The ultimate goal of any manufacturing process should be to create value. Value is anything your company does that creates something that your customers are willing to pay for. As an example, an employee tightening a bolt on a piece of equipment is generating value. An employee hunting around to find the right wrench to do that job is not generating value and is, therefore, generating waste. The ways that companies can increase the amount of value they generate are surprisingly simple, in many cases, but require work to identify.
There has been extensive work done on identifying waste. The Japanese auto companies were some of the leaders in identifying where money is lost in the manufacturing process and, given their successes, the value of these methodologies is easy to understand. Inventory is one of the sources of loss that everyone is familiar with. There are others, however, including over-processing, the movement of resources unnecessarily and waiting that all conspire to drain a company’s resources while providing no benefit to the company. Eliminating them starts by understanding them.
If an employee is striving for excellence, for example, that is always a good thing. Sometimes, however, employees will do more work than needed on a product. This translates directly to waste. Communicating this to employees without making it seem like you’re asking for lower-quality work is difficult, and potentially destructive to morale. A consultant knows how to address these issues and to communicate that the overall goal is to create a better product, something any dedicated employee is generally enthusiastic to do. The many sources of waste in your company can be eliminated and, by doing so, you can increase efficiency and develop better processes. This helps profitability and helps your company compete in today’s global marketplace.