Seeing waste in the manufacturing process can be as simple as observing the process. Spaghetti diagrams and value stream mapping help employees identify the waste. When it comes to business processes, especially those that are executed less frequently, identifying the waste is more challenging. Waste buried in transactional processes still impacts the bottom line and should be sought after and eliminated, as it does in physical manufacturing. The easiest way to identify where to start is to ask, "What event or process causes you the most frustration?"
In my discussions with people in manufacturing areas, one process that stands out is the manufacturing qualification process. In the transportation industry, this process is commonly called the Production Part Approval Process (PPAP). Some customers simply require a First Article Inspection (FAI) to prove that the manufacturing process can create the intended part. In the PPAP and FAI processes, extra documents and process steps are required above and beyond normal production. When I ask people how this process goes for them, I am met with rolling eyes and heavy sighs.
Here are some examples of waste that may be lurking the PPAP or FAI process that may be the root cause of the frustration:
1) Motion - excess people movement. Traveling to the floor to check on a status of a part or to talk to your quality department is a waste in the PPAP process. While getting 10,000 steps a day may be good for your health, the extra time it takes to walk to find answers is considered wasteful to the business. Any searching for the answers is additional motion waste
2) Extra-Processing - doing more work than required by the customer. Often different customers require different deliverables on a qualification project or PPAP. Any documentation created that the customer didn't require is extra-processing. One word of caution though, extra processing may be used as a corrective action to another process. While this is still a waste, don't break anything to remove it. Eliminate the root cause, too.
3) Transportation - movement without value. One common transportation waste in a transactional process is starting work and then stopping to do something else. Failure mode and effects analysis (FMEAs) and bubbling a drawing can take a bit of time to complete. If you start and have to finish it later, the process to get back to that spot is transportation waste.
4) Inventory - build up of PPAPs or FAIs in queue. It's a challenge to correlate physical inventory to a process or a transactional inventory. I like to think of transactional inventory as a record that is processed through a workflow. When there are virtual piles of these records in queue, that is considered waste. For example, if an engineer has a stack of drawings that need bubbled prints, the pile of drawings is identified as waste.
5) Unused Talent - waste of human potential. Do you have a rock star quality technician with career aspirations to move into management? Are they involved in the PPAP or FAI process yet? People with capability to do more than what's asked is a great example of the unused talent waste.
6) Over-Production - making parts before there is demand. Here's a scenario: you receive a quote and there is a high probability to win the order on a complex assembly. Knowing how important the assembly is and how complex the bill of material is, the team starts the PPAP documentation early. The customer decides to take the order elsewhere. Starting a process without customer demand is an example of over-production in a transactional world. While sometimes this risk can pay off, other times it results in wasted time and money.
7) Defects - product is not fit for use. Defective parts discovered in the PPAP or FAI is an easily discovered form of waste. Did you know that any rejected PPAP / FAI documentation from the customer is a defect of the process, and also considered a waste item?
8) Waiting - waiting for parts, equipment, people, or notifications. Waiting is the most common waste in a transactional process. The PPAP process in particular involves many people, sometimes third parts, material and customer acceptance. With so many variables contributing to completing the process, it is a challenge to streamline the process. All of the wait, whether in your control or not, is considered waste.
Have you bought a new car thinking that it was unique only to find out that they are everywhere, after you've made the purchase? That was me with blue Dodge Ram Trucks. I am hopeful that this list will be the same for identifying wastes for elimination. Sometimes simple awareness is enough to start seeing the waste throughout the process.
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