Types of Lean Waste and How to Eliminate Them Using Digital Manufacturing Software

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By Peggy Fonrose - January 13, 2022

Companies use lean manufacturing every day to work smarter, innovate faster, and deliver customer value, and it’s all about reducing waste. The needs for every product are unique, so you may wonder how it’s possible to eliminate waste in lean manufacturing. 

We’ll go through the process step by step, providing a robust background on what lean waste is plus actionable ideas to reduce or even eliminate each type of waste to improve your operations.

What Is Lean Waste?

We have the automobile industry to thank for the development of lean methodology—specifically lean waste. Toyota pioneered the Toyota Production System (TPS) with a focus on reducing several types of waste that hurt the manufacturing process and disappointed customers:

  • Defects waste

  • Overproduction waste

  • Waiting waste

  • Non-utilization waste

  • Transport waste

  • Inventory waste

  • Motion waste

  • Excess/overprocessing waste

These types of waste eventually helped shape a core piece of lean manufacturing as a whole.

DOWNTIME: Exploring Types of Lean Waste

The types of waste in lean manufacturing form a relevant acronym: DOWNTIME. Each type of waste has its own nuances and impacts different aspects of your operations. 

Defects Waste

When a manufactured product has flaws and needs to be replaced or reworked, you see defects waste. Going back to production means delays and added costs. Defects waste is often the result of a few missteps, such as machine set up, equipment machine defects, and poor maintenance. 

How to Combat Defects Waste

Fixing defects waste isn’t simple. Assess the situation and check core areas:

  • Check for “designed-in” defects

  • Examine standardized work plans and checklists

  • Make sure teams understand product requirements and schedule training as necessary

Overproduction Waste

When you manufacture something that can’t be used, you see overproduction waste. Overproduction waste emerges when factories don’t plan properly, such as when too much product is made for a given order or when manufacturers make products prematurely. 

How to Combat Overproduction Waste

Sometimes it’s counterproductive to have more than you need. Reducing overproduction waste requires a shift away from “just in case” manufacturing (overproducing) to “just in time” manufacturing (on demand). You can take a few other steps to streamline production, too:

  • Use TAKT time to even the rate of manufacturing time

  • Shorten setup times to reduce the size of production runs

  • Implement a pull system or Kanban system 

Waiting Waste

The lag time between each phase of manufacturing is called waiting waste. It happens for various reasons, such as production bottlenecks, equipment idling, long setup times, and employees waiting for materials. 

How to Combat Waiting Waste

Sometimes waiting is the hardest part of manufacturing because you want to see products through to completion. Luckily, you can cut down on the time between manufacturing steps. A few ways to eliminate waste in lean manufacturing:

  • Deploy continuous improvement strategies, such as reorganization, optimization, and process measurement 

  • Standardize team member instructions and training

  • Cross-train employees in various areas so they can be re-tasked to match demands

Non-Utilization Waste

Your workforce isn’t busy every moment of the day. When workers are idle because they’re waiting for the next manufacturing step or they don’t have enough to do, we see non-utilization waste. This might also happen when employees are distracted, when there are issues in your processes, or if management fails to involve team members in continuous improvement efforts.

How to Combat Non-Utilization Waste

Non-utilization waste is actually a cultural issue (and not part of the original Toyota model), so responding to it isn’t a mechanical process. When employees aren’t used fully, morale drops, they become disengaged, and your production quality suffers. Fix the culture and fix the problem. A few ideas to eliminate waste in lean manufacturing:

  • Communicate accurately to give people information they need to make good decisions 

  • Add Smart Factory analytics to gain new insights and improve decision-making

Transport Waste

When products meant to be used in manufacturing are moved or unnecessarily touched, we see transport waste. These items include tools, inventory, equipment, end products, and even employees required for production. Transport waste risks these things becoming damaged or lost.

How to Combat Transport Waste

Sometimes items need to move from point A to point B, which can be problematic if items aren’t where they need to be. To make things easier and more efficient, reduce transportation waste. A few ideas to eliminate waste in lean manufacturing:

  • Deploy a 5S strategy

  • Simplify your processes to minimize product handling

  • Shorten steps between manufacturing steps 

Inventory Waste

It is possible to be too good and too efficient. When you have excess inventory just waiting to be used, that’s called inventory waste. Inventory waste can include anything from raw materials and materials in production to finished products. Aside from over-efficiency, inventory waste comes as a result of problems like over-purchasing or overproducing parts. 

How to Combat Inventory Waste

With nowhere to go, inventory waste causes further problems by wasting space and failing to produce financial returns. But it is possible to reduce inventory waste by shifting your approach. A few ideas to eliminate waste in lean manufacturing: 

  • Get raw materials only when you need them and in required quantities 

  • Reduce buffer inventory 

  • Switch to pull or Kanban manufacturing

Motion Waste

We see motion waste when machinery and/or people are moving more than they need to because of manufacturing inefficiencies. This could be a result of a poor floor layout or even improper equipment, and examples range from stretching and bending to reaching and walking. 

How to Combat Motion Waste

When workers and machinery are doing too much, they experience significant wear and tear, impacting their productive time. But by taking a few steps, you can help each be more efficient. A few ideas to eliminate waste in lean manufacturing:

  • Adjust the floor layout so stations and equipment are closer together

  • Implement real-time Tile+ dashboards across devices for quick insights

Excess/Overprocessing Waste

Creating the best product for customers is essential to customer satisfaction. But when a product is made to exceed functionality requirements, it’s out of scope, and we see overprocessing waste. This might start during pre-production with overanalyzing the project or could be limited to over-engineering products. Overprocessing waste might happen when customer specifications aren’t clear, when products require rework to meet standards, or when manufacturing uses materials that exceed specifications.

How to Combat Overprocessing Waste

Your operations are complex, and you need to get a lot done without spending extra time or resources. Because overprocessing stems from a variety of causes on both the customer and internal sides, you may need to approach the issue from various angles to fix it. A few ways to eliminate waste in lean manufacturing:

  • Put yourself in the customer’s shoes to define specifications

  • Eliminate rework

  • Incorporate Smart Factory analytics with customized dashboards

How Do You Eliminate Waste in the Digital Factory?

In the digital factory, you put data-capture sensors on manufacturing equipment connected to software to gather performance insights. With manufacturing software solutions from Worximity, data is sent to the cloud, where it’s synthesized to show performance metrics:

  • Machine issues

  • Employee performance problems

These insights display on real-time Tile+ dashboards available on various devices across the facility. With this information, floor managers and employees alike can spot issues and take corrective action to support continuous improvement efforts.

  • Example: Without manufacturing software solutions, micro-stops are easily missed. Quickly discover equipment calibration issues or improper use by employees with data-driven insights.

Operational issues lead to manufacturing waste—especially motion and non-utilization waste—and negatively impact your OEE. With real-time dashboards, it’s easy to spot hangups and get back on track.

Eliminate Waste in Lean Manufacturing with Digital Tools from Worximity

Manufacturing waste can come from many sources and impact your daily operations. But with the right tools and strategies in place, it’s easy to implement a lean manufacturing strategy. By going lean, you’ll experience a safer and more efficient factory—complete with less waste—creating a more successful operation and boosting customer satisfaction. Worximity can help you get there. Download our E-book to go in-depth about lean manufacturing.

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