How to Reduce Waste in an Industrial Setting

Waste is a bad thing for any industrial company, representing lost money, lost opportunities, and potentially, a negative environmental impact. It's your responsibility to reduce waste in industrial settings as much as possible, but what types of programs and strategies are best for reducing waste?

The Goals of Waste Reduction

Obviously, the goal of waste reduction is to reduce the amount of waste produced in your industrial setting. But there are multiple subgoals you'll need to keep in mind, and ideally, you'll find a solution that achieves all of them. Reducing waste is good since it prevents you from wasting money on materials that aren't effectively used. But it's also important to find methods of dealing with waste that preserve your operational efficiency, maximize profitability, benefit the environment, and potentially even generate revenue on the side.
Industrial Waste
Industrial recycling, for example, is a way to reduce total waste by finding new applications for whatever minimal waste you produce. Depending on the industrial recycling program you employ, this might be a way to produce a new product, generate extra income, or simply preserve finite materials.

Identify Sources and Types of Industrial Waste

Before you start implementing specific strategies, you need to understand what types of waste problems you’re dealing with. There are many common types and sources of waste in industrial settings.

   * Overproduction. One of the biggest sources of waste (and one of the easiest to address) is overproduction. If you produce too many products, at least some of those products are going to be wasted.

   * Waiting. If any of your employees or machines are idle, they're going to waste time or resources. Bottlenecks in your production processes can also cause unnecessary waiting.

   * Transport. Nearly all industrial production processes involve some kind of transportation, but every act of transportation carries a risk of waste. You need to optimize movement to streamline efficiency.

   * Processing. Processing waste comes as a result of performing unnecessary steps. It can be hard to identify, especially if you've been running the same processes for a long time. But it's important to find and eliminate.

   * Inventory. You can also create waste by overstocking supplies in your inventory. This is usually easy to clear up with better inventory management processes
  * Errors and mistakes. Producing defective products, making a mistake with an order, or employing processes that produce scraps can all increase waste as well.

Set Objective Goals (and Start Measuring Your Results)

Once you've correctly identified some of the major sources of waste in your industrial setting, it will be time to set some objective goals. Hopefully, you're already measuring waste produced in your business, so you can set some realistic, yet challenging goals to aspire to. Goals are an excellent motivating force, and more importantly, they give you a concrete definition of success to work with.

Reduce Overstocking and Overproduction

Try to minimize overstocking and overproduction as much as you can. Focus on only producing what you need, relying on a pull-based system. Anything you do to make your workflows more efficient is going to help you reduce waste.

Carefully Manage Inventory

Better inventory management can also help you reduce waste, and in multiple ways. Utilizing the latest technology, you can automate most of your inventory control and minimize waste due to expiration or improper management.

Optimize Processing and Floor Efficiency

While you’re at it, try to optimize your processing and overall floor efficiency. More productive, more efficient workflows naturally reduce waste.

Minimize Packaging

Also, consider minimizing packaging. Too often, industrial businesses overlook this dynamic and end up wasting literal tons of cardboard and plastic (as well as other materials) when it's not really necessary. Strive for minimalism in this area.

Reuse Materials When Possible

Is there a way for you to reuse scraps or break down defective products so you can incorporate those materials into new production processes? If so, you could eliminate waste and increase total productivity at the same time.

Recycle Everything You Can

Finally, implement a thorough industrial recycling program to sell or make effective use of any materials that are wasted. Reducing waste is a noble goal, but you'll never reduce it to zero, so you'll need a strategy in place to appropriately deal with it. Reducing waste in an industrial setting isn't always easy, and it isn't always clear what your biggest sources of waste are. However, if you're willing to set objective goals, tinker with your workflows, and invest in a better recycling program, you should be able to greatly reduce waste.

In turn, this should save you lots of money, increase your efficiency, and improve your overall sustainability – all of which will make your business more formidable in the competitive landscape.