Waste arising in production processes can have a significant effect on profitability. The challenge is to reduce this waste without undermining the effectiveness of the process.
Some typical problems include the excessive consumption of energy or raw materials, losses in the production process itself, rejection at the inspection stage, and failure when the customer is using the end product.
To know where waste is arising, you need to have a detailed understanding of the process. You might get a production manager to produce a flowchart of the operation.
You can then discuss the process with other relevant employees and get their feedback on where waste is occurring, and what you could do to reduce it.
This broad-brush approach helps you focus on the most important areas, with more detailed analysis following later if necessary.
Common things you might do to improve the efficiency of production processes and reduce waste include:
- reusing rinsewater in cooling systems
- regularly checking that equipment is correctly calibrated
- reducing unnecessary stoppages in a production line
- upgrading or replacing old equipment
- minimising spills or leaks
- using sealed systems
Prevention is better than cure, of course. Constant monitoring of your production processes and preventive maintenance can ensure waste is avoided before it occurs.
For more information on using efficient business methodologies such as Lean and Six Sigma see our guide on process efficiency to cut waste.
Energy costs can also be cut by improving your business processes. For more information see our guide on process control for energy efficiency.