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Waste in manufacturing is not just leftover metal shavings and wood dust – it’s also anything along the production process that costs unnecessary resources. These resources can be time, labor, or physical materials.

This is a broad category, and can cover anything from wages due to overstaffing shifts to an unnecessary amount of plastic casing for shipping. Because industrial waste can take many forms, manufacturers often refer to abstract systems of waste in order to define it.

The two major management systems about waste in manufacturing are TPS’ 3M categories and Lean’s DOWNTIME acronym.

Both can be referred to simultaneously, along with any other helpful frameworks for identifying and eliminating waste.

Key Takeaways

  • 2 major methodologies: TPS (3M) & Lean (DOWNTIME)

  • Waste is anything that doesn’t add value to final product

  • Goal of sustainable manufacturing is to reduce waste as much as possible

building blocks spelling the words muda, muri, mura

Waste According To The Toyota Production System

The TPS definition of waste is known as 3M, or the Japanese words Muda, Muri, and Mura. Manufacturing waste can be sorted into these three categories, as translated from Japanese:

  • Muda means wastefulness
  • Muri means being overburdened
  • Mura means unevenness

3 Examples of Waste According to TPS

  1. An example of muda is discarding scrap material that can be broken down and reused in other areas of production.
  2. An example of muri is overloading an industrial machine with as much input as possible so that it is always operating at peak capacity. This adds strenuous degradation. This is wasteful particularly when filling the machine only 80% full would result in similar output with fewer breakdowns.
  3. An example of mura is stopping and starting operating equipment for each iteration of a part in the production process. This unevenness will disrupt the natural flow of production and waste time with constant setup and takedown protocols.

Waste According To Lean Manufacturing

The definition of waste according to lean manufacturing principles is known as the 8 Wastes, or the acronym DOWNTIME.

  • Defects are a type of waste that is a physical or chemical product error, either due to human or machine setup error
  • Overproduction is when an excess of product is created or if a product is created too soon to be utilized in the next stage of production
  • Waiting is a waste of time and resources because it is an interruption in smooth workflow and indicates that production isn’t designed optimally
  • Non-Utilized Talent can be wasteful because it is a misallocation of important knowledge-based resources that can be better deployed elsewhere
  • Transportation can be wasteful when supply and distribution routes are circuitous, or when inventory is spread unevenly throughout multiple shipments
  • Inventory waste is anything that is stored indefinitely “just in case,” thus costing the company rent for storage space
  • Motion waste occurs when there is additional movement from employees or materials being shuffled from station to station, which can cause bottlenecks
  • Extra Processing is wasteful when it goes beyond the necessary quality and safety checks, adding more time, manpower, and machine labor costs to the final product
diagram showing the 8 wastes of lean

8 Examples of Waste According to DOWNTIME

  1. An example of defect waste is a product that fails size requirements due to a machine calibration error, so the product no longer fits in the standard packaging.
  2. An example of overproduction waste is rushing a bulk order of widgets in anticipation of a surge in demand (without verifying the demand with prediction models)
  3. An example of waiting as waste is when an assembly team needs to switch workstations but have to stand by while the previous team cleans up the area and re-sets machines
  4. An example of non-utilized talent waste is scheduling a skilled welder to drive the forklift because he is the only one with a license (Hint: the better option would be to train a lower-skilled employee to drive so the welder can go back to doing higher-value work)
  5. An example of transportation waste is buying raw materials from across the country, processing them, and then shipping them back to the source for further processing
  6. An example of inventory waste is last year’s product model taking up half of all storage shelves for over a year “just in case” there is a recall for the current model
  7. An example of motion as waste is when an employee can’t find a wrench needed for a task and has to scour the shop floor for the right one
  8. An example of extra processing waste is manual data entry or paper books of best practices when automated, digital systems are faster and more accurate

Dealing with Waste: What’s the End Goal?

Unfortunately, waste management in industrial operations is a continuous process. This is because ideally, a factory is a system with constant flow towards quality output. In manufacturing, you can’t make something from nothing; there are always byproducts.

Manufacturers can increase profits and decrease carbon offsets by targeting these unique types of waste. The result is a leaner, greener, more efficient production line that benefits everyone – stakeholders, workers, and customers alike.

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