Muda (無駄)

I think about waste all the time. At Horst Engineering, we focus on continuous improvement. Lean enterprise is one of our two strategic pillars for operational success. The other is technology. We feel that if we focus and execute both aspects of the strategy, then we will achieve success. Technology is something you can obtain. It requires both knowledge and capital, however, lean enterprise (a whole company derivative of lean manufacturing) is a process. This process is more difficult to implement, but no less effective. Lean enterprise is based on the Toyota Production System (TPS, トヨタ生産方式). One of the TPS founders is Taiichi Ohno (大野 耐). He developed the Seven Wastes. Muda is waste. 

1. Overproduction

2. Transportation

3. Motion

4. Waiting

5. Processing

6. Inventory

7. Defects

I see waste like it glows in the dark. Just this morning, I experienced three separate quality issues, two with products and one with a process, at our factory. We have a Quality Clinic where we focus on problem solving and root cause analysis. It is a good tool, much like kaizen (改善), or “change for the better”, but  continuous improvement should be fluid and continuous. Resource: www.lean.org.

This afternoon, I had to phone Garmin about my Edge 305 GPS unit. I’ve been having reliability issues with it. Both the teammate who referred me to the Garmin retailer and a teammage that I referred have had similar problems. Garmin customer service was pleasant and helpful, however, there is no excuse for the defects that we have experienced. I share real world “consumer” examples with Horst associates all of the time as a way to illustrate that poor quality is just not acceptable. One of our lean advisors, Bob Emiliani of The Center for Lean Business Management and Central Connecticut State University, has claimed an 8th waste.

8. Communication/Behavioral

This relates to my point about how lean is a cultural journey and that eliminating waste in any organization requires a shift in attitudes, or behaviors.

I “dined” at Moe’s tonight. I’ve been a frequent visitor, and usually with my son. I feed him the baby food and sample the American/Mexican fare. I see waste everywhere at Moe’s. I’m adding a 9th waste:

9. Environmental

What a shame. Even when you dine in at Moe’s, you have to consume a tremendous amount of disposable product. I don’t, because I conciously avoid it. However, when I look around, I see paper waste, plastic waste, food waste, glass waste, and just plain excess. The woman in front of me ordered a salad. She was asked what dressing she would like. After the staffer told her what was available and she still couldn’t decide, he said “I’ll give you one of each.” One of each?! I wanted to jump across the glass divider and ask him why. That was three individually packaged dressings in plastic Solo containers. Solo exemplifies waste. Many of their products can be recycled, but aren’t. She wasn’t going to eat all of that salad dressing. She was going to throw two out. That is the problem. People just don’t care. Who is more to blame? Moe’s for not presenting the customers with more options? Why don’t they use dishes and silverware? Why so much plastic? Is the customer to blame for not bringing their own silverware? I bring my own titanium spork and I avoid the plastic. I serve my salsa into a paper wrapper and bring my own water bottle. I’m much lighter on the environment than the average Moe’s customer. Waste is everywhere and I’m not going to stop pointing it out.

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