How to Reduce Waste in Your Daily Operations

Manufacturing ExcellenceLean Manufacturing November 22, 2018
A common focus of continuous improvement efforts is the elimination of waste. In this article, we share four examples of how factories can reduce it.
Reducing Waste List

There are many different types of waste in your daily operations, from waiting and overproduction, to defects. Regardless of the type, your workers on the frontline are key to driving improvements. In this article, I share four different examples of how Poka customers are using the platform to reduce waste.

Accessibility and Standard Training for Workers

It is common to see variability in production performance between shifts and plants even for the same product on the same equipment. This is caused by inconsistent knowledge and experience between shifts, position or departments.

Capturing work instructions in video format ensures that your approved best practices do not vary by trainer or over time. Maintaining this valuable training material in Poka guarantees that all of your employees have access to the information they need, when they need it.

By focusing your training content efforts in known problem areas where waste is an issue, like during format changeover or on cleaning procedures, you will have better results. One Poka customer, a dairy factory near Montreal, took this approach and was able to reduce their overall fruit waste by 9%.

Engage Your Workforce

As with any continuous improvement practice, workers are key players in identifying problems and recommending solutions. Unfortunately in most factories, workers do not have access to real-time information related to production.

The dashboard capability in Poka makes it possible to display data from external systems such as an MES. Operators can check the dashboard at regular intervals, in the flow of work, to know when they are falling outside of the target range.

Worker visibility into waste KPIs is important for 2 reasons. First, you can’t solve a problem you don’t know you have. And second, when operators can take ownership of the KPIs on their machines, they feel empowered to solve problems.


Once a problem is identified, in this case we recognize that production is yielding a higher rate of waste, we want to get back on track as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, once again due to the variability in experience and knowledge, the ability to troubleshoot a problem effectively is going to vary from one worker to another.

Similar to standardized work instructions or formal training content, Poka gives workers access to a knowledge base of troubleshooting solutions. When a problem occurs, or production is not meeting the standard, a worker can scan a QR code placed on the machine and access all the tried and true solutions to help solve the problem faster.

A 150-employee food plant near Moscow saw product waste reduced by 22% when they created and made available a library of more than 60 troubleshooting videos. Now, workers check waste KPIs on an hourly basis, and when performance deviations occur, they scan a special QR code related to the problem they are experiencing. Immediate access to relevant solutions has led to a quicker resolution of problems.

Focusing on the Root Cause

Many times, you may not know what’s causing waste so it’s impossible to know how to stop it. CI coordinators and performance engineers often have to rely on fragmented data and anecdotal feedback to identify and analyze the root cause of a waste problem.

By creating a centralized, digital logbook, employees and supervisors can share important production events and document problems related to a specific machine or task. Poka’s Factory Feed makes it easy for users to include video and photos in their posts which helps CI teams understand the challenge operators are facing and find the root cause.

Another Poka customer, a leader in electrical installation products, asked workers to consistently publish any type of production problem they encountered during a waste focus period. The continuous improvement team analyzed the posts and were able to determine that improper equipment adjustments were causing excess plastic to be left in the injection molds. With this knowledge, they created a new work instruction video and ensured all operators were trained on the new standard way of working.

Final Thoughts

Reducing waste is a priority for many Poka customers. In fact, projecting cost savings related to waste creates a compelling business case for investing in and prioritizing a Poka project in your factory. In order to improve that KPI however, you have to attack the problem from multiple angles, all of which depend on engaging your frontline workers. With Poka, building waste reduction strategies into your daily operations is finally possible.

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