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How to Identify and Eliminate Common Sources of Waste in Manufacturing

To improve efficiency and decrease costs, lean manufacturing stresses the importance of eliminating waste and continual improvement. Waste is defined in lean manufacturing as any activity that doesn’t add value to the product, costs resources, and doesn’t benefit the business. Although these issues are typical in most manufacturing operations, understanding their causes and symptoms can make it easier to identify and eliminate each one.

1. Overproduction of Materials

Excessive production is the primary cause of waste in the manufacturing industry. When you produce more than you require, you generate waste, which may result in discarded or landfill-bound products. Overproduction typically occurs when you manufacture more goods than you need before you require them. This leads to bottlenecks, increased expenses, and additional forms of waste. Overproduction is not limited to producing too many goods; it also includes overproducing paperwork, meetings, reports, and packaging, all of which consume valuable resources.

2. Interruption to Rhythm

Though unplanned delays are quite common in manufacturing operations, waiting periods are a very expensive type of waste. In manufacturing, maintaining a steady pace is crucial to make sure that tools, materials, labor, and information are all readily available when needed. Any interruption in this flow can lead to unnecessary and costly delays. To prevent this issue, savvy lean manufacturers invest in systems and solutions like conveyors and FIFO racks to optimize flow and shorten waiting times.

3. Errors and Defects

Product defects and errors occur when customer requirements or design standards are not met. These defects can happen at any stage of production, from the use of raw materials to the final product. The costs related to defects can be significant, including loss of time, money, and materials, as well as customer dissatisfaction, which can harm a company’s reputation and decrease customer loyalty. To mitigate the impact of defects, manufacturers and warehouse managers must take proactive steps, like implementing error-proofing technology, to identify and address them.

4. Waste of Motion

Unnecessary movement of materials, machines, and personnel can lead to motion waste. For example, workers may need to move around the warehouse to find materials, machines may not be designed with ergonomics in mind, and layouts may not be efficient, requiring workers to travel more than necessary. These situations can increase costs and decrease efficiency.

To reduce motion waste, optimizing your workplace layout can help by decreasing the distance workers must travel to complete production tasks. You can also implement lean work processes, such as using ergonomic lifting carts and organizing items to make them easier to find.

5. Surplus of Inventory

In recent years, there have been supply chain disruptions that may tempt you to stock extra inventory as a precaution. However, doing so can hinder your efforts towards optimizing warehouse space and result in unnecessarily high storage costs. It also requires the allocation of more resources towards tracking, managing, and maintaining the excess inventory. To eliminate excess inventory, it’s wise to conduct a review of your inventory management and supply chain. Doing so can help eliminate any wastage in this area. 

Another effective tactic that enables you to further streamline your operations involves using custom flow racks for your business. Flow racks from Flexmation are designed to improve the material flow on your warehouse floor and can be customized with unique roller configurations. They are ESD-safe and can even be incorporated into a standalone or integrated workstation or workcell. With improved material flow comes better inventory management and, ultimately, less inventory surplus.  

The Key to Lean Manufacturing Starts with FlexMation

By understanding and eliminating the wastes listed above, you can create a more streamlined and efficient production process across your operation. If you’re ready to eliminate waste and streamline your facilities, FlexMation can help! Click here to learn more about FlexMation solutions for lean manufacturing, or contact us today to discover how we’re innovating lean manufacturing.

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