is increasingly being seen as waste today. Insufficiently used talents, abilities and knowledge of people has tremendous impact on any organisation. For manufacturing operations, great benefits can be reaped by including skilled workers and their improvements ideas at any level.
Not-utilizing talents directly impacts employee motivation and engagement. This has direct impact on productivity. Solutions for empowering the employees include to avoid micro-management, improve training and implement processes and tools for direct employee feedback, e.g. by collecting ideas for continuous improvement measures.
Not-utilizing talent typically occurs with:
Transportation waste arises when you move things from A to B. Transportation increases costs, needs time and may result in product damage. Transport waste can easily be reduced by reorganizing the physical layouts and process simplification. The goal should be a less frequent handling of products with the shortest possible distances between process steps.
Transportion waste is based on the following root causes:
Inventory excess waste happens when the supply exceeds the real customer demand.
Root causes include:
Motion waste results from movement that does not add value to the goods produced. The rearrangement of workstation layouts to reduce the distances has a huge impact on the reduction of motion waste. In addition, proper procedures for the sharing of tools and machines should be implemented. The usage of mobile devices for data collection and tasks fulfillment also decreases motion waste.
Root causes for motion waste include:
Excess processing happens when work processes are poorly designed or not documented properly. This results in inefficiencies such as multiple versions of the same task, e.g. several signatures, polishing components that do not require it, entering duplicated data or processing more goods than required. To overcome overprocessing, standardizing processes is key. This should include the reduction of unneeded process steps such as unnecessary documentation, approvals and meetings.
Root causes include:
The systematic elimination of the 8 wastes of lean results in increased productivity, faster processes, higher quality and lower costs. At the same time, employee engagement will rise. Typical Lean manufacturing approaches to reduce the 8 wastes of lean include Kanban, SMED, Kaizen, 5S, Standard Work etc.
In addition, the use of digital technologies such as wearable devices boosts the setup of procedures to reduce waste. The elimination of the 8 wastes of lean will be much easier when data about the entire production process is available and employees can engage with production data in real-time.
Using an industrial smartwatch allows exactly this: employees can collect data directly from the field e.g. by using app-based workflows. Access to kanban dashboards and the ability to alert operators on the wrist in real-time eases employee engagement. A solution such as the WORKERBASE industrial smartwatch is a lightweight wearable device. It allows the implementation of lean manufacturing tools for waste elimination in short time. For example, FESTOOL uses the WORKERBASE system to remove motion waste on the shop-floor. Operators can send requests from tablets to the smartwatch of their colleagues for timely and precise information. With such a solution, FESTOOL was able to get rid off traditional fixed Andon boards and introduced a mobile solution for real-time contextual information.
We propose a very pragmatic approach to come up with countermeasures to reduce the 8 wastes of lean. First step is to brainstorm a list of potential countermeasures, followed by the prioritisation and selection of measures to be implemented. We recommend to use digital tools to implement the measures efficiently.
The following is a non-comprehensive list of potential countermeasures to eliminate waste. We recommend to use this as a starting point and add appropriate measures as needed.
Standard work: Implement standard work instructions
Poka-Yoke: Design processes so they are less likely to produce defects
Jidoka: Foster the detection of abnormalities and immediate correction
Kanban: Implement a digital kanban system to organise your production process
Takt time: Match the rate of manufacturing to the rate of customer demand
SMED: Reduce setup times to allow the efficient production of smaller batches
Continuous flow: Design a continuous flow system and minimise buffers between steps in production
Standard work: Implement standard work instructions for a consistent work sequence
Standard work: Invite employees to provide feedback on standard-work instructions
Value stream mapping: Create a sequential flow from raw materials to finished goods
Continuous flow: Create digital material management solutions to ensure work-in-process (WIP) will not be placed into inventory
Just-in-time delivery: deliver materials only when they are needed, e.g. with digital kanban
Continuous flow: Reduce or eliminate buffers, e.g. by ad-hoc replenishment orders
5S: Ensure that work stations are well organised
Value stream mapping: Evaluate alternatives for tools and equipment to reduce motion, e.g. alternate arrangements, wearable devices, Andon system
Standard work: Document and work through standard-work instructions
Kaizen: Evaluate potential process changes to simplify manufacturing operations
It is crucial to not tackle all challenges at once. Instead, we recommend to start with one specific waste. Once the first measures have been implemented successfully, you can proceed to add further measures. To get the buy-in from all relevant people, please involve topic owners and key experts from early on. The team members for an improvement project should include people from the targeted improvement area, along with other stakeholders. This may include internal customers of the results.
We recommend to use digital tools to implement selected measures. A platform such as the WORKERBASE system allows to come up with customised apps very quickly. Apps to reduce waste can be configured in a web browser by combining different screen types. Please contact us to explore how to do that.