Beat the Eight Wastes for competitive edge!

A central Lean principle is removal of waste within an organization’s processes. Companies that focus on this have a strong competitive edge.

For perspective – according to management consultants McKinsey & Company, EBITDA margins in the packaging sector are about 10 percent. Imagine a year’s savings of €100,000 because of a Lean cost reduction program: this is equivalent to improving turnover by more than €1 million – and even that assumes the extra revenue is generated 100% waste-free!

Waste is about more than the contents of the scrap bin by your press. With today’s combination presses capable of greater sophistication and speed, the cost of lost production time is more important than ever.

Overall, we understand waste to be the use of any excessive time, materials, tools, techniques, people and space in order to offer added value to the customer.

An important starting point in the efforts to reduce waste is to determine which processes add value, and which do not.

The Eight Wastes is a powerful way to evaluate how efficient your processes are.

When monitored, they reveal the scope for improvement. Here is a description of each waste type, along with examples that relate to handling and processing ink in a converting business:

Waste #1: Overproduction

Producing more ink or labels than the customer will pay for. For instance, mixing or ordering more colours than are needed for the print run.

Waste #2: Transport

This concerns the cost of shipments. It is cheaper to buy base inks in large containers rather than expensive multiple small-volume orders. Movement of products form an expense that adds no value. If you as a printer move to mixing the inks from large barrels instead of ordering pre-mixed colours in small packages, you can enjoy substantial reductions in transport costs.

Waste #3: Rework / rejects:

The cost of not meeting quality expectations in terms of wasted materials, manpower and production time. Aim for zero-defects: colours that are ‘first time right’ avoid much waste of substrates, ink, press downtime and operator hours.

Waste #4: Inventory

Stocks are purchased that the customer will not pay for. Stockholding costs are likely to run out of control without effective management – overstuffed stocks, cluttered with returned inks that are out of date; colours running out of stock.

Waste #5: Motion

Excessive motion adds no value. Doing the mixing yourself, near the printing press, means reduced handling and less ink movement. And if you maintain a tidy, ordered ‘ink room’ you are not constantly searching for clean buckets, base inks and return-inks that are awaiting processing.

Waste #6: Overprocessing

Some processes have no place in the workflow. They exist only to resolve errors that occurred in previous processes. For example, if you mix the ink from larger containers (200-litre barrels instead of 20-litre buckets), you avoid having to drain contaminated buckets. And processing return-inks avoids having to hold them in stock or drain them. Another example of overprocessing can be excessive administrative costs of purchasing and reliance on unnecessary services such as ink mixing by the supplier.

Waste #7: Waiting

Products, people and information that stand waiting deliver no value. If you prepare your colour ‘in-house,’ your production planning is less dependent on your ink supplier’s schedules and reliability. Also, by automating the dispensing and mixing, you reduce waiting time even further.

Waste #8: Human Talent

Excessive manual intervention in the workflow means that employees’ knowledge and training will not be used to full extent. This can lead to low morale. Examples of not using human talent to full potential include:

  • by mixing inks manually instead of automatically
  • frequently yet unnecessarily checking items in
  • removing or disposing with unusable ink stocks
  • repeatedly entering the same order, but then in a different information system

In the next blog we will explore how to organize the working environment in order to eliminate waste: the “5S Program”.

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