Manufacturing Waste: Creating an Action Plan
There are guiding principles in lean manufacturing that are designed to improve revenue through the reduction of waste. Waste affects the bottom line, but it’s become important in the larger environmental scope. Regulations and reputations are on the line as green manufacturing catches on. Those who choose to maintain dirty operations are increasingly finding themselves on the wrong side of history.
Competitive manufacturers are able to reduce lead times and provide a competitive service with less waste while remaining friendly to the environment.
Efficient Inventory Management
Controlling the materials being used in the manufacturing process and keeping the right amount of inventory (including raw materials, WIP, and finished goods) can reduce manufacturing waste, including the risk of loss, decay, and damage. Reduce the amount of excess raw materials in stock and the quantity of hazardous materials to bring down the amount of waste generated. Order only the quantity of any material needed for production and meeting customer demand for a specific period of time.
Avoid unnecessary purchases. Examine your previous sales data estimate how much you have to produce. Find out your best-selling products and those that are less profitable so that you can produce the right items this time.
Waste Reduction Audits
Audits provide valuable insights about equipment usage and potential improvements. Audits that target how equipment is used, for example, can catch increased wear on components already prone to breaking down. A.J. Weller Corporation manufactures “Green Steel” plating that is designed to reduce abrasion in commonly replaceable items like high-speed drills. Such plates extend the longevity of replaceable components, reducing costs year over year.
How employees use machinery also makes a difference. Ongoing training ensures everyone uses equipment properly. Deviating from recommended usage can cause machinery to work harder than intended, potentially exposing more fragile parts to greater wear. Employee turnaround can leave factories with a shortage of workers capable of operating heavy machinery properly. A bad year with high turnover can have a higher effect on productivity if machinery breaks down from improper usage.
Outside observers can provide honest assessments and ideas management had not considered. They may suggest improvements to the line or provide a full-scope audit that may not have been conducted in a timely manner. Any information about what’s happening on the floor can influence high-level thinking and lead to noticeable improvements.
Plan Production Properly
Every factory owner wants to reduce employee idle time, and some resort to cutting production hours. There are situations where a reduction in manpower is ideal, but idle time can lead to more productivity elsewhere. Engineers and line workers can be retrained as amateur techs to evaluate and maintain the line. Repurposing employees with a small bump in pay is often far less expensive than hiring a third party or a new full-time employee for a singular task.
Plan production around items that will sell as well. One of the simplest ways to accumulate waste is through underutilizing materials. This also applies to development, where too many features cloud the product’s purpose and complicate sales. Thinking lean means producing a product that fulfills a need while thinking granularly about the approach.
Reducing Lead Times
Simple adjustments on your end, including improvement to IT infrastructure, can affect the supply line and reduce lead times. Doing so helps you stay competitive and offer a better estimation of when the product might hit shelves.
There are certain ways to improve the efficiency of your own supply line as well, making you ready for anything. Regular orders, especially in bulk quantity, will make material suppliers more willing to work with you. You can also standardize certain components, which tends to work better if you work with the same vendors. Standardizing even something as small as a screw or an internal component can help improve the cost of development and turnaround speed.
Be sure to review payroll and transit costs as well. Much of the delay in supply lines come down to waiting on invoices. If you can find ways to streamline that process, you can save a great deal of time and provide faster service. That includes incentivizing your suppliers to deliver on time or ahead of schedule. A small bump in pay on your side may result in a much larger payoff for fulfilling the orders those materials will help build.
Identifying Major Waste Sources
Review your own supply chain to see what’s applicable to you. Pay careful attention to personnel, materials and transit costs.
Your personnel should be well trained and be operating at peak efficiency. Reduce workers as needed to accommodate the production schedule, and stay ready to hire seasonal help as needed. Recruiters can help find contract placements to fill those seasonal roles.
Regularly review vendors to ensure top quality materials are always procured at the lowest possible price. Some vendors reward loyalty, but commodities can be purchased from anyone. Go where the market dictates and hunt for the best possible price.
An underrated part of transit is how employees handle stock within the warehouse. Better inventory systems allow workers to locate and move stock faster. Speeding up the load speed of a truck gets it back on the road faster, improving lead times and providing a better overall service.
