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Lean Manufacturing Elimination of Waste


The Most Prevalent Type of Organizational Waste

Dear Sirs,
My name is [omitted]. Being a Lean Manufacturing Project Manager I am familiar with the types of waste we seek to eliminate in manufacturing but am curious. In your opinion or through research what do you feel is the most prevalent type of waste? Would it be scrap/defects, transportation, overproduction, motion, waiting, inventory, or process? I tend to see that inventory is our most consistent waste.

Anonymous Submission March, 2006: Posted with consent

Untapped Human Potential

Thank you very much for the question. Of course each case is different, but we typically identify all of the types of waste you mentioned above. One thing that many organizations overlook when identifying waste is inspection. Inspection, reconciliation, rework...all of these are costly forms of waste, however, there is another type of waste which we find is always a problem. Underutilized Human Potential is a problem in every organization we visit.

Some firms state that untapped human potential is not a form of waste because it there is no cost associated with it. Considering the fact that, on average, 80% of the improvement ideas come from the employees, if you are not fully utilizing the potential of your workforce you are losing potential profit every single hour. We do need the highly skilled personnel to help eliminate waste, but who is it that will generate the ideas that keep us moving toward becoming a lean enterprise? The workforce is our most valuable resource.

When we begin a lean implementation project we do identify numerous opportunities and help develop a strategy and goals, but we involve the associates from day one. You would be amazed at how creative and helpful your employees will be. For example, if we find the travel distance of a part to be excessive or scrap rates to be high we put together a cross-functional team, including associates that work in that area. We ask questions. How can we reduce the travel distance of this part? How can we reduce defects? We do guide them in the direction we wish to go. We may suggest something such as cellular manufacturing or error-proofing devices and statistical quality control, but the employees find a way to make it work. They generate the ideas once we clarify the root cause and the goals of the project. I could give numerous examples, all of which show how empowerment and involvement help organizations realize their full potential. Once the door is opened for the employees to explore their potential the organizations potential is realized as well.

Thanks for the question. If you require assistance please contact us.



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