We have come a long way in the past 30 years when we were dumping everything into landfill whilst not truly understanding the future consequences of our actions.

We have, over time, worked out that this is not good for the planet, no matter what your views on climate change or global warming.

It is fantastic to see the new approach the manufacturing industry has taken to waste. This includes all forms of separating, segregating, repurposing, reusing and recycling.  Although this can take some extra work now, it will help in the future.

But there is one aspect that too many companies are missing completely ……. Avoiding waste in the first place.

Now this doesn’t necessarily mean Lean Manufacturing or Zero Waste, it can simply mean a reduction in the amount of waste or amount of rework.

A number of years ago, as the QA Manager of a manufacturing plant for a large corporation, the Operations Manager & I were given KPIs to reduce rework by 50% & wastage by 50%, in 1 year.

As all KPIs had to be achieved to get our bonus, I will admit, we immediately thought, “well, no bonus for us this year”.  We thought that because we had been running the plant together for 2 years and thought we had it running pretty smick.

We took a month to benchmark the current situation and from this we found target areas.  We had meetings with all staff in each section of the factory & also asked all suppliers when they visited to see if they could see any areas where we couldn’t see because of our “industrial blindness”.

Industrial Blindness comes from working in the same place for a long time.  Things you see every day become “normal” and “typical” therefore you don’t see them for what they really are.

After 11 months we managed to reduce rework by 49.7% and waste by 74.5%.

The major cost benefits were:

1 – Reduced industrial bin lifts from 20 per week to 4, or 1000 lifts a year to 200.

2 – Reduced raw material purchasing by 15% – as the volumes we had to make were reduced, yet we were putting out the same amount of finished product.

3 – As stated above, the cost of doing business reduced overall with raw materials, work hours (reduced weekend work) & cost of taking away waste.

You don’t know what you don’t know.

CHALLENGE:  Conduct a REAL rework & waste exercise to see where you currently stand and set a goal to reduce this by 50% in 12 months.

Imagine if you did this exercise and ONLY reduced rework & waste by 25%?  That wouldn’t help the bottom line of your business at all… or would it??

The 7 most expensive words in business are:  But we’ve always done it that way.

If you need assistance doing this or with taking a real hard look at the rework & waste you currently create, perhaps it’s time to invite in an external set of eyes to remove your “industrial blindness”.  Ask eQA, we are here to help.