Catch us at IFE. 25-27th March 2024, ExCel London. Stand 150
May 7, 2024

10 Most Common Causes of Manufacturing Waste & How to Reduce Them

In manufacturing, waste goes beyond just the surplus materials; it includes all unnecessary processes. This means any excessive use of time, labour, and energy that do not contribute to the final product but increase overall costs. Recognising and eliminating these inefficiencies is vital for enhancing productivity and sustainability. In this blog, we explore the ten most common types of waste in the manufacturing process and offer practical solutions to address them effectively, thereby improving operational efficiency and reducing costs.

1. Overproduction

Overproduction occurs when items are produced before they are required, leading to excess inventory. This type of waste is often driven by overestimated demand forecasts or production schedules not aligned with sales outcomes. The solution lies in adopting a Just-In-Time (JIT) production system, which synchronises manufacturing processes with demand, ensuring that items are only produced as they are needed. This approach reduces the need for storage space and minimises the risk of excess products becoming obsolete.

Busroot, our manufacturing analytics platform, can support you in adopting this Just-In-Time approach. Busroot provides real-time monitoring of production lines and insights into actual demand and production rates. As such, manufacturers can align their output precisely with market needs, minimising excess production and reducing the risk of surplus inventory.

2. Waiting

Waiting time waste is typically seen when one process is completed but the next cannot commence, causing delays. It usually arises from poorly coordinated workflows, or downtime due to equipment malfunctions. To reduce waiting, streamline your process flow and ensure that all resources, including materials and labour, are optimally allocated.

Implementing automated scheduling systems can also help minimise downtime and improve production efficiency. Busroot measures downtime and provides you with patterns as to the most common causes of downtime. This information can be essential in highlighting the at risk areas and putting maintenance in place to reduce breakdowns and consequent waiting time.

3. Unnecessary Transport

Excessive movement of materials or products between processes can lead to wasted time and increased risk of damage or loss. This often results from inefficient factory layouts or unclear process ownership. In order to minimise this type of waste, you need to optimise the physical layout of the production area to ensure a smooth flow of materials. Consider using value stream mapping to identify and eliminate unnecessary transportation steps within your processes.

4. Over-processing

Over-processing waste occurs when more work is done on a product than what is required by the client, including the use of resources that do not enhance the product’s value. This can happen due to misunderstandings of customer requirements or over-engineered processes. Imagine a company that manufactures kitchen cabinets. The standard client requirement is for cabinets to have a durable finish that is resistant to water and typical kitchen stains. However, the company decides to apply a six-layer coating process that includes not only a base sealer and topcoat but also several intermediate layers intended to enhance scratch resistance and UV protection.

While these additional layers might be valuable in specific applications like outdoor furniture, they are unnecessary for kitchen cabinets that are primarily used indoors and away from direct sunlight. This extra processing adds to the production time and increases the costs of materials and energy, without providing proportional value to the client or significant enhancement to the product's functionality. You can combat over-processing by clearly understanding customer needs and simplifying production processes to meet these requirements without exceeding them. Regularly review and adjust your operations to avoid any unnecessary steps.

5. Excess Inventory

Excess inventory is what it says on the tin; inventory sitting around that is not needed and is taking up valuable space. This often masks underlying production issues and ties up capital in unsold goods, escalating storage and management costs. It typically stems from overproduction or purchasing more raw materials than necessary. To tackle this issue, implement inventory management systems like Kanban, which control the flow and volume of inventory in the production cycle, ensuring that only the necessary amount of materials is on hand at any time.

6. Unnecessary Motion

Waste of motion involves any movement by employees or machinery that does not add value to the product. This could be as simple as the layout of tools being inefficient, causing workers to spend time walking back and forth. Reducing this waste requires optimising workspace layouts to minimise motion and ensure that everything is positioned within easy reach. Additionally, ergonomic improvements can reduce strain on workers, thereby increasing efficiency. Busroot can provide you with a map of your entire shop-floor, of which can help you with process mapping and finding effective motion savings.

Want to see Busroot in action? Schedule a FREE demo to see how manufacturing analytics can transform your business!

7. Defects

Defects involve anything that makes a product not fit for selling, this could be incorrect final measurements or cracks/dents in products. This then leads to rework or scrapping, which wastes materials, time, and effort. Poor quality control, inadequate worker training, or subpar materials often cause this waste. Implementing robust quality control processes at every stage of production can help detect issues early before they result in major losses.

Busroot is the perfect quality control companion, as it can identify patterns that lead to defects, allowing for preemptive action to enhance product quality. A lot of the time the defects can be a result of human error, so continuous training and feedback loops will also help to minimise defects.

8. Underutilisation of Employees

Failing to utilise workers’ skills effectively can lead to significant productivity losses. This waste is often caused by poor job allocation, lack of training, or inadequate engagement. To fully leverage the potential of your workforce, encourage continuous skills development and involve employees in decision-making processes. This will not only increase job satisfaction but also ensure that skills are used effectively within the production process.

9. Poor Maintenance

Machine downtime and inefficient operations can often be traced back to inadequate maintenance. Regular and preventive maintenance checks are crucial to avoid unexpected machine failures that can disrupt the entire production process. Busroot can successfully implement a routine maintenance schedule for your business, providing the most opportune times to perform essential maintenance. The predictive maintenance technology will anticipate and address potential issues before they lead to equipment failure, reducing overall waste.

10. Inefficient Energy Use

Excessive energy consumption not only leads to high operating costs but also impacts the environment. This type of waste is often caused by outdated equipment or inefficient energy practices. Conducting energy audits to identify areas where energy use can be reduced is the best way to combat this, however this can be very time consuming. Busroot can automate this whole process for you, by continuously monitoring the energy consumption of all connected devices and machinery across the manufacturing floor. This real-time data allows for immediate identification of energy usage patterns and highlights areas where consumption is higher than necessary.

By understanding the root causes of these common types of waste and implementing strategic measures to address them, manufacturers can significantly enhance their efficiency and sustainability. Reducing waste is not just about cutting costs—it's about improving processes, maximising resource utilisation, and making the entire operation more dynamic and competitive in the market. Busroot can help you achieve all of the above, so if you want to see how we can help transform your business, get in touch now and schedule your free demo!