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Seeing means eliminating – how to identify and eliminate waste

Wednesday April 25, 2018 at 1:47pm

When we think about waste in environmental and industrial terms, it’s often something that’s physical.

Physical waste can exist in processes, but this is only a very small part of it.

The key identifying wasteful activity, which we define as “activity that adds no value to the customer”, is to start looking at waste from a different perspective, that of the process customer.

The worst and most insidious waste is that which we cannot see.

So, when you critically look at your business processes, you need to look at what the customer requires and eliminate every step that does not contribute towards what the customer needs. Some common examples to consider:

How often do you need to move things around between workstations during the process?

Are your levels of inventory really necessary? What are they costing you in terms of storage, identification, location and transportation? Could you reduce your stocks and still provide excellent customer service?

How difficult is it for your staff to get the next necessary item, piece of information or equipment to do the value adding w

Look at your process and ask yourself, “are we creating delays for our customers because we have an in‐built delay between value adding process stages?”

Over Processing
We often create work for ourselves, so it is always worth asking, “is this activity absolutely necessary or is there a better way to get the job done?”

Over Production
You could be doing more than your customers require, making too much, making things ‘just‐in‐case’, working ahead of schedule and writing reports that no one reads.   Defects What’s the failure rate in the process? What are the root causes of failure? What could you do to make the most positive impact?

Do you have the right people on the job or do you, for example, continually use a higher skilled person on low skilled work?

Adopting a “process customer need perspective” will help you to identify waste you might not otherwise see. Identifying and eliminating waste through the use of a Rapid Improvement Event can bring additional benefits by greatly compressing the lead‐time in adopting improved processes and dramatically improving the quality of the solution. The benefits of taking this approach can be considerable, even in businesses that on the face of it look very efficient.

Some benefit examples from client projects we have worked on are listed below and show the scale of benefit that can be achieved.

1. Turnaround time for laboratory analysis reduced by over 20%

2. Productivity improved by 15% in documentation area

3. Service Level Agreement improvement from 48 hrs to 24 hrs

4. Reduction of in process queries by 66%


About Six Sigma Group - Six Sigma Group is a major provider of Six Sigma training and Business Process Improvement consultancy services, that have the capacity to deliver significant, measurable savings for our clients.

Six Sigma Group is part of Bourton Group LLP. Bourton Group LLP provide performance improvement and change management consultancy services across a range of sectors and industries.




Tel: + 44 (0) 1926 632888

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Telephone 01926 632888

SixSigma Group is part of Bourton Group LLP