7 Wastes

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Elimination of muda
Muda is a traditional general Japanese term for activity that is wasteful and doesn't add value or is unproductive or not useful in practice or others. It is also a key concept in the Toyota Production System (TPS) and is one of the three types of waste (Muda, Mura, Muri) that it identifies. Mura signifies wastes due to unevenness and muri signifies wastes due to overburden. Waste as defined by Toyota’s president, Fujio Cho, is “anything other than the minimum amount of equipment, materials, parts and workers which are absolutely essential to production”. The seven types of wastes identified are 1.Overproduction – Waste due to producing before customer requires or more than needed which often hides production problems. 2.Waiting time – Idle time in manufacturing because materials, information, people or equipment are not ready 3.Transportation – Moving the product adds no value but increases the risk of damage and delays. 4.Inventory – Raw materials, WIP and finished goods block up capital and also run the risk of damage, obsolescence. 5.Overprocessing – Complex processing, using of expensive resources which can be reduced, processing beyond user requirements 6.Motion – Unnecessary movement in workers and equipments adds no value but wastes time 7.Product defects – Defective products are rejected by customers and have no more than scrap value. Elimination of these wastes are important since they add no value but impose time and cost penalties. These wastes also show inefficient production. Further excess inventory can block up working capital. In today’s competitive business environment, minimizing these wastes are important. Toyota has led the way with its lean manufacturing techniques. Minimizing of all kinds of wastes is an important goal for the company. Other organizations too are learning the importance and working towards reducing all non-value adding activities. Reducing these wastes creates environmental benefits also e.g. by reducing defects and having efficient production systems. While designing any process, waste management should be considered. Simple steps often lead to better efficiencies.  

The article gives insights into how to design products and systems which result in minimum wastes. It has addressed the seven different types of wastes. A good design in the beginning can reduce potential wastes down the line. If the design itself is flawed, production process will result in too much waste and will be difficult to rectify once in operation. While identification and elimination of wastes can be done at the manufacturing stage, not much can be done if the wastes are resultant of bad product designs. The reason for bad design is the separation between the design and the manufacturing process. Feedback is usually received months or even years later. Thus it is essential to consider the various wastes which will arise once production starts at the initial phase of designing itself. Production should be according to customer requirements, not before the customer needs it. Designs which require batch processing add to the problem of overproduction. Including too many details for making & testing the items can impact the manufacturing process. Transportation should be reduced as it adds no value. To reduce this waste design should consider how cumbersome items are handled, reduce number of parts needed and try to purchase from suppliers nearby. Worker and equipment movement is also a waste. E.g. searching, reaching, walking, sorting and bending. Design should be easily oriented for use, maintenance and manufacturing. Symmetrical designs also reduce movement. Special care should be given to the heavy and cumbersome parts which often require many moves to position them. Manufacturing work is halted when waiting for materials, information, people or equipment. Complete and accurate design information can reduce production startup delays. Designs should incorporate feedback...
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