Coming Down on DOWNTIME – Getting to the Bottom of Waste

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by | Apr 11, 2022

Project Manager Nathan Bonds is, we have to say, obsessed with downtime.

He uses his own pretty wisely. He doesn’t binge TV. He only wants to know what he needs to know right now to get on with his day. (Building chicken coops, painting houses …)

Nathan’s also on a mission to help RI manufacturers eliminate DOWNTIME, aka the “8 Wastes.”

In the latest “Lean Tip of the Week” video Nathan outlines a scenario that’s pretty common – the O in DOWNTIME, Overproduction.

The key, he says, is to take the advice of G.I. Joe – “knowing, is half the battle.” Knowing the root cause of Waste makes it possible to battle it.

“You have to truly know where the job starts with information, people, and material,” says Nathan. He likes to time processes to get them to match as much as possible. Make sure each individual understands their role in the flow — “If a space is marked for 3 carts ONLY and you have made 4 carts of product, now the next operation can’t keep up. When the flow is off in this way, much-needed people get stuck in an overproduction Waste tornado.”

Find and Fight the Cause of DOWNTIME Waste with Kata

Nathan says that, in his experience, the Improvement Kata can help manufacturers get to the bottom of Waste and then fight it.

The Improvement Kata is a fundamental methodology in Lean Manufacturing. It’s one of the training solutions that Polaris MEP offers Rhode Island’s smaller manufacturers to help them reduce Waste and to grow.

Kata (also known as Toyota Kata training) makes Continuous Improvement not just possible but a daily habit through scientific problem-solving and a simple, repeating four-step routine.

“The problem-solving mindset of the Improvement Kata is what gets a team to identify the root cause,” says Nathan. “You turn your team members into scientists, looking at what’s causing that Waste or bottleneck. And then they use the same skills to solve the problem.”

Nathan’s seen the Improvement Kata help teams discover what’s causing the 8 DOWNTIME Wastes at their facility. He says one manufacturer discovered the root cause of not just Waste but team friction: a worker who simply worked at a much faster pace than the rest of the line.

The employee was rightly proud of the volume of work she produced. But, Overproduction at her station caused pile-ups and stress for others in the workflow. By applying Improvement Kata routines the team together created a solution to balance the line and drive gains.

Are you as obsessed with DOWNTIME as Nathan is? Or just obsessed with G.I. Joe? Share your experiences with getting to the bottom of Waste by emailing us at [email protected]

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