The 7Ws - Taiichi Ohno's Categories of Waste Taichi Ohno is a production engineer whose formative years were spent

in the textiles division of the Toyota Corporation, and who moved to the automotive business in 1943. Ohno is usually referred to as the Father of the Toyota Production System (TPS), which is itself the basis for what is considered in the West as Lean manufacturing. In fact, the TPS was first launched in the West as Just in Time, or JIT, when the initial visits from the US and Europe to see how Japanese industry had stolen such a march resulted in people returning with stories of factories which made only what was required, when required. No wonder these people were capturing all our markets when they carried no stock and didn't need complex computer systems to plan production. All they had was little yellow cards which sat on the side of tins, stillages or baskets and instructed Machine Shops to provide components for their colleagues (or customers) in Assembly. Later, of course, we realised that there was more to it than this - these little yellow cards (or kanbans) only worked because of all the thought and effort that had been expended in creating a factory that challenged the basic concepts of manufacturing. We realised that JIT was about more than stock and batch quantities and when John Krafcik, a researcher in the late-1980s MIT study into automobile manufacturing, coined the term Lean , it seemed appropriate. Lean, in basic terms, means the elimination of waste (or Muda, in Toyota-speak). Ohno identified seven wastes to be addressed by the Toyota system, and they have become known as the 7Ws. So what are the 7Ws? Defects The simplest form of wate is components or products that do not meet the specification. We all know about the Japanese scaring us with their target of singlefigure reject rates when we realised that they measured in parts per million and that 1% defects gave

a figure of 10,000. Of course, the key point of Japanese quality achievement came with the switch from Quality Control to Quality Assurance - efforts devoted to getting the process right, rather than inspecting the results. Over-Production A key element of JIT was making only the quantity required of any component or product. This challenged the Western premise of the Economic Order Quantity (EOQ) which was built on acceptance of fixed ordering costs, built around set-up times, and thus the need to spread these fixed costs over large batches. Another Japanese guru who contributed to this change is Shigeo Shingo who led Toyota's move from long set-ups to Single Minute Exchange of Die (or SMED). Waiting Time not being used effectively is a waste - we are incurring the cost of wages and all the fixed costs of rent, rates, lighting and heating so we should use every minute of every day productively. Ohno looked at the reasons for machines or operators being under-utilised and set about addressing them all. Thus we have learnt about preventive maintenance and the creation of flow through our factories with the emphasis on takt time, the rate at which a component or product moves to the next stage.

Transporting Items being moved incur a cost, if it is only the energy needed to initiate the movement - such as the electricity absorbed by a fork lift truck. Of course, movement brings another cost, which is less visible but more significant. Managing a factory with operations spread apart is much more difficult than when the subsequent stages are adjacent to one another. This can be seen as the primary driver behind cellular manufacturing (though some would point out that

Group Technology is very similar and came from Sweden, rather than from the Orient). Movement On a related note, people spending time moving around the plant is equally wasteful. The time a machine operator or fitter wastes walking to the toolroom or the stores for a fixture or a component could be far better utilised if our plant layout and housekeeping were geared around having everything that is required close to hand. Inappropriate Processing The most obvious example of inappropriate processing from my own experience relates to surface finishes that required components to be moved to grinders for completion, when in fact such finishes served no purpose. A basic principle of the TPS is doing only what is appropriate. Inventory The element that Western industry immediately focused upon when confronted with JIT was the cost reduction available from holding less inventory. The fact that the initial fact-finding trips to Japan took place when interest rates were at breathtakingly high levels (my own mortgage was at 15%) perhaps contributed to our failing to see the other costs that Ohno had considered in his own interpretation. We now know that stock hides problems and that problems are pearls in that finding a problem is a good thing - now we can solve it, which we couldn't until it came to light

Improving quality through waste elimination
Total Quality-you've heard the term. You've seen the acronym. But, what does it mean within the framework of lean manufacturing systems? Most quality efforts focus on two things: quality controlbased on standards and inspection, and quality preventionbased on techniques such as error proofing. Most people do

not realize the effect that the overall manufacturing system has on quality. Waste elimination in the manufacturing environment, usually thought of in terms of cost reduction, can have a dramatic positive impact on improving quality. Systematic waste elimination is a cornerstone of lean systems thinking. Unfortunately, waste elimination is typically viewed as an opportunity to improve efficiency versus the equally important measure of effectiveness. A relentless focus on eliminating waste will have a profound effect on the quality of the service or product you provide. Just examine the seven types of waste and their impact on quality: * Inventory - Excess inventory, either in finished goods or work-in-process, delays the detection of defects and, in fact, fosters the storage of undetected defects. Often the quality problem is not found until the product reaches the customer. Then you have to go back through your inventory to detect where the defect originated, weeks or even months after the defect first occurred. * Over-processing - Following tighter specifications, or simply providing more than a customer wants in order to satisfy form, fit, and function requirements, ultimately adds more complexity and more variation to a process, both of which lead to more chances for error. * Over-production - Providing a product or service before or in a greater quantity than the customer requires prevents early detection of a defect, and subsequently embeds the defect in every product until it's detected. * Motion - There is a simple rule of thumb that applies here. "You can't make as many mistakes in 10 handoffs as you can in 100 handoffs." During every handoff, in every move, there is another chance for a mistake to occur. * Transportation - See Motion. * Waiting - The longer it takes to detect a defect, the more likely it is that it will be repeated. Problem identification needs to be as close to the point of activity as possible. Not finding out about a defect until a customer files a warranty claim is a long time to wait before you know there's a problem. * Defects - Even quality has its own waste category. And just what is the cost of carrying out systematic waste elimination in order to improve quality? Nothing. It's free when properly planned and implemented. Additionally, the cost of poor quality is frequently underestimated. Often the cost is hidden in overhead or absorbed in indirect costs, and the true cost of its impact becomes impossible to recognize. Now don't get me wrong, an investment is necessary. It will be an investment of dollars and human resources. The difference is: Cost is an expenditure of resources whose

benefits decrease over time. With Investment, the situation is easily reversed. So investment is necessary to develop a common lens and language for waste, so the entire organization-and I mean everyone-can identify opportunities to eliminate waste every day. Seldom does the initial investment have any negative short-term financial impact, and in the long term there is a substantial increase in benefits that continually multiplies over time. My words of advice are these: Don't start a quality program. Start a quality culture. Develop a shared set of mental models that focus on waste elimination to improve quality. Figuring out what you want to do to improve quality is easy. It's harder to figure out how to do it. But the rewards are well worth the effort: improved quality, lower cost, competitive advantages, exceptional ROI, and much more. To improve quality, develop a shared set of mental models that focus on waste elimination.

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