Reduce Waste in 3 Simple Steps with Lean Manufacturing

Matt Smith
March 1, 2017
Improve your manufacturing processes to handle heavier loads, Fishbowl BlogAn anemic bottom line can be the result of excessive waste in your manufacturing process. Learning to streamline these processes may reduce waste, cut costs, and satisfy your current customers. Lean manufacturing doesn’t necessarily mean using cheaper vendors for your parts. High-quality parts with limited complaints and defects can boost your business and customer loyalty. Other contributing factors for excess waste include too much inventory or supplies on hand, overproduction, and extensive paper trails for invoices. Your manufacturing processes may need an overhaul to reduce waste. The following simple, yet effective, solutions may boost your company’s bottom line.


The IIoT, or the Industrial Internet of Things, operates through the implementation of Big Data analytics in several industries, including agriculture, mining and aviation. It can also reduce waste in the manufacturing industry. With its wide ranges of uses, the cost of this technology is now affordable to smaller businesses. Using the IIoT allows you to analyze data and spot trends or patterns in the manufacturing process, such as delays or lead times between production steps or product overuse. You can assess whether this trend occurs only during certain time periods or year ‘round. There used to be several challenges to implementing lean technology, like wiring and equipment issues. But now, you have access to wireless cards and range extenders for a fraction of the cost. The software systems available are cloud-based, take little room, and hold massive amounts of data. Managers can remotely access valuable information from anywhere. The software program can alert you or your team regarding possible defects or issues that require maintenance. This can also lead to a reduction in downtime.


Lean processes are not limited to production. Advanced Manufacturing explains how lean principles can also apply to the movement of materials. The locating and transporting of goods both play a major part in excessive waste, whether that means using extra fuel or physical labor to move products from one area to another or another challenge entirely. If your company is overproducing products, it will need to store the excess inventory until needed. This can lead to employees moving the products several times in the warehouse or spending unproductive time searching for a shipment that’s moved. Lean manufacturing processes can decrease overproduction and implement specific storage areas for product awaiting shipment. You will want to reassess and refine the current process periodically to omit any unnecessary steps or wait times. If your shipments require forklift operators, you’re also looking at the cost of energy consumption and delays while the trucks charge. You can reduce wasteful time spent looking for tools and machines by assigning organized stations close to the work area.


There are several factors that contribute to downtime, including a long approval process for paying invoices or requesting maintenance, machinery repairs or too much lead time between production steps. Overproduction can also lead to downtime, as workers will eventually run out of space to store products and may have to stop production. Only producing enough to fill orders in a short time will reduce employee downtime and possible future layoffs. Lean Manufacturing Tools goes into detail about how downtime hinders both cost and productivity. For example, waiting for a lost order due to transportation issues or employees with poor training and an inability to know where to start can create downtime. This “waste of waiting” results in paying workers for standing still and not creating value for the customer. By reducing overproduction and focusing on standard procedures and machine performance, you can reduce company downtime.

Lean Is the Future

Streamlining your lean manufacturing processes may take time, but it’s critical that you regularly analyze and tweak specific processes to ensure your company improves efficiency and customer satisfaction. You want to focus on continuous improvement, not a short-term lean manufacturing project. Remain open to suggestions from your teams about additional ways to reduce waste in your industry, and you might be surprised by what you can achieve.