04 Jul 2011

The elimination of waste is the main focus of Lean Manufacturing.  In recent years, many organizations have incorporated the concept of the “eighth waste” in their implementation of Lean Manufacturing.  Many early sources spoke about the Seven Wastes that are found in most processes:

  • Overproducing
  • Transporting
  • Waiting
  • Inappropriate processing
  • Building unnecessary inventories
  • Conducting unnecessary movements
  • Defects and errors

Lean practitioners have come to recognize that elimination of these seven wastes is highly dependent on getting people involved in the Improvement process.  This failure to fully utilize the workforce talents and fully engage employees is now considered the most significant waste of all and is referred to as the eighth waste.

These wastes are symptoms of the underlying root cause for the real problems. For instance, excess inventories may be an indication of unbalanced workloads, machine breakdowns, misunderstood customer requirements, and unreliable suppliers.

Being on the lookout for the evidence of waste provides a starting point for the investigation of the root causes and for finding solutions to the problems.  Employees are not only closer to the symptoms, but also closer to the root causes of the problems.

In a previous article, I explained the compatibility of ISO 9001:2008 and Lean Manufacturing.  ISO 9001:2008 specifies that the organization must disseminate its’ Quality Policy and Objectives so that all employees understand them and how their jobs contribute to them. It also specifies that the organization must be engaged in the continual improvement of its Quality Management System.

The eighth waste can be described as “underutilized minds.”  Although ISO has some built-in requirements for improvement such as internal audits, corrective and prevention action systems, it does not prescribe how employees, in general, should be involved in the continual improvement of the organization.

To address the eighth waste, organizations desiring to institute a Lean ISO system need to:

  • Train employees early in the process on the Quality Policy and Objectives  so that they begin to understand their roles in the process.
  • Engage employees in the documentation process including involvement in writing the initial drafts of procedures or work instructions.
  • Select and train employees as Internal Auditors so that they learn about other areas within the company when participating in audits.
  • Involve employees in Internal Audits as both Auditors and Auditees.
  • Engage employees in workspace organization and standardization (5S) and in improvement events such as Value Stream Mapping and Kaizen activities.
  • Train employees in root cause analysis and basic problem solving techniques so that they can assist in maintaining the Corrective and Preventive Action Systems (CAPA).
  • Develop workplace organization score cards and train your Internal Auditors in their use.

These actions will significantly reduce the eighth waste in the organization by engaging the workforce in the Continual Improvement process.

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