Isolating Waste

World class organizations understand seeing waste is often the first step in eliminating it. However, seeing it does not necessarily mean it can easily be eliminated. In these instances, it is best to at least isolate it so everyone not only – CAN see it but – HAS to see it.

Isolate Waste so Everyone HAS to See it

A multinational company decided to install a new software program to manage trucking logistics. Originally sold as a simple solution to automatically assign carriers to completed loads, it turned into a mountain of extra work for the truck scheduling teams. The scheduling crew now had to make several manual transactions in order to allow the automated system to work.

The leaders of the teams highlighted the problem often, but because the shipments had to go out they would create “work-arounds” to help complete the manual transactions. The result was overtime and a disgruntled truck scheduling team.

Drawing the waste was easy and it didn’t take long talking to the team to understand their frustration, but quantifying the waste and creating a sense of urgency to fix it was not.

One solution was to isolate the waste so everyone HAS to see it. In this example a work instruction was written for all of the manual transactions that had to be completed. The work instructions were specific including the sequence, timing, location, and output of the work.

The leaders of the team then hired an outside temporary service to complete the extra manual work. The work was completed at a special desk in the office area called the Manual Work desk.

This isolated the waste and allowed them to quantify it.

Isolating the Waste to Quantify It

Now it was easy to see the waste, physically, in the area. The Manual Work desk was isolated and when anyone was working at the desk it was waste. The cost was as easily visible. The invoice from the temporary service was a weekly reminder of what it was costing the company to not fix the problem.

This same strategy works very well with inventory that builds up because of long changeovers or safety stock needed to maintain flow with poor equipment reliability.

Help your organization to not only see waste through value stream mapping and observation, but also see waste in real terms by isolating the parts or time necessary to store or complete wasted activity.

Learn more in Patrick’s book, “Facilitating Effective Change,” available online through Amazon and Barnes & Noble. He is also the founder of UTV Advisors, a business consulting firm based in Pittsburgh, PA.

Patrick Putorti

Patrick Putorti

Patrick Putorti

Latest posts by Patrick Putorti (see all)

Speak Your Mind