Waiting – time spent idle or unproductive until parts, materials, information or other inputs are made available. In this series titled “The 8 Lean Wastes and Their Potentially Disastrous Effects”, we examine case studies for when companies, government organizations, or entire industries have allowed a specific type of waste to escalate to a disastrous effect. In this post, we review the waste of Waiting to understand what causes it, how to see it, and how to eliminate it. Leanmanufacturingtools.org defines waiting as “the act of doing nothing or working slowly whilst waiting for a previous step in the process.”
The 8 Wastes and Their Potentially Disastrous Effects:
Leading into the Halloween of 1999, Hershey Foods lost over $150M in revenue due to a preventable mishap in supply chain execution. The company tried to “go live” on multiple supply chain management systems at the same time. In addition, they failed to follow the prescribed implementation plan provided by the software’s developers. The result was that even though the product had been produced, they were unable to “see” the project in the newly implemented management systems and subsequently, could not process orders. Their customers and consumers were left waiting for product that did not arrive, which cost Hersey’s $150M and their customers’ businesses also took a hit. Profits dropped 19% for Q3 of that year and continued to drop for Q4 due to lost credibility and damaged customer relationships.
Hershey’s then implemented an Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) system that allowed them much greater visibility over their supply chain, inventory, and critical customer data.
The software’s developer estimated 48 months to correctly implement the supply chain management system but Hershey’s rushed the implementation for fear of how Y2K would affect the computer systems. As we’re all aware of now, Y2K had no effect on computer system operability; thus this fearful and rash decision was completely unfounded.
For more details on this case study, check out the CIO article at the following link:
Waiting is a waste that frequently occurs in any manufacturing operation. This is often caused by either poorly balanced work areas or unreliable processes; and sometimes both. The key is to be able to spot waiting waste as it’s happening and take quick action to eliminate it by getting to the root cause and preventing it from happening again. Fortunately, waiting is one of the easiest types of waste to see as it’s happening. It only takes one to be present, engaged, and seeking waiting waste. A great tool for this is to install a high-visibility indicator that detects movement. When the expected movement is not occurring, it can be expected that the process step is waiting and an alert can be provided. Continuous Improvement happens when people actively seek out opportunities to reduce and prevent waiting waste whenever it occurs. This happens when the appropriate cultural behaviors are being promoted.
Impruver also helps you see waiting waste in the form of lost efficiency. In Impruver, waiting waste would either show up as Rate Loss (if the line is running but below standard rate) or Unplanned Downtime Loss (if the line is stopped and the stoppage is recorded). This enables you to not only capture losses but also to quantify the financial impact that waiting waste is having on your business.
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