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The 7 main areas of waste

Waste is a thief…


Most of us think we understand waste, and we instinctively know that waste is a bad thing… we don’t like to throw things away, and most of us implement some form of recycling in our lives, be it at home or work, everything from glass collection points at supermarkets, to baled cardboard and paper recycling systems in factories.

But there are many types of waste we miss. Wasted time, wasted talent, wasted money, wasted effort, the list is almost endless, and we recognise in the terms the negative implications of them. But do we actually apply these thoughts to our business?

One of the most wasteful things most businesses do is over produce. And it’s a scary one because it hides it’s wastefulness inside a glowing positive shell.

Busy machines churning out masses of product look great, make you feel good, and imply that you are doing well, ramming your finished goods storage area with nice shiny stuff for the customer to buy, giving you the impression that you are doing well, that money is being made.

Imagine feeding a small child. You give him or her a plate of food, and they don’t finish it. You don’t want to throw the food away, as that would be the obvious waste, so you put it in the fridge to be offered to the child again at a later date. Thereby solving the problem of waste.. Yes?


There are many reasons why the child might not have eaten all the food, but today we are going to look at just one reason. That you cooked too much food (are you like me with measuring pasta?) The fridge is your storage area, your warehouse or shelving unit, it really doesn’t matter what it is you use. It costs you money. It cost you money to buy, it cost you money to run it, to light it, to staff it, to track what produce is in it, to heat it, or chill it, which ever is required to make it suitable to store your finished item. If you hadn’t over produced, you wouldn’t need it, and all that money, would be sitting in your pocket right now.

And that’s just one of the wastes of over production.

What if at dinner time tomorrow, because you are busy, you forget that you already have the child’s food made, waiting for you in the fridge? Or maybe you look in the fridge but you can’t find it because its behind the salad bowl…

So you make another meal. you use up your precious time, and resources, doing work you had already done. It may not seem obvious at the time, but again, this is waste.

And it gets worse… you may remember that lonely plate of food, and go back to get it, and realise for some reason it has gone off, got damaged or soiled, and is now not fit to eat.. So you still can’t use it, and must redo it all again.

Or you drop the plate on the way to the fridge, and ruin the food again…

If this is sounding silly and far fetched now, just put it back into the terms of your business. every time you store anything.. You increase the chance of it being lost, damaged, or deteriorating to the point it cant be used or sold.

The key, is to make what your customer needs, when your customer needs it, and supply it to them. The world isn’t perfect; and you need some sort of buffer to counter the fluctuations of demand, but the tighter your controls and the smaller you can successfully make that buffer; the less wasteful you are being; and the more money will sit snugly in your pocket.