Muda is the Japanese word for waste. Waste is plentiful in the manufacturing world, although much of it goes unnoticed, or at least unaddressed. If you're thinking of waste purely in a physical capacity, you're catching only a small glimpse of the bigger picture. Any process that costs money but does not add value can be classified as waste. You must identify and eliminate these wastes if you have hopes of achieving lean manufacturer status.
How to Eliminate the 7 Wastes
Understanding the 7 wastes of lean manufacturing is the easy part. Now you have to figure out how to get rid of them! Below are some tips for battling each type of muda.
- Synchronize processes (machine and human) as best as possible
- Increase reliability of processes
- Reduce down time by improving efficiency
- Balance supply and demand
- Produce per actual demand rather than forecasted sales
- Adopt Just-in-Time (JIT) manufacturing philosophy
- Develop a world-class quality assurance program
- Focus on preventing defects rather than resolving problems post-production
- Implement a poka-yoke ("mistake-proofing") system to reduce defective parts
- Decrease travel time between work stations
- Remove excessive or unnecessary machine movements/actions
- Clarify customers' standards and expectations ahead of time
- Only perform processes necessary to meet these standards and expectations
- Use appropriate processes (avoid overly complex machinery or processes if possible)
- Keep raw material and finished goods inventories as lean as possible
- Use Just-in-Time (JIT) inventory techniques
- Establish must-take terms for inventory customers to keep turns steady
- Utilize most efficient routes (most obvious route may not be most efficient)
- Stage processes as close together as possible and ensure layout is sensible
- Optimize material handling systems and consolidate storage areas
Eliminating waste is a process in itself. It won't happen with the snap of your fingers. Focus on how and where you can add value for your customers (rather than producing waste). This is a natural way to improve processes, reduce inefficiencies and get closer to becoming a truly lean manufacturer.