Waste is everywhere but isn't inevitable, part 2

THE SEVEN TYPES of waste, which we identified last month (pg. 50), are: Defects This is a product or service that contains errors, requires rework or does not function as designed. Over-production of goods We create waste when we produce more than the customer needs or is needed at that time. Transportation This is the waste of moving materials or goods. Waiting When people, equipment or product wait

THE SEVEN TYPES of waste, which we identified last month (Waste is everywhere but it isn't inevitable), are:

  1. Defects This is a product or service that contains errors, requires rework or does not function as designed.
  2. Over-production of goods We create waste when we produce more than the customer needs or is needed at that time.
  3. Transportation This is the waste of moving materials or goods.
  4. Waiting When people, equipment or product wait for other processes or workers to finish an upstream activity, it is waste.
  5. Over-processing This waste happens when there are unnecessary or extra steps in the process or if there are any steps that do not create value.
  6. Motion Employees moving around do not add value.
  7. Inventory Material or parts not currently being used by the customer is waste. In construction, this includes uncut sheet metal and pipe, work in process and finished fabrications.

Waste is everywhere. This is not a statement of blame, just fact. Enlightened managers see waste reduction as a competitive advantage. The rest see it as inevitable and unpreventable! Start driving waste out. Declare war on waste. Be a waste buster. There are many simple techniques that can help the construction industry attack waste. Here are some of the basic tools:

The 5S's came from Toyota and are used to organize and visually control the workplace to eliminate waste. The 5S's are Sorting, Simplifying, Sweeping, Standardizing and Self-Discipline.

Kanban is a Japanese term meaning "a signboard"; it is a communication tool or signal used to tell workers to pull parts or refill material to a certain quantity used in fabrication or production. A two-bin system for storing bolts can be a Kanban tool. When one bin is empty, it's time to reorder. Use Kanban to reduce excess inventory.

The Last Planner System is a tool developed by the Lean Construction Institute for applying Lean to project management. The Last Planner is the field supervisor who assigns work to the crews. LPS outperforms traditional project management methods by:

  • Reducing variability common among construction so the work flows from the completion of one task to another;
  • Doing ongoing planning to greater levels of detail;
  • Making work ready to be performed so that crews can finish a task without interruption, rework or remobilization (doing the look-ahead plan);
  • Holding weekly coordinating meetings where last planners ( supervision) make commitments to each other in support of the schedule (doing the weekly work plan); and
  • Managing the project through monitoring the plan's completion rate rather than the progress compared to schedule (effort). This creates a learning process by investigating why parts of the plan failed and then fixing it.

Rules of Release are established to ensure the hand-offs are done right the first time, while Lean concentrates on the hand-offs between operations. These rules list the information and product quality required by the receiving side to be able to do the next operation correctly.

Spaghetti Chart is a physical map of the work area that shows the path taken by the specific product or a person being observed. A line is drawn from start to end indicating the path moved by the product or person. The results might surprise you.

Standard Procedures are the defined steps to do the process. They are assumed to be the best way to do the job or task. One can't improve a method if no standard way exists!

Value Stream Analysis includes all the processes and activities used to design, produce and deliver the product or service to the customer. Drawn as a flow chart, it identifies the activities, operations, steps, key performance measures and work times for a process. In analyzing the Value Stream, every step is classified into one of three possible types: adds value, does not add value but is necessary, and does not add value and is not necessary.

Consider the following about waste:

  • Waste happens, and much more often than most of us think.
  • Waste can be attacked and reduced without a major capital investment. We don't have to accept waste because it's there!
  • Waste is a symptom of something, not a cause. We need to get to the root cause to eliminate waste.
  • Waste adds cost and time, never value. Reducing waste not only adds to the bottom line, but it also increases the speed of service and productivity.
  • Attacking waste is not about eliminating people or downsizing. Blaming people will not eliminate waste but instead will lead to more hidden waste.

Dennis Sowards, now an industry consultant, led the development of the High-Performing Contractor Assessment model for the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors' National Association. His company is Quality Support Services and can be reached at [email protected] or at 602/740-7271.

More management articles by Dennis Sowards