Eliminate The Waste of Waiting

Posted by on May 5, 2011 in Lean | 0 comments

Waiting or delay is the waste incurred if people, systems, materials, or information is waiting for something to be completed before being utilized in the process.
In a manufacturing environment, it occurs when a process is out of parts or a piece of equipment breaks down and people are waiting to get started again.  In the office, it occurs when a person is waiting for information or another person before they can complete their task.  
From a customer perspective, there is a delay in getting the goods and services they want.  For example in healthcare, patients wait for diagnosis, treatment, beds, testing, and discharge.  Physicians wait for patient lab results.
Other examples include:
  • Customers waiting in line at a store checkout
  • Files and documents waiting for signatures or approval
  • Customers waiting in a phone queue
  • IT system failure
  • Time taken to respond to customer requests, i.e., loans, medical visits, insurance needs, etc.

How many times have you gone to a scheduled meeting to find some of the participants late and the meeting delayed until everyone got there?
Waiting usually results from one or more of the following problems:
  • Unbalanced workload
  • Inefficiencies in automation
  • Poor planning and scheduling
  • Improper communication

Here are some suggestions for eliminating the waste of waiting:
  • Balance the workload by redistributing tasks in the process
  • Establish a pull system
  • Eliminate unnecessary approval processes
  • Build other tasks into the daily work schedule so that employees are occupied during waiting periods
  • Prevent delays by providing for backups, i.e., opening up other checkout lines at grocery and retail stores

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