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The Seven Wasteful Sins of Lean Manufacturers

In today’s manufacturing world, less is more. Manufacturers are challenged to have less inventory, use less space, get the job done in less time, and produce products that cost less.

All while trying to respond to customer demand.

Most manufacturers are “lean thinkers,” meaning that they systematically search for ways to eliminate waste. Through continuous process improvement, they work to reduce costs and increase quality while improving the bottom line.

Some do a better job than others. If you find yourself among those with room for improvement, take a moment to consider these seven wasteful sins of lean manufacturers—and the commandments for avoiding them.

1 Thou shalt not produce more products than needed.

Manual processes or inefficient inventory control systems are usually behind poor forecasts. It’s not surprising, really.

The Seven Wasteful Sins of Lean Manufacturers

How can you eliminate waste in the warehouse?
Think like lean manufacturers who avoid the seven sins by eliminating wasteful processes that prevent optimal, efficient operations.

Without historical data—or immediate access to accurate records using mobile computers—manufacturers can misjudge demand and manufacture more products than needed.

What are the results of this overproduction nightmare? An excessive waste of time, money, and space—which are the deadliest sins of all.

2 Thou shalt not waste workers’ time.

Nobody likes to wait—especially on a production line. For every minute wasted waiting for one process to begin before the other finishes, the costs begin to climb…and climb…and climb!

Some experts believe that 99 percent of a product’s WIP (work in progress) time is actually spent waiting. Meanwhile, the expense pile continues to grow.

By improving the flow of operations so it is continuous and uninterrupted, you can smoothly sail through the production process. Not only will you reduce those unwanted expenses, you may find a few smiling faces at the end of the line.

3 Thou shalt stop unnecessarily transporting materials.

What if you could minimize—or even eliminate—wasteful transportation processes and systems?

Moving products between manufacturing processes adds no value. In fact, it’s expensive.  (Have you seen the price of fuel lately?)

It can also damage or deteriorate finished goods or materials used to make them. So, why incur the risk?

4 Thou shalt not work harder than necessary.

Ever heard the phrase, “Work smarter, not harder?”

When a plant is poorly laid out or overly elaborate and expensive equipment is installed, the focus can shift from eliminating waste to recouping costs or working faster. This unhealthy approach fuels ineffective decision-making, which leads to inappropriate processing and—frankly—more work.

The extra effort doesn’t have a payoff; there’s no value in “doing more” when the whole goal is “do less.”

Using the right technology, which is often simpler and more affordable, can actually improve processing and productivity. This—along with reducing steps wherever you can—is the mantra of lean manufacturers.

5 Thou shalt not hoard excess inventory.

When more parts are purchased than needed, overproduction occurs. This leads to large batch manufacturing or long cycle times for works in progress. Not only do costs increase, but there’s little room for the excess clutter.

Inefficient inventory management also generates longer lead times, additional floor space, high interest charges, more paperwork, and extra handling.

Do you think lean manufacturers absorb these extra costs?

6 Thou shalt not move more than required.

Go online or turn on the TV and you’ll see proponents of exercise everywhere. And while moving, bending, stretching, and walking are good for our bodies, they aren’t activities that are conducive to warehouse efficiency.

Think about it. When tools, parts, and fixtures aren’t organized well, are located in hard-to-reach places, and are not within easy reach, employees look like they are doing their morning workouts instead of efficiently building products.

So don’t automate unnecessary motions; instead, improve your operations by assessing your workplace to eliminate unwarranted movement.

7 Thou shalt not produce defective products.

Defective parts or products are deal changers. Not only do they cause rework and waste, they increase inspections and cause quarantines, which can significantly impact the bottom line.

Often manufacturers focus on improving processes for finding and repairing defects. But the real secret to eliminating defective parts and products for leaner manufacturing is to prevent them in the first place!

Want to wash away the sins of your manufacturing operations?

Contact System ID at 1.800.397.9783 and ask for a solutions consultant, who can help you streamline your operations and eliminate waste with the right barcode solution.

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Nicole Holcomb

Product Manager at System ID
Nicole Holcomb literally grew up around labels and printing. Putting that lifetime of knowledge to good use, Nicole helps customers solve the labeling needs of virtually any application in her role as Product Manager for Labels & Supplies at System ID. This creative problem solver unleashes her artistic side by creating customized clipboards and frames for her small craft business (while also daydreaming about being British, an obsession she’s had since her youth!).

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