Waste reduction is the ultimate target of lean manufacturing, a manufacturing practice that takes into account all expenditure of all resources to identify value from the customer’s perspective.
In general, one of the biggest contributors to waste is inventory. Thus, manufacturers would decide to cut down expenses on procurement. However, there are also several other effective ways that manufacturers can implement to reduce waste.
1. Identify the Key Areas of Waste
Anything that provides no value to the customer and contributes nothing to your bottom line, but definitely has a cost can be classified as waste. It may exist in every department of your company, thus it’s critical for you to find out the most common areas of waste in your business.
Have you been producing too many goods that are not even needed by your customers? Or is there too much delay in your production process so you need more time and costs to spend on machines and workers?
2. Manage Inventory Efficiently
Efficient inventory management means keeping the right amount of inventory (including raw materials, WIP, and finished goods), thereby reducing the risk of loss, decay, and, damage. So, how do you control the procurement of goods at a manufacturing plant?
First of all, you must be able to forecast your inventory needs. You need to make sure that the amounts and types of materials that you keep are adequate for your production and the goods you will produce are in accordance with your customer demands, so there will be no more unnecessary purchases.
Examine your previous sales data and keep yourself up to date with current trends to estimate how many items you have to produce and what materials you are going to need. Find out your best-selling products and those that are less profitable, so you can produce and sell the right items this time.
In addition to using the right forecasting technique, you also need to control your inventory by regularly monitoring your stock levels. Make sure your inventory is always at the predetermined minimum level. Know when you have to reorder, so you can avoid stock-outs.
To optimize the efficiency of inventory management at your manufacturing plant, consider using cloud-based inventory management software. It enables you to forecast, monitor inventory levels, control costs, and place orders from anywhere and at any time needed.
Also read the related article: 7 Ways to Improve Efficiency at Your Manufacturing Plant
3. Reduce Packaging Materials Usage
Product packaging is one of the major contributors to waste. Good packaging designs are sometimes needed to highlight the uniqueness of your product, but that does not mean you have to sacrifice a lot of money for them.
Redesign your product if that’s possible. Replace your product packaging with reusable and recyclable materials for starting a zero-waste lifestyle. Also, consider making a new product out of the cardboard boxes or leftover plastics that you use to pack your current products.
4. Establish Routine Maintenance Schedules
Check the condition of your machines and equipment regularly. Equipment damage or failures lead to unplanned downtime in the production process and other activities on the shop floor, which then cause order fulfillment delays. Furthermore, you will end up spending more on new machines and equipment. Therefore, it’s important to schedule regular preventive maintenance.
HashMicro’s Asset & Fleet Management Software can make it easier for you to record your equipment conditions and schedule routine maintenance for all your manufacturing assets. It also allows you to keep track of fuel consumption as well as the location of your delivery trucks, thus any issues can be identified earlier.
5. Leverage Automation for Your Business
You may be thinking that investing in software is not the right solution to reduce waste, since you will still need to spend quite a lot of money to implement it. However, the cost you will spend on software is actually much cheaper compared to the costs that you have to spend regularly on your workers, new machines, reparations, and other unnecessary tools.
With an automated manufacturing solution, you will be able to reduce lead time, the need for labor, human error, and operating costs. You won’t need to worry about the price, because cloud manufacturing software provides affordable costs for small and medium sized manufacturers.