How Your Operations Manager Can Eliminate Waste

Eliminating waste, or muda as the Japanese call it, is the core of the lean approach to business and is key to good operations management. Waste exists in any process, and the goal of smart business is to identify it and get rid of it.

The process flow diagram is a useful tool for identifying waste. The flow diagram is a visual representation of the process that you can use to identify those activities that don’t add value to the end product. These are the activities on which you want to focus your efforts.

An organized work environment is essential for the identification, elimination, and prevention of waste. “A place for everything and everything in its place” is a philosophy of lean companies. Applying the 5S approach helps provide and maintain an organized work environment. The 5S approach consists of these five elements (that all begin with S):

  1. Sort

    Identify what’s necessary to do the job and get rid of the rest.

  2. Set

    Place the needed items in a convenient, easily accessible place.

  3. Shine

    Keep the work area clean and free of clutter.

  4. Standardize

    Organize all work areas in the same manner if possible.

  5. Sustain

    Establish procedures to keep the clutter clear and the workplace organized. Put everything back in its designated place when done with it.

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