Maintain and Improve
Lubricants can save a factory line over time. Investing in lubricants keeps machinery running smoothly and avoids unnecessary wear on fragile parts. However, excess lubricant or grease can jam up machinery. There is a hidden benefit as well, which is routinely utilizing lube forces techs to constantly evaluate machinery for breakdowns or wear.
Teams that properly maintain machinery at regularly scheduled intervals are more likely to catch the source of a far more expensive problem before it grows out of control. Management should put into place a clear reporting structure for employees to utilize when something breaks down or is in danger of wear. Documenting existing problems is the first step in reducing the costs of major repairs.
Keep in mind that every piece of machinery will have its own maintenance schedule, with certain subsystems (such as power units) requiring a unique schedule. Also, be sure to run seal checks and stress tests on objects that will encounter high-powered torque. Testing new parts ensures that there are no costly malfunctions that hurt productivity and potentially harm employees.
It is always better if a problem can be avoided before it actually manifests. Manage your purchasing by focusing on products that are durable or reusable to prevent wastage. Start a more accountable purchasing system to ensure that unnecessary buys can be avoided.
Product packaging is necessary to make products attractive, but at the same time, it is also one of the major contributors to waste. As far as packaging is concerned, cut down packaging to only those that are absolutely necessary and also encourage your suppliers to consider the same thing while packaging products for you.
Redesign the product packaging to ensure it uses the minimum amount of materials. Use reusable and recyclable materials such as air packs or corn-based packing peanuts to provide cushioning and for starting a zero-waste lifestyle for product packaging. Also, try to reuse the cardboard boxes or leftover plastics that you use to pack your current products.
Recover, Reuse, Sort
Recover maximum possible waste from onsite and offsite locations by employing different techniques like electrolysis, filtration, reverse osmosis, centrifugation, etc.
Recycling is another popular choice for materials like paper, plastic, and metal regularly, and avoid recycling hazardous materials as it rarely has any environmental benefits. Industrial shredders are critical in this process as they can be used to reduce waste by condensing asphalt, wood, rubber, and plastics to a fraction of their original size.
Sorting the waste ensures that the recyclable items are getting to the right place. Assign someone the responsibility of monitoring the bins to find a viable solution for eliminating, reducing or reusing the generated waste. Waste in your business can be a resource for some other business. Exchange the generated waste through a waste exchange program with such businesses.
Preventive Maintenance is Best
A preventive maintenance schedule is a simple tool that is often overlooked. Wear and tear are normal in the manufacturing process, but regular maintenance is of utmost importance. Look at how you store your raw material. Keeping on hand only reasonable amounts of inventory, storing material close to its place of final use and ensuring things are stored according to recommended guidelines will go a long way in preventing spills and waste.
Recheck your systems and upgrade to smarter ones where possible. Keep an eye on your filtration, check for ease of cleaning according to recommended guidelines.
Manage Bins Better
Placing waste bins is one critical aspect of waste management within all business premises. Adding more recycling bins all around can be an easy way to reduce waste in manufacturing. If possible, put one recycling bin next to every trash can in the establishment.
Label the bins well that your staffs use the bins appropriately. Picture illustrations of examples of materials that go into either will also help make the message clearer. This is helpful for differentiation between recycling bins and trash cans. Consider putting up catchy signage that encourages recycling among your staff. The best place for such is near the recycling bins.
Minimize Water Usage
Reduce the use of water and other solvents. Industrial sludge and wastewater make up a significant portion of manufacturing waste streams. You can reduce these elements by minimizing water usage in the operations. This can be achieved by using chemical drying agents, reverse osmosis, dry machining, or membrane biological reactor. Further, monitor your use of water, and optimize your processes, so less is used.
Encourage employees to cut down on drinking bottled water as plastic drinking bottles constitute a major fraction of plastic waste generated and promote the use of reusable bottles or drinking in glasses in the workplace.
Factory downtime is cyclical and part of being a business owner. Learn how to make downtime matter by applying maintenance and smart planning to your factory floor and warehouse.
Also, don’t underestimate the value of communicating with suppliers. Regular check-ins help identify hangups and put pressure to fulfill in a timely manner. You can also create a better sales forecast for your vendors when they know more about your supplies and the best times to order.
Seek opportunities to maximize floor space and minimize non-productive downtime.
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