Previously published in The Component Manufacturing Advertiser – November 2016
At its core, Lean means no waste. The original Lean (Six Sigma) concept defines 7 wastes (Muda) that exist in business. All process waste is categorized into one or more of these categories. The rules for these wastes apply in both manufacturing and non-manufacturing industries.
Defining and Identifying Waste
So what is the definition of “waste” we’re using here? It’s important to understand that our use of the term “waste” doesn’t mean “trash” that should be thrown out. Here waste is something which does not add any value for the product or process. In response, we need to alleviate and/or eliminate it. If there is any way to get rid of the waste, it should be done. If there seems to be no way to currently remove the waste, methods should be found to reduce the waste and eventually remove the waste altogether with creativity and technology.
The 8 Wastes of TIM WOODS
Over time, one additional item has been added to the waste bucket, so now there are 8 concepts recognized as waste categories. To help you remember them and find ways to apply this to your business, I wanted to find a fun way to introduce you to the concept. So I would like to introduce you to a friend of mine, TIM WOODS.
TIM WOODS is an acronym for the 8 deadly wastes: Transportation, Inventory, Motion, Waiting, Over-processing, Over-production, Defects, and Skills. Additional acronyms exist with slightly different connotations (such as DOWNTIME, which replaces “Skills” with “Non-utilized resources/talent” and “Over-processing” with “Excess processing”), but I prefer TIM WOODS. Its focus is eliminating the time waste to add value in the process and eliminating process time thereby reducing lead time. The 8 wastes are:
Any excess or unnecessary movement of materials or information is transportation waste. Examples include chasing parts, walking to the saw room, moving carts in and out of bays, and moving plates from one end of the building to the other. We can never fully eliminate transportation. But that person who’s transporting things could be adding value to the process in assembly or another area. Look to see where your employees are spending time walking when they should be in assembly or other functional areas.
Inventory waste can be in the form of piles of information, raw materials, work in process, and finished goods. It can be all of the parts we have, including people. Inventory is an asset we need in order to run the business, but we often get too much of that asset. Inventory is like a big, cozy blanket. When we see the cart piled up with lumber, we feel nice and cozy. “Man, look at that backlog. Look at all that great work we’ve got to do.” But who’s waiting on all that waste? Inventory makes us feel comfortable, but it’s a very expensive way to feel comfortable. Why is it waste? It ties up cash and space. It covers up problems.
Any movement or motion that does not add value is motion waste. Sometimes when we look at our operations, we really do not see this one because we overlook the obvious. We do not see the motions that our teams have “always” done but may not really be necessary to get the process or job done. Each extra step/motion we take should be evaluated. Is it necessary? Do we have to do that to get the truss through the roller? Every time we do it, we have motion waste, which is not adding value to the product.
One of the most frustrating forms of waste for employees is waiting. That involves waiting for lumber to the live deck, carts to be moved into position, pieces to be recut, etc. Look around and consider how many people at any one time are waiting for something. What are we not doing? Working. We take our minds off what we were working on and lose focus. Then we have to jump back to it. Every time you open up another thing to work on, the amount of work you have to manage every day continues to grow—all because I had to wait. Waiting becomes frustrating.
Doing more than is needed is over-processing waste. This also is part of waiting. Because we’re waiting, we over-process and open up another job. It can be over building just because you were trying to get your pieces per hour out of a machine or making sure you worked employees a full shift. If you’ve got all of these half-built tasks sitting in the yard, then you’ve got to get back to that definition of value.
Doing more than is necessary to meet customer demand is over-production. This can also be described as “make work.” The industry is taking off right now and people are finding a boom in what’s going on around them. To get more done, we feel like we need to put more into the system. But, you end up putting significantly more in than what comes out. We didn’t solve any problems that we needed to solve. Now we’ve got more costs and people and time tied up, all because we wanted to get more out of the system. Giving little thought to a comprehensive schedule will create this waste.
Any mistakes or errors in the business fall into the category of defect waste. Defects are around us every day. Ask yourself these questions: What happened? How did that happen? What are we going to do to fix it? Defects in the production chain have a sort of ripple effect that can quickly cause bigger problems than simply one item being unusable.
Under utilizing capabilities and/or delegating tasks with inadequate training creates significant waste of skills. Most companies now realize that their biggest assets are their employees. The employees of a company can make or break it. So why not make the most out of them and get the best utilization out of them? Some of the most successful companies today have been started by previous employees whose ideas were rejected at their place of work.
Good-bye to TIM WOODS, Hello to Lean
While every Lean waste has its own challenges, understanding the 8 wastes allows you to be able to identify the process waste. If you can see it, you can eliminate it! Managing your waste will increase your efficiency, productivity, and profit levels. Excellent planning and predictive models, top tier organizational skills, and adaptability will adequately address the vast majority of TIM WOODS challenges that arise.
I’ll return to many of these focal points in future articles, so keep a look out for TIM WOODS. Examining your current processes is the only way to begin improving them. Over the past six years, I’ve worked with numerous component companies and trained them on how to identify and solve these waste issues, so if you need help, please give me a call.
Ben Hershey is the CEO of 4Ward Consulting Group, LLC, the leading provider of Lean Management and Manufacturing Consulting to the Structural Component and Lumber Industry. A Past President of SBCA, he has owned and managed several manufacturing and distribution companies and is Six Sigma Black Belt Certified. You can reach Ben at ben@4WardConsult.com or 623-512-6770.