[This post has been amended]
One of things I haven’t ever itemized is waste. Taiichi Ohno (of Toyota) identified seven types of waste (muda). An eighth form of waste came from Womack and Jones. The eight forms of waste can be identified as:
2. Delay or waiting
3. Conveyance (moving things around)
4. Correction (defects)
8. Knowledge disconnection or underutilization of resources
By the way, I found a great little book on lean for beginners. It’s called Lean Production Simplified by Pascal Dennis. It is very plain speaking and assumes you know nothing. It’s simple without being simplistic. Now, back to defining muda (waste).
The waste of Motion
First you have to know there are 3 kinds of motion (I’m using the book I listed above as a checklist as I write). While not all kinds of motion are waste, some are.
1. Actual work is good. This is anything that adds value to the product such as sewing a seam.
2. Auxiliary work means work that supports actual work. This could mean separating two pieces from a bundle in order to join them.
3. Muda is motion that has creates no value. A great example of muda is basting a seam to set a zipper as it’s done in home sewing. The basting will be removed; it’s not adding value to the product. Some motion waste can be defined as ergonomics. If an operation creates a repetitive stress injury, this is waste.
The waste of Delay
You can usually spot this quickly because it means people are standing around waiting for something else to happen so they can do their part of the process. An example is not being able to sew while waiting for a mechanic to show up. Cutters waiting for the marker to arrive is another delay waste. While small delays may seem insignificant, they all add up.
The waste of Conveyance
The things needed to do the job are not at hand so you either have to go get them or take them to where they’re needed. Having to go and get them is delay by motion, both of which are waste themselves.
The waste of Correction (defects)
Do I really need to give an example of this? It always takes less time to make something right than it does to make it poorly and then correct it after the fact. The science to this is eliminating the mistakes that people constantly make. Poka yokes are essential for correction prevention.
The waste of Overprocessing
This is a particularly insidious form of waste because it causes you to examine which of your processes -or even product- are necessary. The basted zipper seam above is an example. Much of this waste is administrative, such as needing 8 signatures to sign off on something. Some overprocessing waste are features in a product that the customer does not care about (is not willing to pay for) but the company hasn’t figured that out.
The waste of Inventory
Boy, this is always a hard one for accountants or anyone who’s internalized the idea that inventory are assets. While inventory has value, it may not have the same value as it ages, particularly in our business. If your money’s tied up in inventory that’s less money you have to work with. The other day I’d mentioned product development (patterns and prototypes) were inventory if they’re batch produced in anticipation for market. In manufacturing, if you sell off your inputs inventory and excess styles, you’ll rarely get what you either paid for them or had anticipated getting for them…so how is this an asset? It’s waste.
The waste of Overproduction
This is another hairy topic. In general, people like excess stuff -just in case. Personally, I think we’re biologically hardwired to hoard. Farmers will overproduce, people overprocess with food and drink; I just don’t think we as a species are into moderation. Overproduction is a problem because you’ll need space to store WIP (work in process), you’ll need a storage unit at best. You’ll need people to move your stuff around (see conveyance-waste, motion-waste, inventory-waste, delay-waste). Unfortunately, much of our business is based on batch production which is over production. Ideally, you’d only produce the parts you’d need to make a given product after the order was received. This is easier to do with cars than corn. You can order one car and it’ll be made to order but you can’t order up one serving of corn. Some industries will have more overproduction waste than others. I believe apparel and agriculture are related in that some overproduction is unavoidable if nothing, due to batch processing.
The waste of Knowledge Disconnection/Underutilization of resources
This refers to the waste of administrative disconnectedness within a company and or its suppliers and customers. Such disconnections are barriers to creativity, innovation and knowledge which can create excess costs, missed opportunities and frustration. An example would be if a designer didn’t design a certain style or feature because she thought that her people wouldn’t know how to put it together. Designers do this all of the time! An example is a designer who -doesn’t sew well even if she thinks she does- doesn’t design a lined jacket with welt pockets because she thinks it’s too hard to sew. It’s easy to pick out these lines; they’re not finished professionally, not crisp and look simplistic rather than simple.
Anyway, these are the seven (+1) deadly sins of manufacturing and they’re all waste. Get the book I recommended. I think you’ll like it.
I am really excited that everyone seems to understand the connection to waste, resources and sustainability. In that vein, please see Chapter Seven (available free online) of Natural Capitalism. It’s one of the best written examples of waste vs sustainability etc. Very good, well written read. And it’s free!