In a previous post on how to implement lean manufacturing I discussed the seven wastes, within this post I will discuss the waste of over processing. Wasting time and other resources doing something that adds no value to the customer.
What does this mean? Sorry to Rolls Royce for using the following example but it is probably one of the most frequently used examples, why polish the rotor blades of the engine where it does nothing for the function and cannot be seen! How often have you seen processes where they paint or finish areas of a product that never get seen and where it will have functional benefit.
Sometimes it is necessary to paint unseen areas due to the risk of corrosion, but is there a better cheaper alternative? Could you coat the material with a cheaper alternative, or use materials that were not prone to corrosion in the first place.
In addition to these obvious wastes, think about the functionality of your product, is it really adding any value to the customer or are you doing far more than he really wants? What is the point of having a refined top of the range suspension for use on perfect UK and US motorways and highways if the car will be driven on rough concrete roads with poor joins and multiple pot holes? Do you think that the ford car produced for the European and US market has the same suspension as that produced in India for the Indian domestic market?
Is it worth using an expensive computer chip capable of many millions of calculations per second if it will be utilized in a very simple application where a much simpler and cheaper version could be utilized. Are you defining tolerances of fractions of a mm where actually much wider tolerances could be allowed?
When implementing lean manufacturing we want to aim for perfection, but that perfection is what the customer values not more. Ensure that instructions and standards are clear to ensure that we do not incur the waste of over processing.
If you want to learn how to implement lean manufacturing, you need to not only think if each step in the process is adding value, but is that value required? Is that value in excess of what the customer needs?
In the next post about how to implement lean manufacturing I will talk about the waste of over production, one of the most serious of the Seven Wastes. Use this link to return to a full list of wastes for waste reduction.