Kaizen: Focused On Reducing Waste

We are all familiarized with the term “Waste”. Probably, we all are able to recognize it in our workplace in the shape of printed paper, procrastination or waiting for hours to get the boss’ approval to do something. Waste is impossible to remove from our day to day activities, but as a business guru, David Kiger knows that waste can be reduced.

According to Kaizen, there is always room for improvement. Whether you are in the sports business or have a manufacturing company in any industry, there is always going to be room for your business to improve. One of the main things that allow you to be in the look of improvement is the will to reduce waste.

Related: How to use kaizen to save the planet

Kaizen is the philosophy of constant improvement and it has identified seven wastes inside organizations. Every single one of these wastes talks about regular practices and habits that are not helping organizations to grow. It is crucial for leaders inside any company to detect which of these wastes applies to its day to day activities and trust in Kaizen strategies to start solving each issue and contribute to the constant improvement of the company.

Let’s take a look to the seven wastes defines by the Kaizen philosophy:

Overproduction: making too much, too soon

Overproduction is probably the main cause of waste in most organizations. Commonly, people start to relate to it after it is defined and gradually starts to reduce it.

Every business needs to produce something and have it ready for when it is needed. Nevertheless, it often happens that members of an organization have it before it is needed and faster than is necessary. This supposes a waste of energy and effort to cover for something that can be done later, probably after other urgent things.

This type of waste usually leads to other wastes. Some good examples of it are printing unneeded copies, printing paperwork before it is completed, storing redundant copies in the filing system or copying emails to people that don’t need to be informed about a particular matter.

Over Processing: redundant steps and efforts

Overprocessing is common in the manufacturing industry where manual processes need to take place, like polishing something. Sometimes workers have a hard time seeing when something they are producing is completed and overdo it. A good example of this is when someone needs to send a piece to polish it. Due to the difficulty in determining if the piece is completed, the worker can spend unnecessary time working on it.

Other forms of overprocessing include excessive verifying and checking during the manufacturing process and the need to unpackage parts before installing them right in the production line.

Motion: unnecessary movement

Motion is probably the second most common cause of waste inside organizations. Having to move from one place to another in the plant or work area because the things you need are not at hand represents a major cause of waste.

Any unnecessary movement of workers is considered a waste. Whether you need to get a copy, search for a missing document, shift back and forth between desks and computer screens or leave your work area for any reason, you are for sure being part of waste caused by motion.

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Image courtesy of Damianos Chronakis at Flickr.com

Waiting: depending on external factors

Waiting means that you cannot complete a task unless somebody else does its job. This is caused by the lack of synchronization and when machines and/or people are idle. Sometimes you have to wait for your boss permission to do something, some other times it is related to bureaucracy, or maybe to your client. Regardless the person who is making you wait, waste is present.

Transportation: unnecessary movement of material

Movement is considered waste when it is not done when it should be done or is done more often that needed. The excessive hiring of transportation leads to a waste of resources such as gas and time. Distributing unnecessary materials or finished goods, or even extra copies of paperwork to those who don’t need it is considered waste.

Inventory: having more things than you need

Kaizen believes that keeping excessive levels of raw material and finished goods is a waste. Piling anything that is not immediately needed or buying stuff that is not required and storing them (office supplies, books, etc.) is a common type of waste within any organization.

It is better to have the money than having stuff that your organization doesn’t need.

Defect/rework: stepping back in the process

Manufacturing products with errors and defects lead to your customer’s dissatisfaction and waste. It is a rather expensive type of waste since you need to take a few steps backward and repeat the process all over again correcting everything that went wrong.

This waste is exceedingly common when data is not entry like it should have, or typing errors are made and passed downstream. In most cases, this waste could have been prevented.

* Featured Image courtesy of  Jellaluna at Flickr.com

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