Sunday, February 7, 2010

Seven Wastes|Waste of Motion

In a previous post on how to implement lean manufacturing I discussed the seven wastes, within this post I will discuss the waste of motion. This is the waste of time and effort due to any motion of the man or machine that does not add any value to the product.

This waste of motion has a long history of being documented, Frank Gilbreth a guru of time and motion from the time of Taylor specialized in this area. He highlighted the many motions that a bricklayer made when building a wall, the bricklayer bending down to ground level to pick up a heavy brick then having to bring it up to working height. This wasted time as well as having the potential to cause stress to the back of the individual involved. (He also was also the inspiration behind the “cheaper by the dozen” films but that is getting away from how to implement lean manufacturing, I am sure that you can find much information about him if you want to learn about his life and works.)

As already discussed earlier while we were writing about how to implement lean manufacturing, anything that does not directly add value to the product is waste, lifting the brick from floor to working height is not adding any value therefore it is waste. It is also a health and safety issue in many places, and with today’s society being heavily focused on finding blame for any problem and applying a financial penalty to the responsible it would be sensible to minimize any unnecessary motion of this type! You will see in many companies now self adjusting tables that keep the product to be processed at just the right height for the operator to eliminate bending as the stack reduces in height as it is used.

The motion within a machine can also be wasteful contributing to the waste of processing time. You often see after a machine is loaded with product the tool will move towards the holding fixture to begin it’s work. The tool obviously has to be clear of the fixture to enable the operator to load it, but often it is far to far away which means that time is wasted as it travels to the jig. This may be only a few seconds but if the process is repeated as often it is, many times over a shift, the loss can add up quite significantly.

In addition to this, the movement speed is often left at the same rate as the “working” speed, so instead of the machine moving rapidly from one position to the next when not actually applying any work it moves at the slower work speed.

Again, stand and watch and study what actually happens, it is surprising what you will observe if you take the time to actually watch what is happening. Watch and question what you see. Why is the material where it is, can it be brought closer? Why do we have to keep turning the product and switching hands, is there a better more efficient method?

So watch and question everything, this is how to implement lean manufacturing, in my next post I will continue to discuss the seven wastes, moving onto the waste of transportation. To go to the full list of waste use this link for waste elimination.

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