Unconventional tips for reducing waste in manufacturing

These days, the majority of businesses have adopted lean strategies to make their manufacturing processes more efficient. Most companies aim for improvement by addressing the seven wastes:  overprocessing, overproduction, inventory, motion, transportation, waiting and defects. Still, many discrete manufacturers don’t see the same waste reduction rates as Toyota, who laid the foundation for lean manufacturing decades ago with its Toyota Production System. The following additional tips will improve production and your company’s bottom line:

Avoid overproduction in all areas
The term overproduction is usually reduced to the concept of creating more product than you can sell. However, the idea can mean so much more for businesses. Overproduction includes buying equipment that is never used or only needed once, creating products or buying supplies before they’re necessary and building a certain product when it’s more beneficial to work on a different one. Companies can avoid overproduction with proper inventory control, efficient management and accurate timelines.

Take lean beyond the production process
Companies should strive to eliminate waste wherever possible, not just when building products. The concept can be applied to every aspect of the business, from accounting to payroll to training. While most of the manufacturing industry sees the benefits of lean manufacturing, many businesses don’t expand their methods into a companywide approach. Organizations should devise ways to streamline every process, not just the shop floor.

Use employee skills wisely
Though there are seven wastes, Practical Ecommerce noted many manufacturers and fulfillment centers have added employee utilization to the mix. Employees should be more than simply able to do their jobs. They must receive proper training when first hired, and also when the company adopts new techniques and software. Employees also need the tools to complete their assigned tasks. These tools are more than just computers and wrenches – employees need enough insight into the business to understand how crucial their role is.

Keep perspective
Businesses may focus on lean manufacturing as a way to increase profits, but they should never forget to make sure their customers are satisfied. This concept often gets lost as various departments try methods to improve their own processes irrespective of other divisions. Manufacturers need clear goals and initiatives to guide each and every employee and ensure everyone works as part of a cohesive team.

For more information on how your business can reduce waste and keep track of inventory, download the data sheet “DMS Physical Inventory Count Module.”

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