Ensuring efficiency in your operation is a key challenge for any businesses. But get it right, says Business Growth Hub Manufacturing advisor Andy Hinton, and it can significantly improve productivity and, ultimately, your business’ bottom-line.
When I work with a manufacturer who is looking to increase the profitability of their operation, one of the first things we’ll look at is waste elimination. By this, I don’t mean looking at the best ways to dispose of materials, or cutting energy bills. The purpose of the exercise is to identify the wasted time and resources that can be eliminated from your processes to improve flow.
What is TIM WOODS?
The ‘eight wastes’ technique, or TIM WOODS, highlights areas of your business which may be wasteful and is a systematic way of categorising and identifying priorities for improvement.
By analysing these areas, you’ll start to identify opportunities to save time. And as you read through the descriptions below, make a note of any examples that you recognise in your own business.
Moving materials from one location to another may seem like an essential process for your business but it can waste labour time and present a risk of loss or damage. Excessive transportation could be caused by operational layout and storage, complex supply chains or batch sizing and overproduction.
If your business’s stock of raw materials, work-in-progress and finished goods are in excess of your actual requirements, this is an indication that your continuous flow process is not being achieved. In addition, this could be impacting on the speed of production, which is especially problematical when manufacturing bespoke products or perishables. The chances are some simple changes will make it possible to reduce all the money tied up in these areas, while also cutting warehousing costs.
The unnecessary movement of workers or tools is a waste of motion – especially if the equipment is heavy. The labour time saved here can really start to add up – you could reduce the distance between work stations, re-order them for faster access to tools, or even alter how your workforce handles equipment.
No one likes waiting, so wouldn’t it be brilliant to remove inefficiencies and save your workforce time, as well as improving their working experience on the shop floor. And remember, time can be wasted in the office too by things such as lengthy authorisation processes and slow equipment.
Generally considered to be anything in excess that doesn’t add value to the end product, such as duplicate or unnecessary operations or process steps. Very often this is simply down to a belief that “we’ve always done it this way.”
Simply put, are you making too much at the wrong time, with inventory piling up along the value stream? I’ve seen businesses compensate for maintenance problems or poor performing machinery by running huge batches, to mitigate production of poor or defect products. This can result in massive overproduction.
When items don’t work properly they clearly lead to waste. But defects can also happen in processes, such as building the wrong model or delivering a part to the wrong location. Correcting them saves time and money.
Failing to use the capabilities of your workforce, or take advantage of their knowledge and experience of processes, is a missed opportunity and could be resulting in poor deployment of your team and wasted time.
As you’ll see, a deficiency in one area can often trigger waste in other areas, which can further impede productivity.
I know my wastes – so now what?
The next step in the journey is to eliminate or reduce waste by implementing a continuous improvement plan.
It might be that you focus your attentions on one significant issue, or that there are a number of smaller issues which can be improved over a period of time.
One of the reasons that multinational manufacturers are successful is because they have developed a culture of continuous improvement. As well as benefiting the productivity of your operation, it can also represent a cultural shift that enables you and your workforce to operate in a blame-free culture that constantly strives to improve.
The opportunity for your business
When you really start to think about waste in your business, it’s crucial to be honest and record everything, even those things that you don’t think can be changed. TIM WOODS is one of the key principles of Lean Management and if you’re going to be successful implementing change, it’s essential to understand the flaws in your business which, understandably, can be extremely challenging for an owner and manager to do.
This is why the Business Growth Hub has a team of fully-funded manufacturing specialists who can come into your business and work with you to identify these issues. If you would like to arrange a time for me to work through this exercise with you, please get in touch – sometimes all that’s needed is a fresh pair of eyes.
Andy Hinton, Manufacturing Advisor
Andy is a highly skilled process improvement specialist with over 20 years’ experience as an Advisor for the manufacturing and engineering sector.
Previously of the Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS) Andy is a Lean Six Sigma practitioner who has helped increase productivity in hundreds of businesses. He is also highly knowledgeable on new product and process design, supporting businesses to embed cultural change or launch products to new markets.
Andy is also skilled at integrating digital technologies within operations and supporting businesses to capture and analyse data to influence decision making.
To view Andy's full profile including technical capabilities and industry experience, please click here.