Gary Wickett – Chapter Fourteen

Gary Wickett

Are You Seeing All the Waste?


This chapter is for everyone and anyone responsible for eliminating process waste to improve bottom line results in their organization: from the senior executive all the way down to the line operator. It presents a structured approach to ensuring those involved with waste elimination projects are not overlooking many of the hidden wastes and the possible causes often ignored in today’s businesses. This method can be applied to any industry or business, including manufacturing, service, healthcare, back office and IT.

In today’s economy, stagnant wages and concerns over high unemployment have contributed to lower overall consumer spending – a heavy blow to every corporate bottom line. To remain competitive, companies are being forced to seek out ways to lower costs and provide higher quality and improved customer service. To do so, they must take an honest look at their processes and strip out all the waste. This chapter outlines an analytical approach that roots out the existence of all possible wastes and their likely causes to help you Lean out your processes.

This chapter will help you to:

  • Understand types of waste that exist in your process
  • Identify possible causes that contribute to waste
  • Learn to drill down to the true root cause of the waste
  • Provide a methodology to review types of waste and likely causes

A Review of the Eight Wastes

Since the dawn of Lean, there have been thousands of value stream mapping exercises and waste walks performed in all types of industries geared toward indentifying process waste. Are all the wastes during these activities being seen and captured? I can’t tell you the number of times I have returned with a team from a waste walk, value stream mapping exercise or a kaizen event and heard, “I missed that waste – nice catch.”

Waste, or the Japanese word muda, means: any activity that does not add value to the customer and is not needed to meet the customer’s requirements. The customer can be the external end user of the product or service, or an internal downstream recipient. Often, waste will be right in front of us and yet go undetected. We may not be familiar with the process and may interpret a particular waste as an integral part of the procedure, or we may be so familiar with it that waste is overlooked, ignored or assumed to be a normal part of the process. Many people observe and record only the obvious wastes in a process, such as those resulting in wait time, defects or inventory problems, and those more subtle wastes live on like parasites in our processes.

Toyota listed seven types of waste that can be present in any process.1 These are: Over-production, Waiting, Transportation, Processing itself (extra processing), Stocks (inventories), Motion (of people), and Defects. I have developed an eighth waste category from my own observations and experience: Neglected Resources (see below). The acronym DOWNTIME outlines these eight wastes.

Defects – creating product or information that does not meet customer expectations. It can manifest as a damaged or improperly functioning product, missing or inaccurate paperwork, poor quality, late deliveries, cost overruns, or rework.

Overproduction – converting material or information before it is needed by the end user or downstream customer. It applies to work-inprocess and finished goods.

Waiting – person or machine that is idle due to lack of information or material required to continue operation.

Neglected Resources – omitting, neglecting, ignoring or misusing the best resources available for the application at the time. This includes not using the best talent, equipment, machines or software available.

Transportation – unnecessary movement of product or information that does not add value to meet the customer’s requirements.

Inventory – raw material or initial information in a process queue. Inventory also applies to the initial job request or information source.

Motion – unnecessary movement by people that does not add value to meet the customer’s requirements. This includes reaching, bending, walking or any other unnecessary movements.

Extra Processing – producing and providing more features, information or work than what is required to meet the customer requirements and includes a poor or sloppy process design.

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