Tool of the Week Today we’re talking about how to eliminate waste from an operation. Specifically, we’re diving in Lean and Taichii Ohno’s Seven Deadly Wastes. Built on the foundations of Toyota Production Systems (TPS), Lean is the more broadly applicable practice of removing waste from a system. The term lean was coined in a 1988 article titled Triumph of the Lean Production System, written by John Krafcik. Lean, being a reference to having no fat, or nothing extra, is a methodology that aims to improve the output of a process by removing waste (or muda, in Japanese). In the context of lean, waste is defined as anything that consumes resources but does not contribute to value. Some examples of waste are correcting mistakes, waiting, tossing defective products, and unnecessary movement. Lean can be applied to an entire organization whereby certain departments are scrutinized for waste, it can be applied to product lines where the process for making the item gets simplified, or it can be applied to individual workers and their tasks. Lean was more formally defined in 1990 by James Womack and Daniel Jones as,
“…a way to do more and more with less and less – less human effort, less equipment, less time, and less space – while coming closer and closer to providing customers exactly what they want.”
Minimizing and eliminating non-value added activity is the primary focus of Lean. Like TPS, there are guiding principles to Lean. The five primary Lean principles;
Value- Define what the customer wants
Value Stream- Identify where the value is added, challenge all process steps that do not add value
Flow- The product should flow continuously through all steps
Pull- subsequent steps should pull products from the preceding one
Perfection- Management’s goal is to minimize the time and resources required to make what the customer desires
One of the primary distinctions between TPS and Lean is that any organization can become Lean- no other organization can become Toyota. Becoming a Lean organization, though, is not an overnight process. Truly becoming Lean takes 3-5 years, and will inevitably cause many headaches along the way. Lean transformations take time because everyone in the organization needs to be educated on what it means to be Lean, small projects need to happen and the results noted, a change agent needs to drive the projects, workers might need to be shuffled around or placed in new departments, and eventually a full time Lean position will need to be filled. Furthermore, there will be shakeups and regroupings of activities which will take time to adjust to. What’s the point then?
Becoming a Lean organization has a few benefits. Lowered costs, higher quality, better customer service, and more resiliency. The lowered costs come by way of no longer producing anything that is unnecessary, thus no capital stays tied up in nonessential parts. Higher quality comes from the continuous focus on defining value through the eyes of the customer, and making adjustments to the product or service in response. The downstream effect of higher quality will be more satisfied customers as well. Lastly, Lean organizations that take seriously their commitment to long term thinking and continuous improvement tend to brace themselves for economic issues that may cause slow downs in their sales. Being prepared, either with cash on hand, a robust product capability, or a highly valued product or service with inelastic demand will increase a businesses chances of surviving unforeseen issues (obviously there are no guarantees, though).
Another significant contribution to Industrial Engineering from Taiichi Ohno was the seven deadly wastes. The areas of a business that create the most waste- not just physical garbage, but waste in the broader sense of taking up resources while adding no value. When it’s time to increase margins, lower costs, remove unnecessary steps, or take on any project aimed at making a business better, these are often the best starting sources.
Overproduction- Producing more than is needed or can be handled by downstream processes
Inventory- Similar to above, producing more than is necessary only to have it sit on shelves, unused. Excess inventory ties up cash, hides defects, and runs the risk of becoming obsolete
Waiting- Exactly what it sounds like. If items or information get stuck in a bottleneck, they create waste. When a person or machine has items stuck in the backlog, just waiting to be worked on, there is waste
Motion- Specifically, unnecessary motion. Moving items from storage to one machine back to storage then to another machine, etc. Information and products alike should flow seamlessly from inception to customer
Transportation- Movement outside the production facility. Think of a product going from the manufacturing plant to regional distribution plant to local distribution center, then to a users house. Keeping the supply chain in check and delivery direct (when possible) is a key to minimizing waste. (Transport cannot go to zero- there will always be some. Minimizing it is key)
Rework- Fixing mistakes made the first time
Over processing- Adding unnecessary steps in the process, or taking on work that is not required.
Lean manufacturing, building on Ohno’s original wastes, defined seven additional sources of waste;
Waste of skills (wasted intellect)
Under utilizing capabilities
Delegating tasks with inadequate training
Metrics (measuring the wrong metrics)
Participation (too many people in meetings that don’t need to be there)
Computers (improper use of computers, software, or not using them properly)
So – there are plenty of ways to define waste. Knowing what to look for is half the battle when dealing with an improvement project. Go forth, and rid your job of waste!
Charity of the Week Charity Water is a fantastic organization to support. From their site – We work with local experts and community members to find the best sustainable solution in each place where we work, whether it’s a well, a piped system, a BioSand Filter, or a system for harvesting rainwater. And with every water point we fund, our partners coordinate sanitation and hygiene training, and establish a local Water Committee to help keep water flowing for years to come.
They put 100% of donations towards their relief effort, not taking any for overhead.
When charity: water began, we made a bold promise: 100% of public donations would go directly to fund clean water projects. We’d even pay back credit card fees, meaning if a donor gave $100 with a credit card and we got only $97, we’d make up the $3 and send the full $100 to provide clean water for people in need. Since we treat the clean water projects and operations sides of our business differently – separate purposes, separate fundraising goals, and separate bank accounts, we can guarantee that every public dollar donated helps bring clean water to people in need. And so far, more than 1 million people from 100+ countries have given in this way.
Why? 785 million people lack basic access to clean and safe drinking water. We’ve been on a mission to end the water crisis since 2006, and with the help of generous supporters like you, we’re getting closer every day.
2020 has certainly been a tough year. If you’re looking for ways to give back or donate to a good cause, this is certainly one of the best.
Tweet of the Week That giant grain silo will fly.
Article of the Week On Self-Respect, by Joan Didion. This article originally appeared in Vogue magazine in 1961. Yep. 60 years ago. The piece is a breeze to read, but some highlights below.
Innocence ends when one is stripped of the delusion that one likes oneself.
Most of our platitudes notwithstanding, self-deception remains the most difficult deception.
The dismal fact is that self-respect has nothing to do with the approval of others—who are, after all, deceived easily enough.
In brief, people with self-respect exhibit a certain toughness, a kind of moral nerve; they display what was once called character, a quality which, although approved in the abstract, sometimes loses ground to other, more instantly negotiable virtues.
Again, it is a question of recognizing that anything worth having has its price.
…self-respect is a discipline, a habit of mind that can never be faked but can be developed, trained, coaxed forth.
Without it, one eventually discovers the final turn of the screw: one runs away to find oneself, and finds no one at home
Podcast of the Week If you’re a connoisseur of podcasts, Sophia Bush’s Work in Progress is a great, long form interview show. Bush has a natural curiosity that leads to many thought provoking questions, and insightful answers from guests. Check out the Mary L Trump episode or the Zach Bush (no relation) episode.
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