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Hatred for waste


Yogesh Vaghani 2016-12-09


The American poet and Nobel laureate T S Eliot wrote a long epic poem, ' The wasteland.' It's considered to be a masterpiece in world literature. Here I'm quoting a passage from this poem that focuses on waste: ' The nature has been more than benign and kind/It's man who has been unkind/Indiscriminate waste has turned the land into a wasteland and when you ask me, I say that it's the perception of waste that's needed for the mankind to imbibe for its survival....................It's Wise Act Saves Time & Energy............'

What a brilliant understanding of the word WASTE by the Nobel laureate: Wise Act Saves Time & Energy!

We seem to have forgotten the very mantra of 'use sparingly' and in every aspect of our life, there's a criminal waste of resources, time, energy, intentions, creativity among others.

'Even to waste one minute adds to collective human miseries,' Nehru had to hear this gurumantra from Sir Harold Laski when he reached late in the class in Cambridge and he later quoted this in one of his letters from Naini gaol to Indira Gandhi.

The best of human beings have been found to have an atavistic aversion to waste. Gandhi ji's spartan lifestyle and his positive austerity can be cited as the quintessential example of how waste must be avoided in life. Mind you, Sabarmati river flowed by his place and there was no dearth of water. But the visionary and a veritable saint that he was, Gandhi ji never misused water and one tumbler (lota) was enough for his ablutions and other essential works. It wasn't miserly on his part. It was his stress on the retention, preservation and conservation of water because jal hai toh kal hai. By the way, this slogan was given by Gandhi ji in 1929!! Today, it's used like an election dictum!

The best of human beings have been found to have an atavistic aversion to waste. Gandhi ji's spartan lifestyle and his positive austerity can be cited as the quintessential example of how waste must be avoided in life. Mind you, Sabarmati river flowed by his place and there was no dearth of water. But the visionary and a veritable saint that he was, Gandhi ji never misused water and one tumbler (lota) was enough for his ablutions and other essential works. It wasn't miserly on his part. It was his stress on the retention, preservation and conservation of water because jal hai toh kal hai. By the way, this slogan was given by Gandhi ji in 1929!! Today, it's used like an election dictum!

Now when we look at the widespread waste, we feel that we've not yet got the true meaning of preservation and conservation which can make the planet earth a better and more organized place to live in.

Like cleanliness, the hatred for waste also begins from home, with an individual's personal endeavours. Gandhi ji wasn't told to preserve and save water. He did that on his own. So for developing an attitude that hates waste one need to be:

  • Aware
  • Self-answerable
  • Judicious
  • Respecter of resources
  • Implementer

When the social attitude towards waste shapes up, it spills into organizational, corporate and industrial domains and slowly the very idea gets firmly entrenched in the public consciousness.

This can be understood with the help of Lean management and Kaizen process in the industrial sphere that have been very successful to stem the rot and curb the inordinate waste.

How Lean can help here?
Before coming to Lean's role in stemming the waste, it's imperative to know, what's Lean? In one word, it's a CONTROLLER of the waste. This Japanese corporate system of efficiency, using minimum aspectual efforts and controlling waste (MUDA) to create maximum beneficial productivity is Lean and when it's coupled with Kaizen, continuous progress and betterment, the results are bound to be stupendous. In a lighter vein, Japanese word for waste (MUDA) has an interesting similarity with MURDA (dead-body) in Hindi because both mean USELESS!!

Factory owners spend a lot of time trying to reduce costs. Unfortunately, they tend to focus only on three levers to keep their costs under control:

  • Negotiating down material prices
  • Limiting salary raise
  • Pushing the employees to work hard, for long hours

What they don’t realize is, these are not the major cost drivers!Here is what can really bring costs down by 15-25% after one year of re-organization:

  • Simplifying the flow of materials through the different processes
  • Improving the way each process step is conducted

The key is to eliminate as much waste as possible.The cost structure (and the very thin profit) of a typical manufacturer:

 

What is “Waste that can be eliminated easily”?

Taiichi Ohno, the father of the Toyota Production System, listed 7 types of waste that can be found in every factory.Eliminating waste completely is virtually impossible. But a good part of it can be eliminated easily. The 7 categories of waste are given below. All of them can be reduced by 50-90% within 1 year.

  • Transportation:moving materials or products from one place to another, simply because the different steps of a production are not side by side.
  • Inventory:the company’s cash is tied up in inventory that sits still most of the time and that necessitates lots of warehousing space.
  • Unnecessarymotion:process steps that don’t add value to the product, such as walking to pick a bin of products.
  • Waiting:operators who can’t work because they are waiting for materials or because their machine has broken down; products waiting for weeks in a queue.
  • Over-processing:spending some time/energy that is not necessary during a process. (Maybe no work instructions exist, maybe they are not adequate, or maybe they are not respected).
  • Over-production:producing more than current orders call for, “just in case”. It might stay in inventory for a long time and lose value.
  • Defects:processing some material in a way that is not satisfactory.

But one more WASTE can be added to the aforementioned list, making it EIGHT: Waste of human potential. This may not be realised immediately but over a period of time, this category of waste worms into the very consciousness and becomes obvious.

The waste of human potential is that where it could have been used, it wasn't used wisely. In other words, the 'penny wise pound foolish' approach has highlighted the waste of human potential and made us suffer eventually.

Poet Yashpal Kripasindhu says, 'Jaan gayee, taaqat gayee, aadmi ki aql gayee/Bina bujhave aadmi ko deemak chaat gayee' (Because of lack of use and implementation, the human potential has gone in vain).

By implementing the WASTE WISDOM of Lean management in industrial and organizational spheres, a lot can be achieved and that will sum up:

  • GET THE VERY BEST/
  • ELIMINATE THE WASTE/
  • CONTINUE THE QUEST/
  • AND BE AHEAD OF THE REST.

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