Waste in manufacturing takes many forms. Material waste like material scrap and defective products you throw out are one form. Idle time, under-utilized machines and workers and unnecessary trips are other forms. Here are a few tips on how to manage waste in the manufacturing process.

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A Place for Everything and Everything in Its Place

One of the tenets of 5S is having a place for everything and everything in its place. If you have a place for all of your tools and parts, no one has to go looking for that specific tool they need, and they never have to hunt for a particular component they need to assemble next.

Another variation of this is having clearly identified bins for specific types of waste in a centrally located area or at each workstation. Now everyone knows where to put those types of plastic and metal waste instead of it getting mixed up in the waste stream, and workstations are kept clean. Cleaner workstations reduce the odds of foreign object debris rendering something defective as well as the risk of accidents.

Reuse and Recycle by Design

You can build reuse of components, parts and tools into your very operations. Designing assembly lines and supply chains so they can reuse plastic pallets is one example; allowing people to send back products for refurbishment and re-sale in exchange for credit is another.

You can build on this concept by working with a company like Lundbergtech to build it into your operations by their very design. For example, capturing industrial gases at the end of a manufacturing process lets you reuse them, saving money while reducing environmental impact at the same time.

Ask Your Shop Floor Staff

How can we change the assembly process so that we have less trash or defective products? How can we change things around so that it gets done faster? What can we do differently so that it is done with fewer mistakes? Your staff may recommend different or better tools so fewer things are damaged during assembly and tossed. Or they could recommend pre-assembled components brought in, speeding things up and reducing the amount of overall inventory you need.

Better fixtures may mean faster assembly times and fewer defective parts when they’re done. You could learn how things could be better arranged like putting a second processing unit in the center so that people don’t sit idle as long and work is done faster.

Simpler Is Better

Designing simpler, closer fitting packaging instead of complex layers of packaging saves material and time. Advertising printed on the box may add a little to the cost, but it uses less material than ordering a box and printed labels attached to the box that may come off or end up in the wrong spot. Any assembly or shipping process with fewer steps has fewer opportunities for defects, especially if you eliminate unnecessary handling on the shop floor or on the retail floor.

Reducing waste has to be a conscious effort in your organization and has to be implemented on every level. Don’t be afraid to get your staff involved and ask how certain processes could be improved.

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