When manufacturing processes try to make themselves more “lean” they focus on what is known as the 7 forms of waste. The idea comes from the Toyota Production System and the Japanese concept of muda (waste). In truth there are many types of waste (more than 7!) and identifying the category of waste an item or activity falls into is less important than identifying the possible improvement. But these 7 are the big hitters – the “deadly” forms of waste.
While we usually think about these things only on the manufacturing floor or maybe in a office the truth is that there are examples all around us. You just have to learn to see them. And once you see them you’re going to be filled with ideas for how to eliminate them.
I want to give you a different perspective on how to organize your home by challenging you to look for wasted resources in your household and trying to find ways to use them more effectively.
What is waste (muda)?
Traditional definition: The use of resources (time, materials, people) over and above what is needed to meet the customer’s needs.
Household definition: Not having enough time, money, and space for what you really need and want because your money, time, and things are being eaten away by activities you don’t need or want.
Forms of Waste
1. Transportation (movement of stuff)
Traditional Example: The assembly of a table involves the table tops being made on the east side of the building, legs being made the middle of the building and assembly taking place on the far west end. This means both the table tops and legs have to be moved to the west end of the building for assembly.
Solution: Switch the location of assembly and leg building so that assembly takes place in the middle. The both tops and legs can converge in the center of the building, reducing the distance they each need to travel for assembly.
Household Example: Your family loves to eat air-popped popcorn – at least 3 times a week. You keep the airpopper in the lower cabinet next to the stove – way in the back. And you keep the popcorn kernals in the pantry on the other side of the kitchen. Each time you make popcorn someone has to bend down to pull out the popper (excess motion) and then walk to the pantry to bring the kernals to the counter (transportation & motion) and then do the reverse (putting away kernals & popper) after your popcorn is made.
Solution: Since you eat popcorn so frequently, find a spot in the cabinets for the popper that doesn’t require bending or stretching to get it and store the jar of kernals with the popper.
Traditional Example: A furniture manufacturer has orders for 8000 dressers through year end, each needing 4 drawer pulls. They need 32,000 drawer pulls. They have 60,000 pulls in their stockroom. The extra 28,000 pulls take up valuable storage space that could be used for other things. Also, the company paid money to buy each of those which could have been spent on other materials.
Solution: In the long term, better purchasing planning. In the short term, ask the pull manufacturer if you can return them for a refund, find a buyer for just the pulls, or package the pulls for resell.
Household Example: When you finished your basement off to make a playroom and office you moved all of the items stored in there into the garage and a storage unit across town. Now you can no longer park your car in the garage and you are spending $100 each month on the storage unit. You car is getting extra wear from being exposed to the elements and is at greater risk of damage and possible theft. (Solution: eliminate the items in the garage and storage unit that you no longer need. Donate to charity, give to others who need them or have a garage sale. Also eliminate other unneeded items in yoru home to make room for the things from the garage/storage that you do need to keep.)
Do these sound familiar? What areas of waste do you see in your home? What small changes could you make to improve it? As you walk through your day and your home this week, be on the look out for waste and think about what adjustments you could make to eliminate it.
I’d love to hear from you!! Let me know what you find!
And stay with me this week as we look at the other 5 “deadly” forms of waste: motion, waiting, overproduction, overprocessing and defects.