Overproduction is a Waster

Eliminating waste is at the heart of 5S and lean strategies, and while some types of waste are easy to identify, others aren’t so obvious. Overproduction is one of the most common types of waste, and also one which most companies spend the least amount of time and energy on to eliminate. This happens, perhaps, because companies are in the business of production, and if they aren’t making something, management feels like time is being wasted.

While it is certainly true that having employees waiting around and not working is a waste, it should be balanced against simply having them producing products which aren’t needed. When companies product products too early, or produce items which aren’t needed, it is very wasteful. In fact, over production can actually be the cause of a variety of other types of waste, which can quickly add up to significant loss. In many cases, it is better to have employees doing nothing than to have them overproducing their products.

How to Eliminate Overproduction

While it may be more efficient to actually pay people to wait around for new orders, that is obviously not the ideal solution. Companies that have a problem with overproduction need to look at all options available to both eliminate the overproduction, and avoid wasting time. This can be difficult, but with proper planning it is almost always possible. The following are a few proven strategies companies can consider:

  • Adjust Schedules – In most facilities it is possible to anticipate production needs ahead of time. Adjusting the work schedules of employees is a great way to spread the required work out in a more efficient way. Consider using part-time or temporary employees to meet the high-demand periods, and cutting back on the hours of others during low demand periods.
  • Additional Demand – The ideal solution is to increase the demand on the existing products being produced. The more of product customers want, the more production can take place without causing waste. This can be done through lowering price, more effective marketing or other techniques specific to the products being created.
  • Expand Offerings – In many cases it will be possible to begin offering additional products or services to meet demand of customers, or even expand the customer base. Many facilities which are focused on producing a small number of products have all the equipment in place to produce other items as well. Even if the profit margin is lower, it is still better than overproduction or paying people to wait around. 

Smarter Workplace

5S-guide-guide-and-posterEliminating overproduction should be a priority of any facility, but it should be done in an intentional way. It is possible for many companies to turn overproduction from waste into something valuable. It may take some outside the box thinking, but it is certainly possible. Looking back through history, many great innovations and even inventions have taken place because of people or companies attempting to do things in a smarter way rather than simply continuing with the way things have always been done. Eliminating overproduction should allow for a much smarter workplace.

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Antonio Ferraro

On behalf of Creative Safety Supply based in Portland, OR, I strive to provide helpful information to create safer and more efficient industrial work environments. My knowledge base focuses primarily on practices such as 5S, Six Sigma, Kaizen, and the Lean mindset. I believe in being proactive and that for positive change to happen, we must be willing to be transparent and actively seek out areas in need of improvement. An organized, safe, and well-planned work space leads to increased productivity, quality products and happier workplace. Connect with Antonio on Google+