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Art of Lean on Work & Waste, Part 6: Waiting

by Art Smalley
November 13, 2020

Art of Lean on Work & Waste, Part 6: Waiting

by Art Smalley
November 13, 2020 | Comments (0)

Part six of eight. Watch the others:

Hi everyone. This is Art Smalley, president of Art of Lean, Inc. Today, on behalf of the Lean Enterprise Institute, we're going to do a series of short videos about the seven classic forms of waste from the Toyota Production System. Stick around. I think you'll enjoy them.

Waste No. 5. At least for me, No. 5 is the waste of waiting. I put it after motion for a specific reason. If you study as I did in the old days in Toyota in Japanese, when you learn the motion waste, there were 17. And one of those 17 was waiting. So, waiting is a subset of motion. You can argue that in many different ways. Waiting can cause strange motions to occur and things like that. But historically, we taught the Kaizen course, and waiting was one of the motion wastes. I'll show that in a later video.

Let's go back for examples to the machine here. I've got my order. It's supposed to make 10 of these. I'll operate it from the rear and seated for viewing purposes. Again, I've got raw materials over here, and I had to reach for it, a bit of a waste there. Cycle the machine. It comes out, and I want to pack it into a pallet, finished good palette – and we have a problem.

I don't have a finished-goods pallet down here. So you've got to go on the intercom, microphone, your cell phone, and say, Hey supervisor, we're out of pallets over here. I need pallets. I need dunnage. I need things to pack into. [He replies:] Okay, I'll get that right on for you.

Okay. What's happening? I'm waiting. I can run the machine, but I have to create another waste by putting the parts off to the side somewhere. Or I can wait, you know wait – that’s what I was saying, motion can cause waiting, waiting can also cause various motions associated with it. Eventually, let's say the material handlers shows up, and I say, Oh yeah, thank you. Thank you. Thank you. You brought me my palette. Thank you very much. Here's my machine. I can then take the raw material, put it in, cycle, continue to pack my parts, complete the order, and get to the quantity of 10 that I need for this job.

And the point is that in that process, there was waiting that was not my fault. Almost no waiting is value-add. I don't think you could make a case of waiting as a value-add or even incidental. I mean, maybe you can build a case, say there is a case, but it's an exception to the rule. Almost all waiting is some form of waste in the process. We consider it disrespectful to humans and a waste of their time if we don't design processes that are efficient and balance the operator load to takt time. And when you have downtimes and things like that, it causes people to wait, and all of us get frustrated, and most of us would rather be working and doing something productive and value – add in a normal flow of events. Waiting breaks that cycle. So it's a very natural waste. And even though I consider it the fifth waste, for me, often, it's the most annoying form of waste when I'm at the grocery line or waiting at a red light.

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