Underutilizing Human Potential

Underutilizing Human Potential

The 8th Waste on a Machine Shop Floor

Everyone knows about the 7 wastes on a machine shop floor: transportation, waiting, overproduction, defects, inventory, movement, and extra processing. However, what many industry professionals don’t know is that there is a dreaded 8th waste: underutilization of human potential. This commonly overlooked 8th waste is known to cause manufacturing companies the biggest losses despite being the most overlooked, and prevents them from increased efficiency, capacity, and quality in a globally competitive market.  

For over 70 years, leading manufacturers have relied on the principles of Lean Manufacturing to maintain a competitive edge in a volatile field. Lean Manufacturing is a process which focuses on minimizing waste within manufacturing systems while maximizing existing resources to boost productivity. The seven wastes are:

1. Transportation – The non-value-added movement of parts, material, and information. This waste is centered around the mundane side of manufacturing, or the “necessary evil” of repeated movements to create a finished product.

2. Waiting – Idle time is a major setback when it comes to productivity, whether that relates to people, parts, systems, or facilities. A variety of factors could cause pauses in the process, resulting in an excessively long work cycle.

3. Overproduction – With fluctuating demands, rapid overproduction of parts that don’t align with customer needs cause excessive waste.

4. Defects – Customer satisfaction guarantees are no longer a luxury – they’re a necessity. Flawed parts are unacceptable and a major source of waste for non-automated businesses.

5. Inventory – Excessive inventory created by the accumulation of leftover raw materials or finished goods are an unnecessary burden. These materials do nothing to aid in value creation.

6. Movement – Needless movement of workers, materials, or equipment easily disturb processes. Sometimes a single misstep can decrease productivity.

7. Extra Processing – Performing additional work may be unnecessary in satisfying a customer’s needs and is a waste of both time and resources.

The 8th waste is notably the most challenging to manufacturers. This type of waste is most commonly overlooked but results in the biggest losses.

8. Underutilizing Human Potential – Employees in manufacturing have the potential to provide amazing contributions to employers but are held back (by no fault of their own).  Issues such as waiting for inspections, materials, and the loading and unloading of parts cause low prolonged machine uptimes while shackling employees to their posts and forcing them to babysit machinery.

Although many have attempted different strategies to reduce these wastes, the top competitors in manufacturing have employed cutting edge technology known as CNC automation. By adding robotic machine tending solutions, companies are saving time, money, and resources like never before. CNC automation is estimated to boost productivity by 40%. Employees also benefit through this process, as they can move on to more meaningful, hands-on tasks required while letting machines do the busy work. Machine shops are left with a competitive advantage with increased output and capacity, while also retaining and attracting new talent with installed robotic automation. The key, top manufacturers believe, is tackling all eight wastes with CNC automation.

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