Lean manufacturing is all about rooting out and replacing wasteful methods, processes and products.
Once the waste is found, the company’s work goes beyond elimination to finding ways to prevent the
waste from occurring again. Value-added calculations are also considered along with wastefulness.
Companies can look in the usual places to find waste to eliminate. This includes the actual waste
or trash, electrical usage, weatherization and more. However, that still leaves several areas and
opportunities for getting the most out of a lean manufacturing experience.
Rework, Repair, Replace
One easily overlooked area is in the machinery found throughout the plant. Some may be working
well past their prime and others may be relatively new, but inefficient for the job. These machines cause
waste in time and production. They also tend to take more energy to use and more space
on the plant floor, as newer and more environmentally friendly models are smaller and more energy
efficient. Another problem is the production itself. Machines that are older and more inefficient also
tend to produce more defective products that must be reworked or tossed away. When considering
target areas for eliminating waste, look at the machine making the goods as well as the equipment used
to maintain them.
Raw Material Waste
Raw materials are wasted in a few ways in a plant. Many companies have found that the bulk of raw
material waste occurs during production. This area provides an opportunity for not only saving raw
materials, but converting them into reusable materials. The metal casting industry has devised ways to
recapture the molten metal lost during casting to use again in the process. The raw material recaptured
is better material than that recycled from used metal. Recapturing raw material wherever possible saves
money spent on materials.
Other areas to look for waste in a plant are in freight in and out, obsolete and even packaging excesses.
The spirit of lean manufacturing is finding anything that can be eliminated in part or as a whole in
order to boost production and savings. Along the way, many companies find that they also streamline
their assets, updating them as well. The environmental benefits are often a byproduct.
Eagle Technologies Group is an industry leader in the design and implementation of factory automation systems worldwide.