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Learning to see waste – Lean concepts for a competitive advantage

Guest Blog by Howard Wilcox

Being successful in business requires you to outperform your competition.  Focusing on operational activities using Lean concepts can give a competitive advantage.  I have seen recruitment times slashed from 6 to 3 weeks, improvements in on-time deliveries for an offsite manufacturing company from 72% to 98% and an invoicing process lead time reduced from 8 to 3 days, to name but a few.

One of the first steps in applying Lean concepts on a path to operational excellence is identifying and eliminating waste.  Learning to identify and remove the waste in your operational activities has repeatedly proven to give tangible results, and is core to our approach.

Waste can be categorised into 8 areas – we teach the TIMWOODS acronym.

Transportation, the unnecessary movement of products, materials, people and information.

Inventory, the excess of products, information and materials not being processed.

Movement,  the unnecessary movement of people.

Waiting, the dawdle for the next step of the process.

Over Production, preparing or making more than is needed or before it is needed.

Over Processing, more work or more steps in a process than is required.

Defects, the effort caused by rework, scrap and incorrect information.

Skills, the under utilization of people’s skills, knowledge and creativity.

We find that sharing our own insights with plenty of real life examples, it brings to life all those niggling tasks that frustrate staff on a daily basis.  The perfect starting point to seeing the waste in your business.

To address a possible misconception, the Lean concepts are not just about manufacturing processes, and they are not just applicable to large business.  Waste creeps in everywhere, usually with the best of intentions to meet customers needs.  But there has to be a balance, and there has to be value add for the business, otherwise how do you stay competitive?

Learning to identify the wastes is of course just the start of the journey.  It’s what you do next that can really pay dividends.

Contact us if you would like to learn more about Lean concepts and how you can add that competitive edge to your business.